Monday, August 17, 2020

TV Quote of the Day (‘Parks and Recreation,’ on ‘A Great Time To Be a Woman in Politics’)

Leslie Knope [played by Amy Poehler]: “It's a great time to be a woman in politics: Hillary Clinton, Sarah Palin, me, Nancy Pelosi.”— Parks and Recreation, Season 1, Episode 1, “Pilot,” original air date Apr. 9, 2009, teleplay by Greg Daniels and Michael Schur, directed by Greg Daniels

Don’t you just smile at the way that “me” is inserted so inconspicuously into the list in this quote, when Leslie, like any politician, veteran or aspiring, wants it to be where it’ll be most noticed, whether first or last?

This week, Kamala Harris would surely join the names on this list. (Who knows, at some future point, if Nikki Haley might, too?) But what’s most striking is the evanescence of the others here.

Leslie, of course—“me”—went through her own ups and downs in local politics, before entering Sitcom Valhalla. Sarah Palin parlayed her brief political celebrity into a different kind, one perhaps more suited for her talents—reality TV star—before settling into irrelevance. As for Hillary Clinton, she got her “first”—first female Presidential nominee—before becoming a warning to all future politicians, of both sexes, never to count on a seemingly certain election being in the bag.

Only Nancy Pelosi—biding her time, waiting out those who claimed she was too old and out of touch with her party—persists. I suspect she smiles irrepressibly, the way that Kate McKinnon does in playing her on SNL, when she thinks back on the Presidential primary season in 1976, when Jerry Brown flung the old New Testament line at the born-again candidate, Jimmy Carter: “For the first shall be last, and the last shall be first.”

Maybe that’s the principal lesson for anyone, now or in the future, hoping that this will be “a great time to be a woman in politics”: Above all else, endure.

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