ME: There was an audible collective sigh of relief from above the border after November 4th – all my Canadian friends knew that I would not be packing my bags, moving north in quest of refuge, complaining about the mediocre opera and theater and the size of mixed drinks, ignoring hockey, marrying some poor sacrificial person to gain citizen status.
Perhaps we should be careful what we tell our Canadian friends about American politics. They might begin to think they’re missing something. The only flashy Canadian politician was Pierre Trudeau, and none of the Canadians liked him. (I did, but am not Canadian, and spent his administration hating Nixon and Reagan.) But a dear Canadian friend, a very brainy lady, wrote me after the elections, and I attempted to clear things up:
SHE: I was just this side of distraught thinking that McCain and that female might get into office. If Obama hadn't won, we might as well have packed our bags and headed for the farm. Give up on civilization. Pack it in. Go home. Whatever. We could forgive the American people for electing Bush the first time. Everyone makes mistakes. But when they elected Bush the second time... I lost faith. If they were stupid enough to do that, they were capable of electing McCain and associated bimbo. Thank GODS he won. Whatever Obama does or does not do, he'll make better choices than those two. I watched Obama the night he won the election. Almost brought tears to my eyes. I'd like to think there is something to be hopeful about here.
Why did they dig up that Palin thing? How did she end up behind a podium? OH DISGRACE! OH WOMEN HANG YOUR HEADS! Please tell me there are better Republican women around. Condaleeza Rice was nothing to be ashamed of. At least she could be trusted in civilized company and has a passport. Why didn't the Republicans make her their vice-prezzy candidate? I am gravely ignorant about US politics, so there is probably something I am missing here, and I only get whatever snipets show up in the local news. Still, surely the Republicans could have found someone better than that stray cat Palin. EXPLAIN! How could Palin have been allowed to happen?
I like Hillary. Did Obama make her his Secretary of State?
ME: What a splendid distraction from having a wretched cold all week, and the ghastly sci-fi novel I am proofreading.
“I was just this side of distraught thinking that McCain and that female might get into office.”
Me too. I kept thinking, “The Republicans got us into this mess; maybe they deserve it. Like 1929. It could guarantee the Dems the government for the following 20 years again. But no, another Rep admin was too awful to contemplate.”
You have NO IDEA (no Canadian who has never been American does) how constantly and overtly and relentlessly the Bush boys have done their best to destroy the best things in our Constitution. They really hate democracy, and ours above all – and then they accused anyone who objected to their actions of lacking patriotism. Scum below the slimiest lizard. Gerald Ford was the last honest or honorable Republican. And he’s dead.
“If Obama hadn't won, we might as well have packed our bags and headed for the farm. Give up on civilization. Pack it in. Go home. Whatever. We could forgive the American people for electing Bush the first time.”
But we DIDN’T. Gore won by a million votes. They miscounted Florida and then the Supreme Court (stuffed with Republicans) voted Bush in.
“Everyone makes mistakes. But when they elected Bush the second time... I lost faith.”
That was illusion, too. True, Kerry ran a godawful campaign, but even then it was so close that one state – Ohio – would have tipped it. But Ohio had a Republican state gov’t, and had just installed new electronic no-paper-trail voting machines. This method was also used by Louis-Philippe when he was king of France – he sent the voting totals to be recorded to all the regional prefects BEFORE the elections, to save time you know. (1845 – life was rush, rush, rush!)
“If they were stupid enough to do that, they were capable of electing McCain and associated bimbo. Thank GODS he won. Whatever Obama does or does not do, he'll make better choices than those two. I watched Obama the night he won the election. Almost brought tears to my eyes. I'd like to think there is something to be hopeful about here.”
My friend Nancy in Chicago, who was raised white in Alabama, was in Grant Park for the speech, openly blubbering and hugging strangers. She calls it one of the greatest nights of her life. I hope Mr. O can live up to it. (I did notice, with pleasure, he mentioned “straight or gay” in his speech - not making a thing of it, just casually including us in the family, as we deserve.) I’m already disappointed that he’s kept on terms with Senator Lieberschmuck.
“Why did they dig up that Palin thing? How did she end up behind a podium? “
Now, Tina Fey I’d have voted for. (And I’d never heard of her before September.)
