the Stoics were right

(Austin, TX) Last night, in Worcester, Mass., I heard Michael Dukakis speak at Clark University. He was very funny and had a whole ordinary-old-guy-who-once-lost-a-presidential-election schtick going. “Folks, I owe you an apology. If I had beaten Old Man Bush, you’da never heard of the kid. … Folks, you can ask me any questions you want, but not about the campaign we just had. If I knew anything about presidential politics, I’d be standing here in a different capacity.” “Folks, next time I run for president, Jim and Bob here are going to be my national co-chairs.”

I happened to walk out with the Governor, Kitty Dukakis, and a family friend of theirs, although I didn’t bug them by saying anything. The former Democratic presidential nominee went off to find the family car and save his elderly companions from walking on the rain-slicked paths.

Meanwhile, we read that the Obamas’ ordinary lives are now over–no more dinners out for Barack and Michelle, unless they want to have 300 Secret Service agents along. No more hair cuts at barber shops. It makes me think of the fickleness of fame, that great wheel that lifts some up and lowers others. Although the Obama Campaign was far more impressive than the Dukakis Campaign of ’88, I’m convinced that Obama won and Dukakis lost because of timing and sync with the national Zeitgeist. In the affairs of individuals, chance is almost everything. “The wise man pays just enough attention to fame to avoid being despised”–Epicurus.

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