Friday, June 27, 2008

Weakest rationale ever

The usually-thought-provoking Peggy Noonan has a piece up that baffles me a bit. Or maybe it's just the standard media love affair with their BFF McCain, who does a good enough job of schmoozing reporters that they're very reluctant to ask him tough questions. But in this particular mash note, Peggy seems to be swooning for what she sees as the "real" McCain, cut-up and jokester:

Mr. McCain had taken the lead in the primaries and had gone from being "one of the most disruptive forces in his party" to someone playing it safe. In an airplane interview he said things like, "There is a process in place that will formalize the methodology." Then he couldn't help it, he became McCain:

"[He] volunteered that Brooke Buchanan, his spokeswoman who was seated nearby and rolling her eyes, 'has a lot of her money hidden in the Cayman Islands' and that she earned it by 'dealing drugs.' Previously, Mr. McCain had identified Ms. Buchanan as 'Pat Buchanan's illegitimate daughter,' 'bipolar,' 'a drunk,' 'someone with a lot of boyfriends,' and 'just out of Betty Ford.'"

That's my boy. That's the McCain his friends love, McCain unplugged. The fall will be dead serious. At this point why not be himself, be human? Let him refind his inner rebel, the famous irreverent maverick, let the tiger out of the cage.
Sure. That's just what we need. A dose of towel-snapping frat-boy humor. Because, you know, we haven't had anything like that in a long time. And a President who cracks jokes with the press corps, well, so what if he doesn't answer inconvenient questions? He gave me a nickname!

Peggy's usually sharper than this. But this column shows why she's part of the problem.

Addendum: There is one thing Peggy gets spot-on:
The way it used to be is you ran and lost and either disappeared or pitched in. Mrs. Clinton continues making Mr. Obama look the dauphin to her embittered and domineering queen.

Hillary steps up

After all my snark about Her Hillaryness, fairness compels me to recognize that she's taking action, right from the start, and supporting the presumptive nominee.

Perhaps I misjudged the depth of her calculation. Perhaps she's doing it for the most cynical motives. I don't really care... She's doing the right thing.

Current rating

For some reason, though all I've been talking about is politics lately, this blog is currently rated:
OnePlusYou Quizzes and Widgets

Apparently I used the word "hurt"... Um, still need to work on the algorithm a little...

Double-Talk Express, part 27...

Word got out a couple of days ago that McCain had met (off the record, of course) with the Log Cabin Republicans... well not really met with them, just sort of stopped by while they were meeting.. no, met with them, but privately, not on his schedule, not so anyone would find out about it. So naturally, now he has to reassure the base that he really does hate teh gayz as much as they do and supports a federal amendment after all, even after saying he didn't, because he stands by his principles, and his principles tell him to do whatever the base wants!

"Straight Talk," my ass...

It never stops, does it?

And yet again still more agonizing over whether Obama has suffered enough for his sin of beating Her Hillaryness...

Obama hailed his former rival and her backers. "I recognize that this room shared the same passion that a roomful of my supporters would show. I do not expect that passion to be transferred. Senator Clinton is unique, and your relationships with her are unique." But he added: "Senator Clinton and I at our core agree deeply that this country needs to change."
Really, there are a few bits that are almost surreal...
He also sought to lead the move to unite by example, announcing that he had personally written a check for $2,300, the maximum he can give, to help retire Clinton's more than $20 million in campaign debt and that he had urged his biggest supporters to follow suit.
Well, that's great, and I suppose a relatively low-cost way of defusing the situation a bit, but really.... After Kerry beat Howard Dean in the primaries, Kerry didn't do much to help Dean retire his debt. Nor did he rush over to hire many Dean staffers. No one thought this was odd or rude or inconsiderate... Why should he have been expected to in the first place? BUT, as usual, the Clintons play by their own special rules.