“OH DISGRACE! OH WOMEN HANG YOUR HEADS! Please tell me there are better Republican women around. Condaleeza Rice was nothing to be ashamed of. At least she could be trusted in civilized company and has a passport. Why didn't the Republicans make her their vice-prezzy candidate?”
Because the only people who despise Bush near as much as the Democrats and the foreigners are the Republicans – to have been associated with him and his policies was seen as utterly toxic. That won’t last, unfortunately. We’re rid of Bush and (maybe) Cheney (who was far, far, far worse, a genuinely evil man), but the other names will come to have a reassuring sound, just because they are familiar.
“I am gravely ignorant about US politics, so there is probably something I am missing here, and I only get whatever snippets show up in the local news. Still, surely the Republicans could have found someone better than that stray cat Palin. EXPLAIN! How could Palin have been allowed to happen?”
Palin was the best thing a party with eight ghastly years behind it can find: a totally new, unknown face. (AND they hoped she would appeal to disaffected Hillary-ite feminazis – which she emphatically did not.) That she was plug-ignorant appealed to the core red state audience. It was a while before her gaffes began to show her up (fortunately, you can’t say anything in private any more, if you’re at all notorious – the pope has learned that the hard way), and it was a while (and I was freaking out) before one of my brainier political friends said, “How brilliant of John McCain – to choose as a running-mate someone who appeals only to people who already would only have voted for John McCain.” In the end, Palin alienated a lot of brainy, centrist Republicans (like Colin Powell) without picking up many votes. But Biden didn’t pick up many votes for Obama either. (He talks too much, as I often point out to him.)
A US presidential candidate chooses his running mate for one of two major reasons: to win enough votes to put him over the top by appealing to people who might not otherwise go for him, or to choose a competent successor in case things go wrong. In the former case, terrible mistakes can happen (e.g. plug ignorant Andrew Johnson succeeding Lincoln at a very delicate moment, but in contrast LBJ succeeding JFK), but the latter is not foolproof. FDR chose Truman, a little-known Missouri senator, in his fourth run because the party leaders refused to support him with a radical, Henry Wallace, in line for the presidency – everyone (but the public) knew FDR was a dying man. Truman made a fine president, to everyone’s surprise. McKinley chose uncontrollable Teddy Roosevelt largely to keep him from getting into MORE trouble as Sec’y of the Navy. I have no idea why TR accepted the thankless job of VP, but, great day in the morning, McKinley was shot. With a pistol not an elephant gun – if the latter, TR would have been a prime suspect. JFK chose LBJ because (a) he would guarantee Texas, which JFK needed (had he not got it, Nixon would have won), and (b) LBJ had long ruled the Senate with an iron hand. As VP, notoriously, LBJ had nothing at all to do, and was bored (and JFK wanted to drop him); as president, he could get Congress to do anything (as JFK never could). So we got the Voting Rights Act and the war on poverty and lots of other great liberal legislation people now wrongly ascribe to JFK – but we also got the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. (Oh, and LBJ also appointed the first black Supreme Court justice, the GREAT Thurgood Marshall. JFK would never have done that.)
- and now that I’ve bored your ear off …
(As you should know: Be careful asking me questions with historical or cultural context; I might answer them.)
“I like Hillary. Did Obama make her his Secretary of State?”
Such is the scuttlebutt. It used to be traditional to offer the job to the leading opponent for the nomination (e.g. Lincoln, Wilson, etc.), but that is no longer done, and the job has lost a great deal of prestige since the Nixon-Kissinger age. We could use a president who was at least INTERESTED in foreign policy (we haven’t had one since Nixon), and at least Obama is not unaware that other countries exist.
But I’m not sure she is capable of serving Obama’s interests first – perhaps she can – she’s shown in the Senate that she can change to fit circumstances. My problem with appointing her, brainy as she is, and adept at soothing former enemies, is that it opens up her Senate seat in New York to an interim appointment (by the governor) and there is no obvious choice to fill it. (The Voice said, “What they need is a Hispanic Democratic congresswoman from upstate New York – unfortunately, there are no Hispanic congresswomen from upstate.”) That means whoever gets it will not have made a secure impression by 2010, when there will be a special election (for the last two years of Hillary’s present term), and I am TERRIFIED Giuliani will give it everything he’s got. One thing he’s got is money, and sources for more. I loathe that man, but outside Manhattan, he’s still “America’s Mayor.” I know a queen in Brooklyn who wanted to vote for him this year.
