Obama & Biden Waxing Western
Alaska’s Sarah “Answer no Questions” Palin and Arizona’s John “Quick Draw” McCain are westerns hell-bent for leather. You’ve seen the TV ads for these two “mavericks.” This sagebrush duo aims to ride into Dodge (actually, our nation’s capital) madder than a passel of wet cougars and shoot that effete, side-saddle burg all to heck. By jingo, they’ll make those Eastern pols and lobbyists dance, at least the ones who aren’t running their campaign.
This means Barack Obama (Illinois) and Joe Biden (Maryland) better slap leather fast if they want to capture the John Wayne/Marlborough Man vote. Bart and Brett may be taken, but there are plenty of mythical Western personas up for grabs.
How about Paladin? In “Have Gun Will Travel,” Richard Boone played a gentlemanly gunslinger who prefers to settle problems without violence — I know, what in the Sam Hill is up with that? Of course, when push comes to shove, which it does in every episode, Katie bar the door! But before Barack and Joe don black outfits and grow pencil-thin mustaches, they better vet this ambiguous fictional hero.
Although a West Point graduate, Boone’s character is not without the kind of baggage that will draw withering fire from Palin-a-din and McCain, those trigger-happy, tumbling tumbleweeds. When he isn’t riding the range, Paladin lives in San Francisco, in an elite hotel, where he eats gourmet food (not moose jerky). He is a polymath, speaking numerous foreign languages fluently. He attends the opera. Let’s move on, shall we?
The Lone Ranger is worth a peek. The masked man is mysterious and inclusive. He is also, like, totally hip, saying “Hi-yo” to anyone who will listen, but mostly to his fiery steed, Silver. Thanks to his faithful Indian companion, Tonto, he is “down” with Native Americans, who could be a decisive demographic in several western swing states come November.
But let’s vet further. This former Texas Ranger shoots silver bullets, but he does so only to wound, not to kill. Clearly, this is a chink in his manly meme. What’s more, the Republicans could mock his name, labeling Obama as a fiscally irresponsible, subprime “Loan Arranger.” Finally, the whole mystery thing could backfire. As many in the TV series ask, “Just who is that masked man, anyway?” What has he got to hide? How come he’s always with Tonto, or that buff stallion? I mean, in more than 100 episodes, this dude never goes on a single date?
So let’s check out the unambiguously heterosexual Matt Dillon of “Gunsmoke,” America’s most beloved and longest running TV Western. The strong silent type and then some, Marshal Dillon rules Dodge with a firm but calm hand. He only goes postal once, when an outlaw messes with his primary squeeze, Miss Kitty Russell. Joe Biden would be a natural as the marshal’s sidekick, Chester Goode.
The problem here is family values. Matt and Kitty purr together periodically, although they are not married. Actually, this is no biggie nowadays; might even be massaged into a positive. You know, regular folks doing regular things fairly regularly. Sorry to report, however, that Miss Kitty runs the Long Branch Saloon (not to be confused with those liberal Georgetown salons) and rents some rooms to boot, by the hour. Yes, Miss Kitty is running a house of ill repute one floor up from the bar.
It is portrayed discretely – this is the 1950s and 1960s, after all — but it is what it is. In the radio version of “Gunsmoke,” Kitty is not simply a madam, she is a lady of the evening as well. That’s about that for Matt, I’d say.
If the trail goes cold for suitable Western role models, Barack and Joe can simply adopt as their campaign anthem the rowdy theme song to “Rawhide.” Rowdy Yates (Clint Eastwood) is a little too hot-headed for today’s complex world, but the show’s tune totally rocks as an expression of Western values — and of what the Democrats want to do to the Republicans this fall. Here’s a taste:
Keep movin', movin', movin'
Though they're disapprovin'
Keep them dogies movin'
Don't try to understand 'em
Just rope, throw, and brand 'em