The Buddhists have a concept about their teachings, which are collectively known as “the Dharma”: They say that we who are living on this earth at this time are very fortunate because we have access to the Dharma, should we choose to accept these teachings. It’s up to us. Buddhists don’t proselytize — They don’t try to convert anyone. We don’t have to listen — But the clear implication is that if we DO choose to listen and to accept these teachings, we will be better off. I’m not a Buddhist, but I like the way they think with regard to accepting a spiritual message … or a political one …
In February of 2012, I saw a tweet from my NY Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand saying that she would be appearing on a new political show hosted by former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm. I was immediately intrigued to hear that the Governor had a TV show because I had liked her since back in the 2008 Democratic primaries when she campaigned for Hillary Clinton. The new TV show was called “The War Room With Jennifer Granholm” (known as “TWR”) — a reference to the “war room” of a political campaign, where strategy is planned. The new show was airing on the struggling Current TV network, a company owned by former Vice President Al Gore. TWR had only been on for a month or so when I heard about it from Sen. Gillibrand’s tweet. Although I missed the Senator’s interview that night, I went online and found TWR’s website, located a video clip of the Gillibrand interview, and made a note to watch the show the next night. I became a diehard fan not long after that. The show was made for progressive political junkies like me — no dumbing down of the issues — sharp, intelligent discussion from professional Democratic strategists, pollsters, progressive issues advocates, elected officials, and so on. For a nightly hour-long show, it seemed as if there was never enough time to cover the 2012 presidential election, the downticket races, general political news, plus non-political current events. I was riveted from the start and stayed stuck to TWR for an entire year until it ended abruptly. Along the way, I was blessed to get to correspond with Gov. Granholm on Twitter during the past year where she often tweets and responds to her supporters. I must thank the Gov and her staff for putting up with me. I am very outspoken, and like all New Yorkers, I have no problem giving my opinion. At times I’m sure I must have sounded like one of those two old Muppets who sit in the balcony and heckle the show! I am lucky I wasn’t banished from TWR World for complaining loudly about Republican guests invading the show each week. Thankfully, TWR staff and the Gov gave me a pass and let me continue commenting on the show’s Twitter feed and on the Gov’s Twitter page. I’m glad my big NYC mouth wasn’t too much for you folks!
The best part of “The War Room” was the truly amazing host, Governor Granholm. I had liked her to begin with, but after watching her on TWR each night, I was just thankful that I had seen a random tweet from my senator leading me to the treasure of this show hosted by one of the most passionate advocates for progressive issues I have ever come across. To her legions of fans, she is known as “Jennifer”, “Jen”, or simply “Gov”. To me — since the Hillary primary days of ’08 — she has been known as “Governor Badass” or better yet “JGran”. Whatever we call her, she is one of a kind — one of the strongest voices for progressives, Democrats, women … the list goes on.
If you aren’t familiar with Gov. Granholm, and if you still have access to Current TV on your cable service, by all means run and watch “The War Room” before it ends. And if you want to know why Democrats (and secretly Republicans heh) are mesmerized by this incredible woman and her message, watch the videos at the end of this blog post. The first one is the Governor’s full speech at last September’s Democratic National Convention 2012. The second clip is an excerpt of that same speech filmed by CNN, giving us an alternate camera angle. If you watch those two videos and you don’t get caught up in the sheer joy of the performance, there is something really wrong with you and you should seek help immediately. To call Jennifer’s delivery “electrifying” is an understatement. But it was also the message itself — of hope for the unemployed, of a devastated auto industry rebounding after the bailouts, of working people all over the country gaining good jobs again — This was the kind of inspiration that had me literally laughing out loud as I watched Gov. Granholm take over that convention hall and blow the roof off the joint. The Gov up on that podium was in command, gorgeous, unmatched — A speech like none I have ever witnessed in all of my 45 years of political activism. Legendary now, and rightly so.
Earlier this month, the New York Times broke the story that Current TV had been sold. In a controversial move, Al Gore sold the network to a foreign government. Amidst the immediate fallout that same day, Gov. Granholm announced that she would be leaving “The War Room” because her contract was up. I watched the show that night, not knowing that it would be the last episode of TWR that I would get to see. Within hours of the announcement about the sale, my cable provider dropped Current TV from their service. I read that there were some cities where the cable provider pulled the plug on Current so fast, they yanked “The War Room” off the air in mid-show! At least I was able to see the whole show, but I didn’t know until later that night that there would not be any future programming on that channel. We don’t know yet what Gov. Granholm will do next with regard to TV. There’s been speculation she may enter the Obama Administration in some capacity. We don’t know. I hope she takes on another political TV show. She is just so good at what she does. When it comes to political analysis and interviews, nobody does it better than Jennifer.
These last few years have been very difficult for me personally, but I am aware that I have been offered many gifts in my life. I have relatively good health, wonderful friends, and vivid memories of beloved family members who recently passed away. These are gifts that I must acknowledge even while in the middle of struggle. Sometimes we are given blessings, but we don’t see them. Or we see them, but we don’t act to accept them immediately because we are busy with other problems, other struggles. I try to make it a point to see all gifts in my life, to acknowledge them, and ultimately to accept them. I have seen over the past year an amazing and unexpected gift in “The War Room With Jennifer Granholm”, with the messages and the speech from the DNC, and with the presence in my life of the charismatic and passionate Governor herself.
Robert Thurman was the first American ever to be ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk back in the 1960s. A few years ago, the legendary Buddhist scholar appeared on a TV news show to discuss the future of Tibet. I was aware of Bob Thurman’s work long before his kids grew up. He has a daughter named Uma who is now a famous actress you may have heard of. At the end of the TV show segment, the host congratulated Prof. Thurman on his daughter’s successful film career. If I recall correctly, Bob replied humbly, in gratitude: “I will accept that.”
I would like to borrow from Bob Thurman and the Buddhists once again and say: The gods of the political realm have given us an extraordinary messenger in Jennifer Granholm. I see it and acknowledge it. I will accept that. Thank you for Governor Granholm and other gifts.