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December 18, 2006

Serious Suggestions for 2007

1. Republicans: Bring back Don Rumsfeld. He's enormously talented, a national treasure, maybe indispensable. He's not evil, or a knee-jerk partisan; he correctly gets that civil rights are different in a war, and just needs to clean up his act a bit. He is a different breed than Cheney, Rice or Wolfowitz and has loads more real character and strength than Colin Powell. (Take a good look, too. Rummy "is us"--like him or not.) Forget about his age. He's too smart to waste, not ready for retirement.

2. Democrats: Consider a Joe Biden-Hillary Clinton ticket in 2008. It might work, if Senator Biden can get past certain old baggage with the voters. Hillary Rodham Clinton can't win--maybe not ever, but certainly not in 2008--and Biden has that Bill Clinton/President Bush-esque gift of connection with voters that HRC lacks and will continue to lack. A natural politician, Joe Biden actually likes other people, and it shows.

3. Consider a system of nationwide reciprocity in lawyer licensing. Let NY counsel freely invade CA if they need to to work there for longstanding clients as long as they agree to CA bar discipline.

4. Take a stand. Discourage "required" gender-neutral speech. Enough is enough. Let nature take its course. Words come into the arsenal of real English when they are ready. Quit forcing the issue. Resist "chairperson".

5. In the alternative, set aside a "required" day where everyone must smoke, smoke heavily, and smoke Camel non-filters.

6. In the alternative, set aside a day in the workplace on which everyone must talk to one another like Elvis ("thankyouvirymutch, for that e-mail, little honeys..."). And on that day, flirt in the workplace--and openly. Refuse to be a Dweeb.

7. Work very hard at anything you care about. Plan. Pray. And...swear and curse more--but only at work, and only on the record. More Howard, less Conan, less Rosie. More Parker Posey, less anyone named Brittany, Justin or other Gen X names. More Annabeth Gish. More Ellen Bry. Everyone in U.S. must acknowledge in writing that the simplest woman is 10 times more complex than any man.

8. Joking about any client is now a firing offense.

9. Stop Political and Cultural Stereotyping--and other Drive-By Cartoon-ings.

If you are a Democrat, please talk--really talk--to a Republican. And vice versa. Humans are complex and have all manner of reasons for voting or thinking the way they do. Resist the temptation to reduce people to political stereotypes in order to feel warm, fuzzy and self-righteous about your own ferverently-held beliefs, choices and situation. Be fairer. We all fall short here--even international and ecumenical WAC?, on his best day, harbors unfair prejudices and misapprehensions. Its smartest, best-read and best-travelled GOP and Dem friends do, too.

And the most gifted Americans also screw this one up royally, by conveniently reducing people with whom they disagree to cartoons and stock characters from bad morality plays. This past year one of my client reps, Julie McGuire (of Hull McGuire) and I had dinner with a wonderful and engaging poet and Pulitzer Prize winner. As he admitted, and movingly confessed, he was insular and isolated with other writers, academics and friends at Princeton and at his other home in Paris to a degree that my law partner Julie McGuire, was "the first Republican" he had talked with in many, many years. He seemed genuinely shocked (1) that he liked Julie, (2) that she was first in her class at Carnegie-Mellon in Mathematics and Business before entering law school (in which she was also first in her class), (3) that she had ever read James Joyce and (4) that she is both religious and spiritual, and very kind. Republicans, he had always felt, must be shallow, insensitive, patriotic in a goofy way, way dumb and just plain mean.

That, ladies and gentleman, is cultural insanity. And we are all doing it this decade in some degree. Americans are smarter than that. The culture war in America has become a drug too many of us need to feel Moral, Part of The Correct Sub-Tribe, and Right. Being Right is expensive, and will stunt your growth. Avoid contempt prior to investigation. Stop turning one another into silly Sci-Fi monsters-that-never-were. If you are a "D", start with George Bush, one of our most "American"--the good stuff/the bad stuff, warts and all--presidents ever (like Rumsfeld, Bush is us.) If you are an "R", re-evaluate Wild Bill Clinton, a visionary, inspirational and at heart a genuinely pro-people guy who, like Rummy, was damn funny and fun with reporters. Talent is talent--and none of these guys are Vlad the Impaler, Dr. Evil or Bugs Bunny. They trim Christmas trees, have dinner with family, play saxophones and drink beer in the Boom-Boom Room at the Westin like the rest of us.

10. Finally, and more importantly, Do Grow. Have a difficult but worthwhile relationshp. Read Hunter Thompson, and Francois Villon. Travel. Talk to people who aren't like you at all. Leave a legacy. Be original in some productive way. And at least play your old Yardbirds, John Mayall, Byrds and Kinks albums. Loud.

But get out of your cars and dance. Have a great 2007.


Posted by JD Hull at December 18, 2006 11:41 PM

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