Frank Sinatra was important because he switched sides in the 1960s, moving from left to right across your political spectrum. He symbolized the journey millions of those in what Tom Brokaw later called "The Greatest Generation" made during that time.
That’s why the singer was a champ.
This journey has not been credited by enough historians. Most historians were too busy looking at the hippies and the yippies and the Black Panthers. It was the reaction to this extremism that mattered to the future, not the extremism itself.
This is a very important lesson for our time. When you see people like Tim LeHaye getting prime air time to predict the end of the world, or hear mass murder referred to constantly as cleaning out by so-called "experts" (most of whom would shit their pants if they had to do the cleaning) that’s extremism.
What we should be looking for, all of us, is the reaction. In fact, the reaction is what we should be participating in. We should be looking for new ways to describe our political world, new ways to engage in it, new myths to describe it, new values to follow. (Check.)
So who’s Frank Sinatra now?
I chose Charles Barkley (right) not because he’s black, but because he’s a jock. The plain fact is that most jocks, for most of the last generation, have been Republicans. Rabid Republicans. Look at Steve Largent, Jim Bunning, J.C. Watts. It doesn’t matter what color they were, they were Republicans because they were rich, they were gifted, they felt entitled, and they saw Republicans as protecting those entitlements from the rabble.
Then Barkley, who flirted with a run for Alabama Governor as a Republican during the 1990s, said something pretty startling. "I was a Republican…until they lost their minds." Some don’t consider that important. But coming from a card-carrying member of the jockocracy, it is.
If the jockocracy thinks Republicans have lost their minds, it’s because they have.
That was fun, and it reminds me of another game piece we might play with for next week.
While Sinatra moved from left to right, other celebrities in the 1960s moved from left to, well, lefter. They went from being conventional liberals to being, well, card-carrying members of the crazy brigade — politically speaking. Despite a lifetime spent trying to apologize and explain their actions in those times, the world has not forgiven, not has it apparently forgotten.
So, who’s Jane Fonda now?