At one point, an attendee told Obama that if he wanted to be seen as a true leader, he needed acknowledge that sexism had played a role in the demise of Clinton's campaign. Obama agreed and said that the issue should be addressed.
Did it play a role? Perhaps. It was definitely there. But did it ultimately make the difference? If not for sexism, would she have won? Not likely. Given the complete lack of planning for anything after Super Tuesday, the bad advice she ran with, the out of control spending... It was a botched campaign. And any male candidate who got teary-eyed the night before a big primary would NOT have received a boost from it... so it's not like Hillary wasn't ready to take advantage of sexism when it worked in her favor.

Obama and Clinton will travel to the town of Unity, N.H. -- which gave each candidate 107 votes in its January primary -- this morning for their first public appearance together.
Oh, how precious... >gag< >choke<
Some former Clinton advisers expressed irritation that Obama seems to believe that he can win the election without them or her supporters.
That's probably because he can. Sorry about reality being irritating and all, but this is politics, not group therapy.

The former president has told acquaintances that he is still upset by the tone of the campaign, particularly the way the media covered it.
Yes, that awful nasty media that kept playing his words over and over again, even when it wasn't convenient. Actually, an article I read yesterday may have been onto something: that Bill didn't successfully navigate the transition from presidential candidate (which he knew how to be) to presidential candidate's spouse, which he's never been before, and has much different expectations. I'm not entirely convinced, but there may be some of that in play.

"Everyone has checked their egos at the door."
A sentiment directly contradicted by several paragraphs directly above it.

My Continuing Political Education

I actually find myself agreeing with Charles Krauthammer, in broad outline if not in all the details. The last week or so has been educational, if painful, as Obama reversed his position on FISA and now agrees that the government should have vastly expanded wiretapping powers and telecom companies should be granted retroactive immunity (isn't amnesty a better term?) for illegally turning over private customer information without a warrant. After promising to filibuster any such proposal. And worse, Barack's statement explaining his new position starts right out with the rhetoric of fear, about how dangerous the world is and we should all be afraid. Greenwald's got all this documented; here's a good starting point.

I thought Obama was about change, not about more of the same be-very-afraid, we-have-to-take-away-freedom-to-protect-liberty rhetoric we've been hearing from the GOP for years.

I shouldn't have been surprised; not really. After all, he is, at the end of the day, a politician. One who came out of Chicago, where politics is a full-contact sport. And one who has to run to the center. But DAMMIT, in an election where 80% of the country thinks we're on the wrong track as a nation, giving the Republicans 90% of what they want is NOT necessary!

Is he still a better candidate than McCain? Yes. Am I going to vote for him? Probably. Am I going to contribute, to enthusiastically talk him up, to go the extra mile? Um, that's a bit more problematic.

There's an article up at Slate today about Obama's strategy to minimize evangelical opposition to him. It recognizes he probably can't get their votes, but he can reduce the likelihood they'll organize against him as a threat to the republic.

It works the other way, as well. He hasn't lost my vote, yet. But he's lost a lot of my respect, and some of my trust, and a lot of my enthusiasm. "Better than McCain" isn't much of a rallying cry.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Stereotypes for Yuks and Laffs

Sarah Bird has a supposedly-amusing piece up at Salon about how she's been coming to grips with the fact that her son's not gay:

I guess I've suspected the worst for a long time. Certainly the signs were there from a fairly young age: He invariably chose "Power Rangers" over joining me in marathon viewings of the work of Stephen Sondheim. He preferred to thickly carpet his bedroom floor with castoff clothing rather than use the color-coded, padded hangers I put in his closet. Worst of all, he evinced a disturbing interest in Grace's bare, bony chest rather than concentrating on absorbing Will's snappy -- yet ultimately supportive -- patter. If he didn't pay attention, who would I have to call me "girlfriend" in my old age? How would I keep tabs on Britney, Carrie Underwood and that creepy kid from "High School Musical" without my very own Rex Reed 2.0?
It goes on like that, for far too long.

