Commentary: Deja vu -- the sequel
This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Nov. 4, 2010 - When I was a kid, theaters ran double features -- two movies for the price of one. Typically, a first-run film was paired with a "B" movie, which was a low budget production selected to complete the bill of fare. If John Wayne starred in the main attraction, John Payne might play the lead in the second film.
The movies ran continuously throughout the day and each showing was preceded by cartoons, public service announcements and previews of coming attractions. Once you paid to get in, you could stay as long as you liked; so people tended to be fairly casual about starting times, coming and going throughout the production.
Usually, we'd arrive somewhere in the middle of the B movie and watch the end of that film, followed by the short subjects, the main attraction and then the beginning of the second film that we'd missed originally.
At some point during the rerun of the second movie, you'd experience a deja vu moment when you realized that you'd previously seen what was taking place on the screen and knew how the plot would turn out. That's when you'd stand up to leave and whisper to the person seated next to you, "Pardon me, but this is where I came in."
Though double features long ago joined full-service gas stations in the ash heap of history, deja vu is enjoying something of a comeback.
Last week, Jeffrey Landrigan gained momentary notoriety because of his unique valediction on the occasion of his execution in Arizona. The Oklahoma native had been serving time for murder in his home state when he escaped from prison more than 20 years ago. A year later, he killed a man during a home invasion in Phoenix and was sentenced to death.
After a couple of decades of ultimately futile appeals, the Supreme Court finally lifted the stay of his execution. Asked in the death chamber if he had any last words, Landrigan thanked his family for taking time to attend the event, then departed this mortal coil after shouting, "Boomer Sooner!" -- the rallying cry of the University of Oklahoma football team.
Onlookers thus acquired a new appreciation for the term "diehard fan," as this guy literally took his game to the next level
Landrigan's defiant expression of school spirit was made all the more poignant because it came only three days after OU was knocked from the #1 ranking in the BCS standings by the University of Missouri.
The big win at Mizzou marked the first time in Coach Gary Pinkel's rebuilding program -- currently in its 10th year -- that the Tigers had managed to best, or even come close to, the powerhouse Sooners.
With this signature victory under their collective belt and OU's most rabid fan permanently out of the game, the future looked bright indeed for the unbeaten Tigers. Alas, that's when the deja vu factor kicked in.
The following Saturday, Mizzou travelled to Lincoln, Neb., for its 104th game against the Cornhuskers. As Nebraska is slated to move to the Big 10 at season's end, this would be the final conference meeting of a series that dates back to 1892.
The Tigers, ranked #6 in the BCS by virtue of beating OU, took the field against #14 Nebraska to vie for control of the Big 12 North. (Interestingly, the official score of the first game between the schools is recorded as Nebraska 1; Missouri 0. That's because Missouri forfeited the contest rather than compete against a Nebraska squad that included an African-American player.)
A rivalry that began with a moral embarrassment subsequently ended in athletic humiliation as the Huskers romped 31-17 in a game that wasn't nearly as close as the final score may make it seem. Once again, forlorn dreams of a national championship for Mizzou came to a familiar end in the garish light of day.
While deja vu worked its magic on the gridiron, the Democrats prepared for their return to oblivion. Two short years after gaining control of the federal government on a platform of hope and change, they were roundly rebuffed by voters who were now hoping to exchange the deal they'd bought into.
Having failed to effectively address the pressing concerns of chronic unemployment and economic stagnation, the Dems made health-care reform the centerpiece of their domestic agenda. After they finally managed to cram an unread 2,500+ page bill down the throat of a highly skeptical body politic, their individual candidates ran from the legislation as though it were the plague.
Joe Biden famously characterized passage of Obamacare as "a big F--ing deal." To the extent that control of the House of Representatives is a BFD, he was right.
Q: During the course of the seemingly interminable campaign, did you see one ad in which a Democrat stood up for the health-care package?
Despite some generally popular provisions like coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or the ability to keep dependents on family plans until their 26th birthdays, supporters of the plan abandoned their triumph as though it were a political Titanic -- which it turned out to be.
Their other significant legislative victory, banking reform, was likewise ignored. Ironically, this legislation provides genuine consumer protections that should have been widely popular in the wake of devastating Wall Street scandals. Instead of advertising these advantages, the Dems failed to mention them for fear of being labeled socialists.
Given the deafening silence of the incumbents, members of the party out of power were free to demagogue at will. They laid into an undefended agenda with dull axes, portraying their adversaries as dim-witted traitors who would bankrupt the country for political advantage.
Announcing a new-found regard for attacking budget deficits, the Republicans returned to power in the House and made big gains in the Senate by promoting a platform of tax relief for the affluent and keeping the government out of free markets -- or exactly the policies that landed us in this mess in the first place.
Pardon me, but I believe this is where I came in ...
M.W.Guzy is a retired St. Louis cop who currently works for the city Sheriff's Department. His column appears weekly in the Beacon.