The tragic figure in all this year is really John McCain. He was once an honorable (if hardly brilliant) moderate Republican, but he saw where that got him in 2000 – Bush’s machine creamed him with slanders and assaults in the South Carolina primary. So he gave up being “independent” and largely toed the Bush line in all things – in 2004, at the Convention, he said that on 9/11, he “thanked God Bush was in the White House.” Once you’ve decided to eat shit, I don’t suppose the spices matter. The Bush platform – speak FAR RIGHT and act economically irresponsible and govern FASCIST – was artificial. The fundie Right (which can never get a true believer in – they would alienate far too much of the center) had no one in the race but Mike Huckabee, and the center would never have accepted him. They liked McCain’s war record, but they never quite trusted him – he’s been rational on many social issues, a leader on campaign reform. So he felt he had to kowtow to them, say all their disgusting crap, figuring his old friends in the Center would know he didn’t mean it, and he also figured he had to choose a total rightwing nutjob as his running mate. (After all, if she became president, HE wouldn’t have to worry about it. He’d be dead.) This happens when you’re THAT close to power – it happened to Hubert Humphrey, for example. They lose their heads, they forget what values they ever held dear. I’m afraid it’s happened to Hillary, too – that’s why I voted for her dubiously in the primaries. I no longer feel I know what Hillary believes in – what she would fight for. I knew in 1992 (when I voted for her and Bill), but I don’t know now. She’s made too many deals just to acquire power.
Did you know Kerry nearly took on McCain as running mate in 2004? I wish he had. It might have swayed some votes, and left Edwards (a moderate Democrat) in the Senate, a seat that went perforce to a Republican. (Edwards turned out to be a dope, but his wife is FABULOUS. We all adore her.) McCain, for that matter, wanted to take Lieberschmuck as his running mate this year but the far right nabobs nixed him. I’m so relieved – aside from loathing the schmuck, such a ticket (catnip for Jews other than myself and my family) might well have put him over. And what choice DID the rightwing nutjobs have, when you come down to it? There’s no Nader on the Right (alas).
I wouldn’t object to McCain as president but I would be hysterical and in shock at the thought of every single person around him, actually running things – they’d be the same folks as surrounded Bush. McCain isn’t bright enough or strong enough to control them. So McCain was absolutely out.
HER SECOND LETTER, responding to above, FOLLOWS:
SHE: You know, I thought I might be getting paranoid, but I’ve felt all along that the Bush boys must be out to ruin the constitution, and, well, civilization as we know it. I thought the constitution was something Americans could justifiably be proud of. And yet, if one opposes them, as you said, one is accused of being unpatriotic. The kind of country they want, and the kind of citizen they idealize, is really terrifying.
Thanks for clarifying about Gore. I knew there was a recount and suspicious circumstances, but I didn't realize that the margin was so wide (a million votes!). I thought it was only a few thousand. Are those electronic voting machines still legal?
One of the things that confused me most about Palin was that it seemed obvious that she would alienate anyone one with any brains, including Republicans. Surely there must be some smart Republicans, Republicans who would function a hell of allot better than Bush and his gang. Or are Bush and his gang IT? Surely there must be Republicans that are somewhat educated and worldly? I get shivers whenever I think about Bush and foreign relations. (Do you really know Joe Biden?).
I just loved your abbreviated history of some presidencies. In the past I have puzzled over why JFK picked LBJ. Did you know that LBJ reputedly peed in front of Trudeau (one of our former and better prime ministers)? They did not get along very well. Trudeau called him a barbarian. They did not agree on Cuba. Castro was a friend of Trudeau’s. Your observations on Hillary are interesting. I would be terrified of Giuliani too. What is with him? What do you dislike about him? So he really does have a better image outside New York than in…
I found myself deeply disappointed by McCain too. I had read about him long before the recent spotlight that made him a household name in Canada. I expected more, or better. So he just sold out. That’s it. Up here, he just appears to be another Bush boy. Sad.
I really enjoyed your political low down. I've sent it to everyone I know and even posted sections of it on the cork board here at work. I think you missed your calling ... political commentator. People keep asking, "This is a friend of yours?" Our politics in Canada is so boring we mostly just ignore it.