In Bird's world, you see, gay men don't exist as men. Nor as independent beings, apparently. Rather, they're a Will-and-Grace stereotype (she says flat-out, that's the sort of gay man she wants her son to be): Someone who exists for the sole purpose of meeting the emotional needs of lonely middle-class women in a non-threatening way.
Before you write those ALL-CAP LETTERS WITH LOTS OF EXCLAMATION POINTS!!!!! informing me that you are a proud, stereotype-defying homosexual stevedore, soccer hooligan, whatever, that you are unabashedly clueless about fashion, décor and hygiene, let me just say, if that is you: Don't apply to be my gay son. I already own that model. No, please, submit a résumé only if you are an old-school homosexual with all the traditional old-school homosexual values and interests. Particularly if those interests include knowing how to add fullness to thinning, middle-aged hair.
And in fact, when a friend of hers calls her on her shit, she laughs it off:
Rudy is a brilliant, handsome (and single, he would like me to add) theater director here in Austin, and he is also one of the leading candidates to be my gay son. "You get to have the closeness that you imagine you would have from having a gay son without any of the, you know, finding your son's gay porn that he downloaded from the Internet. The joke is that you can get all the fashion and musical theater and closeness without homosexuality, and that joke is on me and mine. We have to deal with a lot of 'Can't you just, you know, help me pick out my clothes without, you know, kissing in front of me or hitting on my brother?'"

Excellent point. This is exactly the kind of sensitive, informed, insightful comment I'd expect from my gay son. Thank you, Rudy, I will be moving your application to the top of the pile tout de suite. As for what goes on in my grown child's bedroom? Not my business. Unless, however, it's to confer with me about whether frosty blue and chocolate brown is a color combination for the ages. Or if that expensive duvet and sham set I'm contemplating will be dated faster than you can say "teal" and "mauve."
She doesn't want a gay son. She wants a girlfriend. And OF COURSE, gay men are eminently suited to be girlfriends, and should be FLATTERED that she feels that way about them!

As the earlier quote makes clear, she really doesn't get it. She can't see beyond her world of straight privilege; rather, she assumes that being her girlfriend is such a privilege that any gay man--well, not any gay man, but the right kind of gay man--would be happy to serve that role. And wouldn't kiss in front of her or any of that icky stuff--the only time they'd talk about boyfriends, apparently, would be over mimosas while commiserating about what pigs men are.

Gay man as fashion accessory.

The pathetic thing is that she thinks this is all amusing. That demeaning and infantilizing gay men is something that, well, some of them are going to get hissy and send irate emails with LOTS OF CAPITALS AND EXCLAMATION POINTS about. (Aren't they cute when they stomp their little feet?) But nothing there's any real reason to be upset about. Their anger, their frustration, their feeling insulted and put down--well it's certainly not legitimate. But you know how those queens are, someone's always getting pissy about something. And shouldn't they be grateful that they're being allowed to participate in her world at all? The price is only following a stereotyped role, or be kicked out.

I suppose by posting this, I've burned any bridge I may ever have had into being any part of her smug, self-satisfied world.

I've never enjoyed a bonfire more.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Politics at the Justice Department? Say it isn't so!

In a report that surprises no one, the inspector general at the Department of Political Retribution Justice has found that politics played a part in selecting candidates for their honors and summer internship programs, with qualified candidates being ruled out because they had past connections with Democratic causes.

Why should anyone be shocked by this? The Bush II Regime has made it clear from the beginning that in their view, the "unitary executive" trumps everything, and that government and politics are inseparable, that the mechanics of government are rightfully put to use by the political party in power. Of course, that wasn't their position when Democrats were in charge. Like John Yoo criticizing Bill Clinton for making excessive claims of executive power, claims that "undermine notions of democratic accountability and respect for the rule of law," then giving Bush legal cover to shred the Constitution, because, of course, when a Republican does it, it's fine.

Counting the days until the thugs are out, scared of how much damage they can still do....