Downton Revisited …

It being my custom to do things somewhat backwards — I blame it on having been a posterior presentation at birth — I’m seizing the opportunity afforded me by this second — less vexed — post to launch my blog.  The blog owes its name to my day job, about which I frequently complain because I am either repeatedly pushing the same boulder up the literal and proverbial Hill, or looking on while things that seem straightforward and reasonable get derailed in favor of things that are neither of those, and you can often find yourself having the strangest adventures while all of this occurs.  Facts are forgotten, twisted, and sometimes made up.  But it’s never dull.  And because the news cycle is neverending, it feels like there’s not always time to peel back the layers of some things that are being said and done by people who have significant influence  in our lives, or the way we’re able to live them, including politicians, popular and religious influencers. Thus, I hope this blog will be a place where I can talk about some of those issues/people and dig bellow the surface a bit.  Thanks for making my first blog a smashing, if unexpected success.  At this point, nearly 200 people have read it.  I hope you found it worthwhile, and that you’ll return and engage if you’re of a mind.

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Since I weighed in last week on Ellen Sturtz’s pas de deux with the First Lady, the Washington Post has given her the pen, so I thought I would also offer a few additional thoughts.   I begin with a question:  why are people still talking about this?  I answer by pointing the finger at the media as I did previously.  In my view, the Post has done nothing but sustain a non-story, with over 3,800 people commenting on Ms. Sturtz’s column.  And in so doing, it has rewarded Ms. Sturtz’s bad behavior.  The explicit message is that if you act up in public, you might get rewarded with a larger forum for your message.  Her message is a good one:  that the question of what’s happening to our LGBT youth is important, that there should be explicit employment protections for LGBT people, and that the President promised to fight for that  However, it appears to me — judging by the responses to her piece — that her methods have drowned out her message.  That is, everyone is busy either wagging a finger at her, or giving her an attagirl for what she said to the First Lady, and few people are focused on why she said what she did.  More’s the pity, since any kind of mandate on business has been a difficult thing to come by in this Administration and even where that’s happened — e.g. the Dodd Frank law, which was aimed at ending the excesses of Wall Street that gave rise to the crisis/bailout of 5+ years ago — we appear to be light years behind in term of implementation.

So what’s the takeaway?  The strategic use of protest to advance your message and move a seemingly intransigent government can work wonders.  Martin Luther King knew that, and so did ACT UP.  But what Ms. Sturtz did, sadly, does not qualify.  It may well have hurt the cause she clearly cares passionately about if the Administration feels like it would be a sign of weakness to capitulate, and continues to do nothing.  While “nothing ventured,”  can sometimes be true, it’s true just as often in this town that you’re most likely to prevail if your resort to “guerilla lobbying,” is part of a well planned strategy, rather than just a frustration driven blurt fest.   Sadly, it doesn’t appear that Ms. Sturtz has learned much from this incident:  she paid her money, she made her point, and she  was rewarded with a forum.  Nowhere in her ten paragraph piece (where the word “I” appears in all but one of the paragraphs), does she find the moment to do the one thing that could do more than anything to gain allies for her issue, and get her cause back on the rails:  apologize. Nor does she seize the platform to tell people what they could do to help exert some pressure on the Administration:  makes some calls, sign a petition, secure a high level meeting … something!!  Ms. Sturtz, you’ve both seized the moment and squandered it.  A tragedy if ever there was one.

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