I have been thinking about writing a book. I even have a title, Insolences, and yes, the plural is on purpose. It’s about a Mennonite girl who gets excommunicated. You know, stuck on a bus with 50 dollars and shipped to the city and a Pentecostal foster family (brrrrrr). Must have been a really BAD girl.
You know, I thought I might be getting paranoid, but I’ve felt all along that the Bush boys must be out to ruin the constitution, and, well, civilization as we know it. I thought the constitution was something Americans could justifiably be proud of. And yet, if one opposes them, as you said, one is accused of being unpatriotic. The kind of country they want, and the kind of citizen they idealize, is really terrifying.
ME: They reached power and held on to it by appealing, aggressively, to the worst instincts of the stupidest Americans. At times I have felt, maybe some limit on the electorate would be a good idea. (Like E.A. Poe, who wrote it should be limited to aristocrats like him – which is a laugh, as he was nothing of the kind, and poor to boot.)
I see it as starting with the twenty years the Dems had a lock on the White House after the Depression, and then they won the war on top of it. The Republicans were desperate – how could they return to power? Having a principal general for a candidate helped, but Ike was not an ideologue of the right – he knew the military so well he distrusted it. (He also would have preferred to sidestep Civil Rights, but that was the attitude of nearly all white politicians then – Humphrey got his start in ’48 by being the first white man who stood up for black equality and wouldn’t shut up about it – a fact the black electorate never forgot.)
But what the ideological Republicans decided was to blame the Dems for every foreign policy debacle after the end of the war. That included the sacrifice of Eastern Europe to Stalin (which went over well with Polish, Hungarian, et al. voters) and, later, the “loss” of China. The sacrifice of Eastern Europe was indeed sad, and they’re still angry at Roosevelt and Churchill and Truman for selling them down the river – which they did – but it was very much a case of: what choice did we have? Roosevelt, having seen the collapse of the League of Nations (he had been in Wilson’s administration, and was candidate for VP in 1920), was desperate to get Stalin to agree to join the U.N. He sacrificed a lot over that, such as letting Ukraine and Belarus in as if they were separate nations, and he gave the Russians one-third of Germany and one-fourth of Austria (they were astonished). But the alternative would have been continuing the war – with nukes – against Russia, and for one thing, that still wouldn’t have ended it, and for another, the Americans and Brits had NO will to keep fighting – they just wanted it all OVER. And FDR was a dying man, and Truman a hopeful one. (And Churchill was losing India and he knew it.)
So the Poles and Czechs and Romanians suffered that we might prosper, yes, and we owe them, but – that was a long time ago. (I’ve met East Europeans in New York – though they’ve lived here all their lives and did not suffer under the Soviets – who think we picked the wrong side in World War II, should have joined Hitler against Stalin. There were plenty of people in the U.S., Canada, U.K. and France – rich fascists, anti-Semites – who thought so at the time, too. But what promise to an ally did Hitler ever keep?)
Anyway, FDR got his UN, with Stalin in it, and that was what he cared about, for a world bequest. Who knows if any of us would be here if he hadn't?
China fell because we backed the small, corrupt, fascist horse of Chiang Kai-shek, and the communists, not yet visibly corrupt, had the peasants and the idealistic intelligentsia (who lived to regret their choice) and Soviet support. But the Republicans in D.C. accused the Democrats of having their ranks full of Communist spies, and did find half a dozen of them, and electrocuted two. Even Ike was afraid of McCarthy, and Nixon of course hitched his wagon to McCarthy’s star. It was an ugly time, very few fearless folk in Washington. (The cartoonist Herblock was one.) So when Vietnam came along (originally from Ike), everyone was scared to admit it was a no-win situation, though (we know from private papers since published) everyone knew it. LBJ feared that if he pulled out and let it go, the Republicans would destroy his New Deal programs, such as the Voting Rights Act, and he figured the Dems would stick by him for that. He was wrong – it was no longer the get-along ‘50s, it was the sing-and-demonstrate-until-they-listen ‘60s, and he was destroyed by it, and his reputation has never recovered. Nixon got in, and (like all Republicans) blamed everything wrong on the Democrats, but he couldn’t figure out how to end Vietnam except by expanding it (thereby causing Pol Pot in Cambodia), and the riots got worse, and (everyone forgets) our army in Vietnam was on the brink of mutiny – officers were “fragged” by mysterious grenades tossed in their tents if they were too eager to attack the enemy. And even the Republicans in Congress turned against the president, and then Watergate hit, and we had to “cut and run” (a very successful policy, I think).
