I’ve been distracted by a “dialogue” with my old friend Jim on the last post, and earlier by the loss of my brother, to spend much time and energy on the ongoing shenanigans, as the old folks would say, of the two main party presidential candidates still running.
Jim is a boyhood friend. When we were Catholic grammar school kids together, he impressed me with his love of history and reading, which I shared. He doesn’t remember if, but I do, in a snowball fight between two gangs of little Irish kids, as we called ourselves though technically we were Americans of Irish descent, he yelled “Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes” as the other gang attacked us.
I thought that was pretty cool for a little kid to even know, let alone take advantage of an opportunity to yell it out in “battle.”
He also was one of the first of us to master swearing. As I remember it, when we came back to third grade after summer vacation, he stunned the biggest and toughest boy in the class (an Italian, i.e. American of Italian descent, named Ritchie, who had beat me up so bad in a fight in second grade, on my way home an old lady came down from her porch and asked if I wanted her to take me to the doctor, which in those days is what we did instead of “emergency rooms” since the local doctor had his office in his house and was always available there unless he was away on a house call) into backing down.
I had been cursing since I was a kid, but hadn’t yet figured out how to turn it to my advantage, finding it more of a device that got me into trouble than out of it. So it was a lesson learned from Jim.
Later, in 8th grade, as I remember it, we had almost a weekly fist fight over a blonde classmate named Leslie who we both had an interest in, though I don’t remember who she finally picked, if either of us.
Jim may be the Republican I’ve known the longest, but. many later friends I’ve had, since becoming an adult, are staunch Republicans as well. As are some family members, much to my disappointment. Some of them, the family members, were influenced by the acquisition of enough money to lean toward anyone who will tax them the least as they acquire more (as my Irish grandfather used to say, if you have a dollar in your pocket, you’re a Democrat, but when you get two, you become a Republican, speaking back when a dollar was a day’s wages or more.
But most were convinced while in the service, by officers and NCOs spouting the rightwing propaganda, that only Republicans are the true patriots, even though most “liberal” politicians not only served their country in one of the branches of the Armed Forces, but many won medals for bravery, while most “conservative Republican” politicians avoided serving their country, wartime or not.
Most of my Republican friends aren’t very politically engaged. They either vote Republican because of the tax benefits for their accumulated wealth, or they were convinced by professors in business school that Republicans are the most economically realistic (i.e. big business friendly) or because their fathers were Republicans or because they are Jewish and identify with the Israelis who have suffered under suicide and mortar attacks from “Arabs” and feel the Republicans are more pro-Israeli, or at least pro-Israeli government policy, or are descendants of Holocaust survivors and just have an emotional reaction to anything that seems anti-Israel at all, even if it’s a reasonable discussion of what the Israeli government has done or is doing that might contribute to or even provoke the attacks, (much as I have generally had a similar reaction in the Irish vs. English conflict that lasted for centuries and impacted my ancestors so strongly), etc.
But most of them don’t really follow politics all that much, unlike Jim, they just vote Republican as a matter of course. They are though, for the most part, reasonable, in that they don’t spout rightwing propaganda, don’t use unreasonable language in dismissing Democrats who don’t agree with their choices, etc.
I am glad that the choice they have is McCain. Yes, he’s not an advocate of many policies I’d like to see enacted by the next administration, but he is, in my opinion, the best of the Republicans who ran for the nomination, because he will, I believe, not cause as much damage as any of them would have.
I also think he will continue to shoot himself in the foot, as he has lately by equating Al Queda, the Sunni terrorist organization, with Iran, their Shiite sworn enemies. He has a habit of speaking without thinking and it will provide many sound bites once the Democratic nominee is decided on and the race begins for president in earnest.
As for the Democrats. I have been a strong supporter of the Clintons ever since he began his bid for the presidential nomination. I saw right away that he was the unusual Democrat, for those times, who could play hardball with the Republicans, who had grown used to demolishing their opponents with dirty tricks and lies etc. and Clinton countered those attacks beautifully, for the most part.
I was happy to see him win and wasn’t disappointed, as during his presidency almost every statistic you can come up with improved—whether it was teenage birth rates or violent crime or the size of government, and so on, diminishing, or the surplus growing and jobs increasing or peace prevailing.
There were attempts by Al Queda to attack this country during his administration (the first World Trade Center bombing for one) as well as successful attacks outside the country, but the Clinton administration countered those attacks so well, nothing like 9/11 happened on their watch.
And there were devastating hurricanes and other natural disasters, which FEMA, under the competent professionals the Clinton administration put in charge, handled better than FEMA ever had before, according even to many of his Republican critics (and obviously better than FEMA would do under Bush Junior, who hired only cronies and big business favorites rather than professionals and thereby screwed up almost every challenge his administration was faced with, Katrina being only one of the most obvious).
The years of the Clinton presidency was one of the most successful periods of peace and prosperity in our nation’s history. And no matter what articles or books Jim and other rightwing Republicans may refer to when they read this post, the facts are all available from government statistics and from the common sense of our common experience of those times.
Yes, he fooled around on his wife, with or without her knowledge. But as far as I was concerned, that was his business. Was it foolish? Did it lead to his lying about it? Yes and yes. Was it a “high crime” demanding impeachment? Not in my opinion. What Nixon did deserved impeachment, not a pardon. He attempted to circumvent and undermine and even do damage to the constitution and the rule of law this country is based on. As have Bush Junior and Cheney. They deserve impeachment for undermining the constitution and ignoring the laws of the land in order to make their cohorts and themselves even wealthier than they already are, and to seize and hold on to power.
And I found it hypocritical that rightwing Christian fundamentalists who are always touting marriage and “family values” would attack Hilary for keeping her marriage and family together, despite her husband’s philandering.
I also always found Hilary to be extremely bright and intellectually articulate and disciplined. An impressive mind, and I appreciated her focus on issues that impact families and children (again making the right-wingers hypocrites for attacking her rather than commending her for her work in these areas).
But, the tactics her campaign has been using against Obama, as well as just the plain presence in her campaign, let alone at the top, of Mark Penn, a guy who comes off as sleazy even if he wasn’t a lobbyist for corporate interests Hilary should be fighting, have turned me off to the point of agreeing with Obama supporters that the Clintons’ time has passed, as far as the presidency goes.
Obama’s speech on “race” was such a watershed event—though I thought he delivered it a little dispassionately, deliberately I suspect, to contrast his reasonable stance with those of his opponents as well as Reverend Wright—it demonstrated for me exactly the kind of change he says he wants to bring to our country, an adult, fair-minded, human, logical, reasonable, calm, and smart approach to deep seated problems.
I believe the man could be a great president—if a majority of the electorate can be reached before the negative Clinton campaigning and the rightwing internet smear and big lie campaigning doesn’t damage him too much before that happens.
And I find the prospect of his being the person we see on TV most days dealing with the major issues the country confronts, as well as those people he might choose to be a part of his administration, a much more interesting outcome than the other two possibilities.