Sunday, November 10, 2013

A story about responsibilities

When I started writing "Dog on a Rope," I started with the question about the responsibilities of a male adult who had been encouraged all his life to pursue his dreams. But what happens when those dreams  sour? Especially what happens when a family depends upon him, and his actions killed any hope of reviving that dream where he lives?

At the same time, I was intrigued by a comment made on the night Vice President George H.W. Bush gained the Republican nomination for presidency to succeed Ronald Reagan. We tend not to have a strong national memory when it comes to popular politicians, so  history is in order. The Reagan White House was mired in the Iran-Contra affair of selling weapons to Iran despite a military arms embargo, and turning the money over to Nicaraguan rebels, which Congress had previously prohibited. When the matter came to light, the White House talking points focused on how Vice President Bush was out of the loop in the second-term White House and was not involved in any way, that he was a step or two removed from being a nonentity slightly less important than the aide who kept the jelly bean dish full in the Oval Office.

After Bush secured the nomination, speculation turned to who the vice presidential nominee would be, with the network news commentator noting that a Bush candidacy could suffer if the vice presidential nominee was considered to be a brighter star than the nominee; the campaign would have to find someone perceived as less spectacular. Scratch any Dan Quayle jokes at this point,  and consider if that formula indeed had been parlayed into a Republican dynasty of continually lesser and lesser vice presidents turning into nominees each eight-year interval.

That thought provided a second thread. A two-term Quayle presidency would have ended in 2004, three years into the war on terror, and the lesser light that I imagined taking office  would be the scion of a Orange County California power broker who managed to raise funds and turn the Far West into a GOP-stronghold. And this particular lesser light fills the bill by having amassed numerous frequent flyer miles at various drug and alcohol rehabilitation clinics from his late teens through his early 30s before a threat to his share of a family trust brought him to a new understanding of his family's ambitions.

So who is the dog on the rope? Is the "dog" the street slang for the family man who has shattered his dreams with an error in judgment? Or is it a reference to all of us trapped in the U.S. by a political system that operates simply to amass power for either side with no thought for the "greatest happiness for the greatest number" strain of philosophy.

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