Rightwingers today infuriate me by saying, “The people who demonstrated ignore the boat people, the sufferings of the South Vietnamese.” No we don’t, but there wasn’t a goddam thing the U.S. could have done about those sufferings. THEY forget the two or three million innocent North Vietnamese murdered by our heroic bombers (like McCain), who were suddenly very depressed when the Viets finally got decent anti-aircraft weapons and could fight back. Was that a fair fight? But they licked us. We could pardon anything but that.
Anyway, the lesson the Right learned from Nixon is: Never nominate an obvious s.o.b. It’s too easy for the public to begin to doubt him. No one ever liked Nixon (except Alice Roosevelt). When the truth came out, no one was very surprised. After that, the Republicans nominated only “good guys” like Reagan and Bush to be their figureheads, guys you’d enjoy a beer with, guys who were cheerful in front of the public. Television had conquered the electoral process. Neither party has dared nominate a bald candidate since Adlai Stevenson -- a great man on foreign policy, my parents’ hero, who couldn’t have beat Ike anyway – but JFK SHOULD have made him Secretary of State – he didn’t because he didn’t like or trust someone brighter than he was – so he gave State to Dean Rusk, a diehard cold warrior, who refused to abandon Vietnam and created the blockade-Cuba policy – and LBJ was afraid to fire him.
The Bomb made Americans (also Russians) permanently insecure. If politicians tell the voters they're pissing away zillions of dollars on helicopters the size of P.E.I. that don’t function in tests, the voters keep them in, and the zillions go to companies with factories in their state. If politicians tell the voters they’re giving a lousy million to keep people from starving in Bangladesh or keep babies from getting HIV in Mali, the voters accuse them of waste and toss them out. Insecurity became the natural American fallback position, once WW2 had demonstrated that our moat was dry, we were NOT immune to attack from across the seas, as we had been for 200 years. And of course 9/11 revived all that in spades. Precisely one congresswoman (note gender) voted against the Patriot Act – Barbara Lee from Berkeley, Ca (surprise, surprise). I wrote MY congressman to say, “If your predecessor were still alive, that vote would have been double.” Of course, his problem was that Ground Zero was in his district – he had to be seen to be doing SOMETHING.
"Thanks for clarifying about Gore. I knew there was a recount and suspicious circumstances, but I didn't realize that the margin was so wide (a million votes!). I thought it was only a few thousand. Are those electronic voting machines still legal?"
ME: It was a million, but we have this cockamamie electoral college, so it came down to 600 votes in Florida, the state that would have swung it to Gore. And that had nothing to do with electronic votes, but a lot to do with preventing blacks from voting if they possibly could.
Gore could have won with his home state, Tennessee, too. But he never campaigned there, and lost it. I met a guy from Memphis a couple of years later and asked him why (he was a dork, but I wanted an inside view). He said, “Gore WASN’T from Tennessee – he was D.C. royalty, brought up THERE. He wasn’t one of US.” (This is true – Gore’s father was for 30 years a powerful senator.) Gore, of course, has the bonhomie of a dead haddock, but I think if he and Tipper and the kids had spent a few weekends strolling the woods of Tennessee with rifles under their arms (they wouldn’t have had to SHOOT anything), they might have taken the state and Florida wouldn’t have mattered. Bill (not Hill) Clinton has bonhomie out the wazoo, and so does W (alas). Obama might, but he spent a lot of his life making himself the quintessential eager-beaver Harvard law scholar. Those who have met him in such context say he’s a terrific guy, but that doesn’t always play on the street. Clinton was the Rhodes scholar who could keep up with any mind, however brilliant, but also seem a regular guy to everyone on Main Street. It’s a gift, and with TV, they need it alas.
"One of the things that confused me most about Palin was that it seemed obvious that she would alienate anyone one with any brains, including Republicans. Surely there must be some smart Republicans, Republicans who would function a hell of allot better than Bush and his gang. Or are Bush and his gang IT? Surely there must be Republicans that are somewhat educated and worldly? I get shivers whenever I think about Bush and foreign relations."
