It is one thing for a blogger content with being "as insignificant as I should be" to suggest that the President of the United States may be clinically mad, even when the suggestion is backed up with the insights of Carl Gustav Jung; but it is quite another when a contender for nomination by the Democratic Party to run for that Presidential office makes the accusation to a major metropolitan newspaper, that is both news and chutzpah. As was reported last night by Associated Press, the contender in question is Dennis Kucinich; and the newspaper is The Philadelphia Inquirer. Kucinich made the remarks during an interview with the Inquirer's editorial board prior to the debate at Drexel University. Here are his words:
I seriously believe we have to start asking questions about his mental health. There's something wrong. He does not seem to understand his words have real impact.
I think it is important to note that Kucinich tried to keep his own words as moderate as possible without diminishing the seriousness of his accusation. For the Dennis-the-Menace reputation he has acquired since his days as Mayor of Cleveland, these particular words are not the outcry of some bratty kid trying to tell everyone else that the emperor has no clothes. Like the kid he is trying to get us to see things as they are; but he has taken a rhetorical approach that recognizes that, if he succeeds, it may be very hard for all of us to sustain the "real impact" of what he has said. Yes, this may just be the chutzpah of a would-be candidate whose numbers are so statistically insignificant that he will do anything to get on the national radar. However, even before he had declared that he would seek candidacy, Kucinich has tried to invoke his personal talent for plain speaking to bring our attention to serious truths, even when they are truths that "men prefer not to hear." In other words it is the chutzpah of saying what discretion advises against saying, even if it needs to be said.
Because Kucinich has been doing this for so long, I may be accused of having neglected him in the past for a Chutzpah of the Week award, to which I can only reply, "Mea culpa." I suppose my own editorial stance has shifted from focusing on the outrageously offensive in the interest of ridicule to calling out outrageousness with a more positive connotation. As I have previously suggested, this seems to be a consequence of the extent to which outrageously offensive acts seem to have become commonplace. We are as used to them in "real life" as we are when we see them in those all-too-popular slasher movies. They all but flood us; so, as is the case with the blood the Macbeth has shed, we are "Stepped in so far, that, should I wade no more,/Returning were as tedious as go o'er." My hope is that positive acts of chutzpah can give us all the will to "return," rather than "wade deeper." Kucinich has been trying to achieve this goal for some time, and it is about time that the Chutzpah of the Week award acknowledge his efforts.
As a final thought I think that Kucinich deserves credit for treating Tim Russert's UFO question during the Drexel debate with the laughableness it deserved. Once again he put aside the dictates of discretion, in this case by taking a page from the playbook of Stephen Colbert. By choosing to ask the question at all, Russert made it clear that he was more interested in entertainment than discourse; and Kucinich stood up to the challenge of playing on that particular field. He even came up with a punch line that put Russert on the defensive:
And also, you have to keep in mind that Jimmy Carter saw a UFO, and also that more people in this country have seen UFOs than I think approve of George Bush's presidency.