Here are the things that do not worry me at all.
That Barack Obama smoked pot. The only thing I can say about this is: Oh. Please. Stop. This — and the severe penalties that people can be exposed to for taking naked pictures of their toddlers at the beach and having them developed at Walmart — are perhaps the worst residue of the Reagan era’s conservative cultural backlash. Being honest about getting high is, in my opinion, one of the things that makes this man genuine in his approach to others — it’s no wonder that young people like him! And I can name at least one prominent conservative intellectual/pundit, a man who helped get us into the Iraq war, who I got high with repeatedly in college. So shut up already. Clearly getting high is not a barrier to power.
That Hillary Clinton is a racist. This is truly absurd. Hillary and Bill have been profoundly progressive on race, Bill as a white governor in a state that — under former governor Orville Faubus — was for a short time the poster child for massive white resistance to desegregation. And Barack Obama has offered us proof of what he said in last night’s debate was his great weakness — a lack of executive experience — by not putting the hammer down on this right away. I am quite sure that he does not believe in the kind of attack that was launched by people in his campaign in response to Senator Clinton’s remarks about Dr. King. Now the Clintons are not so progressive on welfare, education, unionization or fair trade. But those are different — if related — issues, and not what Senator Clinton was attacked about. Which, to my mind, means something about the political intent of those who attacked her.
That John Edwards has a large, expensive house. Has anyone evaluated the Clinton bungalow lately, in lovely Westchester County? How about the Obama homestead in pricey metropolitan Illinois? And perhaps the founder of modern liberalism — not to mention the welfare state itself — Franklin Roosevelt: what was his net worth, and how many houses did he own when he became President? President Reagan? That newish Bush ranch? And let me just say — you could easily spend $400 on a haircut. Someone needs to ask Hillary what she spent on her most recent color job.
That Mitt Romney is a Mormon. Honestly, as an exiled Westerner, I kind of like him for this. Do you know that Mormonism is the only true American religion? As a queer, I’ve never seen polygamy as entirely bad — only abused as an institution. And why would Mitt Romney be a worse president than Mike Huckabee, who believes that the world will be devoured in fire and chaos, with the Devil walking the earth, and that only those who have taken Jesus Christ as their Saviour will survive and be taken to heaven to live with their loved ones?
Here are the things that do worry me.
That every Democratic candidate is solid on civil unions that convey equal rights for gay and lesbian people, as well as gay and lesbian adoption and child custody, but all candidates have tacitly accepted that marriage for queers is a political poison pill. Ok — I don’t believe in marriage as a way to convey equality. I don’t believe in marriage at all as an institution that is inherently good for anyone. But really — if civil unions and marriage would be the same in every way in a Democratic administration, why would we keep the two legal statuses separate (but equal)? This is the kind of thing that causes me to sympathize with gay men and lesbians with whom I otherwise have nothing in common: letting them get married undermines our society and economy — how?
That Barack Obama doesn’t think his lack of administrative experience/ability is an issue. Honey, that’s why they call it “Commander in Chief,” and the President’s quarters “the Executive Wing.” And no, you can’t just say you will hire the good people who will run the government for you, you will supply great ideas for change and it will be ok. Who are these people? Will we be electing them?
That Hillary Clinton says things like the Martin Luther King statement and doesn’t think it will come back to smack her in the fanny. The Clintons are too damn smart and too ready to demonstrate it: that caused people to hurt them before, and it will cause people to hurt them again. And of course Hillary was historically correct: what activist actually does move legislation? Did John Brown, Frederick Douglass, or Harriet Tubman end slavery? Did SDS bring the troops home from Vietnam? All you have to do is read Robert Caro’s terrific third volume on Lyndon Johnson (which only goes up to 1960) and you know what the woman was talking about. The Senate sat there for twenty years watching mass black protest in the South and violent white resistance to that protest and did almost nothing. It took a President who knew how to control the Senate to get voting rights and civil rights legislation passed. Hillary is talking about the moral authority of the presidency, but she is also talking about raw, statist power. And in politics nowadays we are supposed to talk about political power in user-friendly ways that mask and mystify its real nature.
That media outlets get to decide for the rest of us citizens who is a legitimate candidate and who is not. Lucky for democracy, the kickin’ Dennis Kucinich is taking this on by suing NBC over his exclusion from the televised Nevada debate. My question: what happened to the League of Women Voters, who used to sponsor these debates?
That Mike Huckabee reminds me a lot of Huey Long. Or Henry George. Watch him talk, why don’t you?
But can I say that I do just love politics? I really do.