ME: One thing the D.C. polarization has steadily done is to drive out centrists. Centrist Democrats were folks like Gore’s father, or the old segregationist and cold war guys (Scoop Jackson from Washington, who was all-weapons-all-the-time), but the moderate Republicans have also been told over the years since Reagan that the party has no use for them. Senator Chaffee of RI (after he got tossed out in 2006) told the story that in 2001, Cheney sat down with him and the girls from Maine and Jeffords from Vermont and Sununu from NH and Specter from Pennsy, and said, “This is how we’re going to play it, and you guys are going to toe the line, I don’t want any independent whining out of you.” I wanted to scream at him, “Why did you TAKE that? You’re a U.S. Senator! That used to MEAN something! That meant you had power THEY needed. What could he threaten you with?” Well, it takes so much money to stay in Congress these days, and so much White House pull to get committee chairmanships or whatever, that - they all gave in, despite misgivings (and only Chaffee admitted to those, and only after RI had dumped him) and voted as Cheney wanted. It is NOT what the Founders intended when they gave the Senate so much power, and I am horrified and disgusted. Oh, by the way, Jeffords of Vermont was the only one who said, Screw you. He quit the Republican Party, and as they had a majority of one, that gave the Senate to the Democrats for a year and a half. (He was about to retire anyway; the Vermonters loved him, but his daughter and son-in-law stopped speaking to him.) The Dems let him have his way on the issues he cared about, mostly education. But they didn’t stand up to Bush nearly enough – 9/11 and more Cheney terrorism of the electorate put a stop to that.
Fascism thrives on fear. If they don't fear YOU, you have to convince them to fear something else, and that you will save them from IT. That's the Rove/Cheney fulcrum. They had no other principle.
There was a lot of debate among the Republicans when Specter was up for chair of the judiciary committee – everyone thought him too moderate for the Bush line (which he is), but he ate lots of crow and insisted on respect, and he got it – not that he blocked much that Cheney wanted to do. Biden then took that committee. I don’t know who gets it now. I HOPE this means some decent libertarians on the Supreme Court. I expect Stevens (a happy liberal, appointed by Ford, the last honest Republican) will soon retire – he refused to do so while W was president.
"I just loved your abbreviated history of some presidencies. In the past I have puzzled over why JFK picked LBJ. Did you know that LBJ reputedly peed in front of Trudeau (one of our former and better prime ministers)? They did not get along very well. Trudeau called him a barbarian. They did not agree on Cuba. Castro was a friend of Trudeau’s."
ME: I used to ask Canadians why they hated Trudeau; he seemed such a cool guy to me. The truth is, Canadians do not LIKE flash politicians. He’s the only one who’s ever been P.M. Politics, to Canadians (that Scottish Presbyterian thing!), are not supposed to be in the front of anything up there. I daresay the inpouring of so many livelier minorities will fix that. I am waiting for a Canadian p.m. with an Italian or Chinese or Portuguese name. You will live to see it, my dear.
Trudeau did not get along with any U.S. presidents (he might have with Clinton; two of a kind). He behaved as if Canada was an independent country, and U.S. presidents dislike that sort of thinking.
The Cuban blockade (like the Vietnam blockade) was typically American poor-losership. (How dare the Germans bring their own Wall down without us telling them they could!) Its principal effect has been to keep Castro in power and underline his self-righteousness. The sufferers have been Cubans, with whom I am in total sympathy. But once huge numbers of Cuban émigrés had become citizens, they became a FIERCE right-wing block in Florida, and any politician who dared suggest moderating the blockade drew their venom. So the Republicans used it to lock up Florida, and the Democrats thought, “Oh well, it’s only Cuba, why stand up for principle if it loses us votes?” What will become of the average Cuban if the émigrés (who just want their wealth back, and their peons – which they won’t get, Castro having made all Cubans literate and given them a sense of self-worth) are in charge of negotiating the end of communism there is painful to think of. I am VERY EAGER to see the Art Deco streets of Havana before Donald Trump tears them all down for high-rise monstrosity (not unlike Vancouver, I imagine).
Cuban history (since 1898) has been, even more than Mexico’s, a catastrophe of “so far from God, so close to the United States.”
