A Budget Deal; Orion and Outer Space; Mark Wahlberg's Redemption; Chairman of the Board

A Budget Deal; Orion and Outer Space; Mark Wahlberg's Redemption; Chairman of the Board

By Carl M. Cannon - December 12, 2014

Good morning, it’s Friday, December 12, 2014. Last night, the denizens of Capitol Hill averted another government shutdown with a close and contentious vote in the House to fund the federal budget for the fiscal year; a two-day extension will give the Senate time to do its part.

Passing spending bills is Congress’ constitutionally prescribed duty, so this shouldn’t be such a huge deal every year. But rancor and brinkmanship apparently form the default position in 21st century U.S. politics, so I suppose we should be grateful.

At this time of the year, however, one does sometimes wish that our elected representatives could look across the aisle at the members of the other party and heed the wisdom of a famously bipartisan political philosopher, Frank Sinatra.

“If you don't know the guy on the other side…love him anyway because he's just like you,” Sinatra said in a 1963 interview with Hollywood columnist Joe Hyams. “He has the same dreams, the same hopes and fears. It's one world, pal. We're all neighbors.”

Sinatra practiced what he preached, at least in politics: He campaigned hard for Franklin Roosevelt, and ever harder for Jack Kennedy, even working on the 1961 JFK inauguration. Later in that tumultuous decade, Sinatra endorsed Richard Nixon for president, and in 1980 he was all-in for another Republican, his old movie industry pal Ronald Reagan.

Sinatra is on my mind this morning because today is his birthday. The pride of Hoboken, N.J. was born on December 12, 1915.

I’ll have a further word on his career in a moment. First, let me refer you to RealClearPolitics’ front page, which offers an array of columns and analysis spanning the political spectrum. We also offer a complement of original material from RCP’s reporters and contributors, including the following:

* * * 

Orion, Risk Taking, and Learning How Far We Can Go. As part of our series on tech innovation, Elliot Holokauahi Pulham reflects on the balancing of security and risk that is essential to the space program – and all human endeavor.

Mark Wahlberg’s Redemption. The actor has asked Massachusetts’ governor to pardon him for a 1988 crime. In RealClearReligion, Alasdair Denvil writes that the case provides an opportunity to better understand the nature of forgiveness.

Top 10 Bowl Games of 2014-15. Brian Colella compiled this list in RealClearSports.

 * * *

It’s not every professional singer who hears himself nicknamed “The Voice” -- only one, actually -- so it’s safe to say the Frank Sinatra’s place in the American musical pantheon was secure by the time he reached early middle age. But it’s also a matter of historical record that his storied career, which began in the late 1930s, was in decline by the early 1950s.

As if to prepare for life’s second act, Sinatra purchased an interest in the Sands Hotel in Las Vegas in 1953. He also got more serious about the movie roles he played, and about his acting.

That same year, he had a complicated role in the film version of James Jones’ best-selling novel about American GIs stationed in Hawaii just before the U.S. entry into World War II, “From Here to Eternity.” Playing Maggio, a combative and valiant Italian-American soldier, Sinatra won an Academy Award.

Also in 1953, he signed with Capitol Records in a deal that seemed minor at the time. It proved to be the beginning of a remarkable resurgence for a crooner who now relied on interpretation more than just a great voice. The LP was catching on, and Sinatra’s ability to stretch his emotional appeal to album-length theme records was a perfect vehicle for the popular new technology. “I’ve got the World on a String” was the name of the hit single on the first Capitol album. It also nicely captured Sinatra’s career.

His Oscar-winning performance in “From Here to Eternity” was followed by a stint playing a would-be presidential assassin in ''Suddenly'' (1954); Nathan Detroit in “Guys and Dolls” (1955); and an ex-con in “The Man With the Golden Arm” (also in 1955), for which he was nominated as best actor.

Next came ''High Society'' (1956); ''Pal Joey'' and “The Joker Is Wild” (both 1957); ''Some Came Running'' (1958); and “The Manchurian Candidate'' (1962). “Ocean’s 11,” released in 1960, was the first of a Sinatra trilogy featuring the Rat Pack -- Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, Sammy Davis Jr. and Joey Bishop.

At a 1983 ceremony for Kennedy Center Honorees, President Reagan reminisced about these movies, while providing an affectionate biographical summary of Sinatra’s career:

“Francis Albert Sinatra was born in Hoboken, New Jersey, and started to like music when his uncle gave him a ukulele,” Reagan began. “And one day in 1936, he went to a Jersey City vaudeville house to see Bing Crosby. After the show, Frank suddenly announced that he was becoming a singer.

“In 1937, his group, the Hoboken Four, won first prize on “Major Bowes' Original Amateur Hour.” And for the next year and a half, he sang at the Rusty Cabin, a north Jersey roadhouse, for $15 a week. Let me repeat that: For a year and a half, Frank Sinatra worked for $15 a week. But it paid off. He got a $10-a-week raise.

“After working with Harry James, Frank joined the Tommy Dorsey Band and started to develop a distinctive song style -- long phrases and glissando -- that's technical talk for crooning. Today, Frank Sinatra has recorded more hits than just about anybody else, hits like ‘Night and Day,’ ‘That Old Black Magic,’ ‘Strangers in the Night,’ ‘New York, New York,’ and so many more.

“Through the years, Frank's been in a movie or two: ‘It Happened in Brooklyn,’ ‘On the Town,’ his Oscar-winning role in ‘From Here to Eternity.’ And Frank got a chance to sing with his old hero, Bing Crosby, in one of the most enjoyable movies ever made, ‘High Society.’

“You know, Frank, if they'd only given me roles like that, I never would have left Hollywood. Except for the musical numbers, they'd have had to get you to dub the voice in.

“Well, all along, your style has been relaxed and full of life. You're given millions of us fond memories, immeasurable joy. And one other thing, Frank, you did it your way.”

Carl M. Cannon
Washington Bureau Chief
@carlcannon (Twitter)

Carl M. Cannon is the Washington Bureau Chief for RealClearPolitics. Reach him on Twitter @CarlCannon.

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