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Saturday, July 20, 2024 | Back issues
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Unknown Fate

I saw a friend's Facebook page today and she had included a photo of two carved pumpkins representing the Tang Goddess and Little Unknown Fate.

On first take, the carving of the goddess gave an impression of serenity, perhaps thoughtfulness with some sadness mixed in.

And indeed, a bit of research - in other words typing the word "Tang Goddess" into Google's search engine - suggests the mythic figure is scholarly, analytical and has control over the weather.

But there is no doubt about what Little Unknown Fate represents, a fiery and tempestuous child capable of anything.

It matched up with my idea of the political future for the folks in Congress, in particular those up for election in November. They face Little Unknown Fate, a tempestuous child within the voting public.

And although Obama does not control the weather, or walk on water, he is analytical and thoughtful, and amazingly calm in the face of attack from the right.

So, like the figures of myth, they will go together into November, serene Obama and the tempestuous voter.

Because I was pretty sure, at the time that Obama confronted the Republicans in a day-long conference on health care, that he had scored a big hit stopping the Republican momentum in its tracks. Subsequent events showed that to be true.

Then the President, at last, came off his professorial perch and got down in the political street, swinging rhetorical haymakers at his opponents and the health insurance companies. While the Democrats in Congress finally reached down and found their courage, and their majority.

The radical opposition, the Republicans and their shock troops, agents provocateurs - the tea-baggers, as I call them - have vowed revenge. They say they will knock the Democrats out in November.

I don't know. It could go either way, like Little Fate.

There has been from the start an undercurrent of violence in the TEA Party folks, a morphing of the anti-abortion people, the anti-tax fringe, a sprinkling of survivalists and a core of those who prefer to go it alone, distrusting the law and the government.

In a long take-out on the group in the Times last month, a retiree from Idaho who leads one of the TEA party chapters is quoted, at the end of a five-page piece, as choosing her words carefully and saying: "Peaceful means are the best way of going about it. But sometimes you are not given a choice."

The recent threats against lawmakers who voted for the health care bill fit right in with that philosophy that all means are legitimate.

Unlike many commentators, I think such words are dangerous because they establish the intellectual justification for acts of violence. Specifically because the anti-abortionists preceded their murders with similar absolutist rhetoric.

But I think most voters on both sides, left and right, don't like extremes, don't like radical rhetoric and will reject a party that is tied to violence. So the unified and radicalized Republican party, instead of turning Democrats out, could itself get trounced in a few months time.

We will just have to see which way Little Unknown Fate chooses to go.

Because I keep coming back to those images in the pumpkins, glowing with a fire from within.

I can imagine the tall and slender goddess, patient and thoughtful, an intellectual, and, at the same time, powerful. With the strength to haul the clouds and release the rain.

Little Unknown Fate, as I see him, is true to the devilish design on the jack-o-lantern. With the wild and impulsive nature of a terrible two-year-old, equally capable of conscienseless, even gleeful, destruction. Yet also gifted with moments of radiant delight and a touch laden with the ability to sooth.

I don't know which of those two characters of myth and legend is in charge of our future, and, if it's the little fellow, which way he will run.

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