Contrasts

May 13, 2009

President Barack Obama gave the commencement address at Arizona State University tonight.  There was some controversy attached to this appearance — the university refused to give him an honorary degree in addition to the honor of speaking, claiming that his “body of work was not yet complete” and that his achievements thus far didn’t warrant the degree.  Obama turned the controversy on its head in what was a terrific address (I just finished watching it).  In the speech he actually agreed that his body of work wasn’t done yet and that fancy titles don’t mean as much as true achievement and the pursuit of aims that are larger than oneself.  It was humorous, it was a call to action and public service for the ASU graduates in attendance, and it was very well received.

It was also announced today that Harper-Collins, in its infinite wisdom, will pay Alaska Governor Sarah Palin a multi-million dollar advance for her “memoirs” (her “co-author” — read “ghost writer” — has not yet been selected, but there will be one, according to the Harper-Collins press release).  So, while President Obama has not yet achieved enough to earn an honorary degree from ASU, Sarah Palin has achieved enough to write a memoir for which a major publishing house will pay millions.  While Obama spent his evening exhorting a generation of graduates to acts of altruism and charity, Palin embarked on what will be an act of ego gratification, greed, and self-promotion.

I would find all of this laughable if it weren’t so disturbing….

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