June 22, 2004

Davis-Moon Watch, ongoing 

posted by Paul Smith @ 11:59 PM
Barack Obama must be the only person happier than Danny Davis that Jack Ryan's divorce files have dropped. Jack's lying takes the spotlight off Davis and his dalliances with Moon for the foreseeable future, just as the story was gaining traction in Chicago, with both the Trib and the Daily Southtown picking it up in print. The whole phenomenon was rather ephemeral to begin with; a surge of interest over a months-old event that could only happen in the age of blogs and Google caches. Of course, though, the story of the coronation and its Congressional representation is alive and well: witness Monday's Salon lead article from Gorenfeld, and local pieces from around the country (cf. Pittsburgh; my hometown of Frederick, MD, which needs a healthy dose of BugMeNot, unfortunately). And everyone who knows the story knows Davis is the only attending Congressman that's not distancing himself from the event's stated purpose. So it's not hard to imagine the focus looping back around to him somewhere down the road.

I don't believe Davis has a political problem yet, especially this year when Democrats are loathe to jeopardize any safe seat. The district is so heavily Democratic — Davis' share of the general election vote in each of his wins has been 80% or above — that it's nearly inconceivable that it would fall into GOP hands. (However, his Republican opponent, Antonio Davis-Fairman is also African-American; while inexperienced and virtually unknown to voters — he received less votes running unopposed in the Republican primary than the last place candidate in the three-way Democratic race — he could present himself as the sane alternative to Davis in a heavily African-American district.)

But Davis does have a major image problem now. It could become a weakness that draws out a serious primary challenge in two years. But mostly, it's embarrassing, and not the kind of embarrassment that solicits sympathy. As if the mere association to Moon wasn't bad enough, Davis compounds the problem by delivering bewildering rationalizations of the infamous coronation:
"People crown kings and queens at homecoming parades all the time," (to Eric Zorn, Chicago Tribune)
"You know the Boy Scouts have rituals that they go through and they make individuals Eagle Scouts and they give awards and presentations." (to Christopher Hayes, Chicago Reader)
Davis wouldn't budge, comparing the elaborate ceremony to a "fraternity or sorority meeting," or rituals performed by the local Elks lodge. "That's kind of the way I regard these ceremonies." (to Rich Miller, Capitol Fax)
What's troubling is that Davis may well be the only person on earth who believes that. Surely the true believers at the Dirksen took Moon at his word. And the Congresspeople who have sinced disavowed the event took it seriously enough to go out of their way to claim they didn't know what it was really about. Ironically, Davis dismisses the event as "symbolic" and yet fails to grasp that it's precisely the symbology of this religious ceremony taking place on government grounds with governmental countenance that's set this whole thing in motion. Davis comes across as a dupe or a low-rent flak for Moon, and I don't know which is worse. In any case, Davis is clearly willing to risk being seen as a loony cultist rather than running afoul of Moon, for what reason, we still do not know.

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