Monday, May 4, 2009

Clay Overbury and James Burden Day come to Kentucky

One of my favorite writers is Gore Vidal. I am, frankly, enamored with his series of political/historical novels, blending real political figures and events with fictional characters and story-lines. I've mentioned them before. A lot of history, and particularly political history, can be learned from reading Vidal's novels, if one can keep the fiction out of the way.

According to the critics, the least historic and most fictional of the group of seven of his many books which fit this category is Washington DC, written in 1967. One of the characters is Clay Overbury. Another is James Burden Day. Overbury is a protege and staff member of Day, who is a longtime member of the United States Senate. And while the novel is novel-length, one of the shorter and recurring internal plots is Overbury's desire to supplant Day in the Senate. And at one point in the novel, Overbury, who is young and handsome and ambitious, and a pseudo-military hero, announces that he is going to run for Senator Day's seat, while also saying he wouldn't run if Day did. But he was running. And eventually Day didn't.

If this sounds like some of the political theater going on up and down I-75 between northern Kentucky and Frankfort, there are similarities, indeed. But I've mentioned most of them. There are also very stark differences between the two characters in the novel and the would-be screenplay unfolding in the Kentucky Republican Party. Clay Overbury is a genuine fraud. James Burden Day is a well-liked, deeply thoughtful, and rather effective United States Senator. Their counterparts in Kentucky are, respectively, neither.

Sitting, as I do, way over on the other side of the aisle, gives me a pretty good seat to see the current drama unfold. When I go to the theater, I like to sit in the center-aisle front row seat up in the balcony, if possible, so as to see everything on stage and off. And right now what is happening off-stage seems to be more entertaining.


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Louisville, Kentucky, United States
Never married, liberal Democrat, born in 1960, opinionated but generally pleasant, member of the Episcopal Church. Graduate of Prestonia Elementary, Durrett High, and Spalding University; the first two now-closed Jefferson County Public Schools, the latter a very small liberal arts college in downtown Louisville affiliated with the Roman Catholic Sisters of Charity of Nazareth. My vocation and avocation is politics. My favorite pastime is driving the backroads of Kentucky and southern Indiana, visiting small towns, political hangouts, courthouses, churches, and cemeteries. You are welcome to ride with me sometime.