"Your observations on Hillary are interesting. I would be terrified of Giuliani too. What is with him? What do you dislike about him? So he really does have a better image outside New York than in…"
ME: He’s a two-bit Mussolini. On September 10, 2001, he was the most detested man in New York. Then he reinvented himself – almost enough to secure re-election despite the law HE wrote and shoved through that city pols could not have third terms. He was FULL of his own self-importance. He never walked down the street without an ENTOURAGE. (In contrast, Bloomfield runs around with one or two aides; Koch used to go it alone, standing at subway exits, demanding “How’m I doin’?” of passersby.) He outlawed citizen visits to City Hall (I used to show friends around when touring the city), or even gathering on the steps – there were too many demos against him. Now you have to have an appointment, and go through a metal detector. He refused to meet with any black city politicians, even elected ones, FOR TWO YEARS after he was elected, until his beloved police’s arms were bathed to the elbow in the blood of several unarmed and innocent black men who had been shot down in cold blood. He had black teenagers carded for i.d. when suspiciously a block or two away from school. He spent $23 million of our money to build himself a crisis center to hide out if the city were attacked – and did he put it in City Hall? (A lovely old building, but one no one outside the city knows about.) No, he put it in the World Trade Center, though it had already been attacked once. And when the city Code pointed out he couldn’t put it where he wanted to, in WTC no. 7, because it would undermine the building, he violated the code and did it anyway. Result: on 9/11, it was totally useless, and no. 7, which had not been attacked, caved in as a result of the undermining. Then he had the secret service harass his poor wife and put protections around his girlfriend – at city expense. At opening night of the opera in 2000, when he was introduced to say a few words about his love of opera, the audience booed.
He’s a fascist, tout-court. He thinks it’s all about him, and if it’s not, it should be outlawed. He also thought no one but him should be having sex – he put undercover cops in all the places where gay men fool around in the bushes or smoke dope, and though he knew no court case would stand up, the cops were ordered to pick up anyone necking or smoking, drive them around in the back of a squad truck for a night or so, then kick them out with insults in some other part of town. It was enough to shake them up.
This might play in a small town, but in NEW YORK????
When international gays ask me why New York, famously the world epicenter of gay life in the 70s and 80s, the site of Stonewall after all, is now pretty dead for gay high life, I say, “We were afflicted with a terrible plague: Giuliani. Don't let it spread. Take prophylactic measures.” Yet lots of gays voted for him, twice, in love, I suppose, with uniforms and rising property values. Idiots.
"I found myself deeply disappointed by McCain too. I had read about him long before the recent spotlight that made him a household name in Canada. I expected more, or better. So he just sold out. That’s it. Up here, he just appears to be another Bush boy. Sad."
ME: No, he wasn’t a Bush boy. But if he had made a point of that, he’d never have been nominated – the Republican Party no longer has a place for real mavericks. Of course, he’s not too bright, either, as those who compare him to Obama point out.
"I really enjoyed your political low down. I've sent it to everyone I know and even posted sections of it on the cork board here at work. I think you missed your calling ... political commentator. People keep asking, "This is a friend of yours?" Our politics in Canada is so boring we mostly just ignore it."
ME: As I wrote above: your politicos are never flashy, except Pierre le grand. And people up there loathed him. I was on a train across Canada once with Trudeau (okay: he was in another car) in ’82 – he was bringing his sons home from camp. And at every crossing, the loyal peasantry were waiting – with rotten vegetables. I was in the Bubble car, and each time we got tomatoes et al. smashed on the windows, the Canadians within were in gales of laughter. “But why do you dislike him?” I asked. “He seems so bright – so in touch with the world.” They said, “Oh, but he’s so … arrogant. He made a finger at a reporter….” That was about the size of his crimes, so far as I could tell.
But arrogance does not play in Canada.
"I have been thinking about writing a book. I even have a title, Insolences, and yes, the plural is on purpose. It’s about a Mennonite girl who gets excommunicated. You know, stuck on a bus with 50 dollars and shipped to the city and a Pentecostal foster family (brrrrrr). Must have been a really BAD girl."
ME: Yeah. I’ve heard that you, a mere girl, actually SPOKE in high school and in Sunday school, saying dirty words like "Why?" I’m sure they washed your mouth out with soap.
Love to B. and all my Vancouver friends!
Honoring an Ancestor - So today, on Samhain, I’ve been reminded of my longstanding sense of connection to Ann Putnam the younger, the second-youngest of the “afflicted girls” of ...
2 years ago