Thursday, April 30, 2009

Ms. Lesley Gore Has Always Been My Favorite Governor of New Jersey

It’s Still My Party
by Ms. Christine Todd Whitman
An Op-Ed from the April 29, 2009 New York Times

. . . And I’ll cry if I want to. You’d cry too, if it happened to you!
Ms. Lesley Gore, 1963

As I approach that day when I stop pushing fifty and start pulling on it, I can’t help but notice I’m just an unhappy cross between Washington Irving’s Rip Van Winkle and Douglas Adams’s Arthur Dent: I wake up some days, convinced I missed some giant chunk of time, either from a really long nap or getting lost in one of the space-time-probability axises.

As they like to say in the HBO series The Wire: “Ya feel me?” 

Now THAT'S a lot of crying.
There was that time when even the White House had to acknowledge that Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction, or even programs for or plans of same. So, being the vindictive, petty, small-minded person that I am, I could not WAIT to see who was going to get the assignment to say “D’OH!” Well, not only am I STILL waiting, but I’ve been forced to listen to Karen Hughes, Condoleezza Rice, and Richard “You Don’t Know DICK!” Cheney all step up and DENOUNCE everyone who was saying the reason for the American invasion of Iraq was because of suspected WMD programs. Anyone who claimed such a thing was “re-writing history.” 

Wait a minute--was there a Kurt Vonnegut time quake or a Madeleine L’Engle wrinkle in time, and I just missed it? What was George W. Bush’s address to the United Nations and Colin Powell’s presentation to the Security Council about? Not to mention the endless series of statements FROM Richard “You Don’t Know DICK!” Cheney, Condoleezza Rice, and Karen Hughes in the run up to the invasion. Come on now! I don’t mind so much that YOU people have the three second memory that goldfish are supposed to have…but why are you assuming **I** am that clueless? As they say where I come from: I may have been born at night, but it wasn’t last night.

Ms. Lucille Ball, back when she was Queen
of the Bs. Even before she was Lucy, there
was a lot to love.
But we digress. In the days since Arlen Specter refocused his famed Wall of Opportunism from “Nominal Republican” to “Nominal Democrat,” I kept getting that feeling where I’ve either seen a miracle or been hit over the head with a rubber hammer. First, there’s Olympia Snowe (K. Hepburn impersonator—Me.) writing to New York Times readers, decrying the day the Bush White House lost China--I mean Jim Jeffords. She then invokes the name of GOP nagual don Ron, and calls for a GOP that where “our belief in restraining government spending, pro-growth policies, tax reduction, sound national defense, and maximum individual liberty” run supreme. As for everything else: we’ll just all agree to disagree. Thus Spake Snowethustra

Now, Lesley Gore…I mean Christine Todd Whitman dusts off a really dusty civics book, and says “The United States needs two vibrant, competitive parties. With the economic crisis, the war in Iraq and countless other issues facing the nation, the stakes are too high to simply let one ideological segment of the country determine our fate. And a Moron says ‘What?’” Okay, I made up that last part. Nevermind where Ms. Whitman has been, but where on earth does she think I have been for the last eight years?

Ms. Joan Blondell. Arguably not one of the
big beauty queens of the era, but she knew
how to work it.
When was the last time anyone in the GOP even PRETENDED to think two political parties was maybe a good idea, maybe? Talking pluralism AFTER you get your ass handed to you, that don’t count. Was I not supposed to notice (back in the day) all the GOP flacks trashing Ms. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s thesis about President Lincoln? Ms. Goodwin in “Team of Rivals” argues President Lincoln’s success was due, in no small part, to Lincoln’s insistence on including “rivals”--meaning political opponents--in his cabinet, especially during a time of civil war. On The Daily Show with John Stewart, John Bolton appeared, and hotly denied everything Ms. Goodwin argued. A furious Jon Stewart then telephoned Ms. Goodwin, demanding to know why she played The Daily Show.

When the Republicans held majorities in both houses of Congress, the presidency, and President George W. Bush became the third in the number of appointments to the federal judiciary (328, behind only Presidents Clinton’s 379 and Reagan’s 384), did anyone NOT get fired for even suggesting support for a two party system? When Monica Goodling, Harriet Myers, Kyle Sampson, and maybe Alberto Gonzales (he can’t remember) made America nostalgic for the high morals and impeccable ethics of John Mitchell’s Department of Justice, did anyone say “the stakes are too high to simply let one ideological segment of the country determine our fate (and a moron says ‘What?’)”? Maybe Patrick Leahy, but nobody cares what he says.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Bizarro Washington
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Economic CrisisFirst 100 Days

I mean, a member of the GOP says the war in Iraq merits OPEN and HONEST DEBATE between BOTH Parties? Here I thought I was facing hard time in hypocrite hell—but Ms. Whitman…! Dag, I’m back working on my papers, requesting a pardon. I got hope!

So--the Republican Party consists primarily of two-faced hypocrites and partisan incompetents with an agenda—plus Senators Snowe and Collins. Knock me over with a feather.
Ms. Eva Gabor. When your talents are roughly two sisters and an offbeat accent, you better be able to bring it. She could.

Nevertheless, there are two additional points I want to make (my first point, just in case you missed it, was “Republicans are jerks”). First, what with all the GOP calls for a return to their salad days of whatever it was that Republicans were supposed to be for, it might behoove someone in the Grand Old Party to take a peekie at just what issues the LAST Republican legislature focused on. Second, there has been a tremendous sea change in American politics, and I know both the Republican and Democratic Parties also know it, but both Parties are pretending not to notice. 

As to my first point--not to be Captain Alienation or anything, but maybe…just MAYBE… there’s a reason the GOP has lost 51 seats in the house and 13 in the senate in the 2006 and 2008 elections. I know I am a bitter, old crank, but there ARE good reasons why I am still complaining about Bill Frist’s Senate and the House under Denny Hastert. Remember all the good things the 109th Congress accomplished? Me neither. In a December 15, 2006 editorial in the Christian Science Monitor, Mr. Daniel Schorr stuck a fork in the GOP run legislature, calling it “the most unproductive session in recent history.” 

Ms. Rita Hayworth. The story is that
back in the day, Ms. Hayworth's
paramours would go to bed with "Gilda,"
only to wake up with "Rita"--and that
was supposed to bad. Yeah, cry me a
river, you bunch of a-holes.
By the numbers, the 109th Congress was in session for only 103 days, in contrast to 110 sessions days of the “do nothing” Congress that was bane of President Truman’s existence. Of eleven departmental appropriations, only two were passed. The rest were addressed by “stopgap” resolutions. No actions were taken on immigration reform, Social Security, or Medicare. Nor was there any progress on ethics reform. 

However, the 109th Congress DID engage in what Mr. Schorr called “spirited debates” over flag burning and gay marriage. The Republicans also managed to shutdown the entire government over what I would argue was the most inappropriate and bullshit issue of the decade: Terry Shiavo. Oh, and Congressman Mark Foley was forced to resign after years of sending inappropriate e-mails to adolescent pages. That was good. Unfortunately, the House Ethics Committee decided that while Congress had been negligent in protecting the pages, no rules were broken. That was bad.

Gee—I can’t figure out why the GOP got half their ass handed to them in November of that year.

Now, for anyone who’s thinking “Oh yeah? What about Harry Reid? Are you trying to tell me Harry Reid doesn’t suck?” I have two responses. First, if you think like that, then why the hell are you reading anything I (of all people) have to say? Don’t get me wrong—I’m flattered and all—but why are you reading childish leftwing name calling, when there is so much childish rightwing name calling to be had? But be that as it may, while I have to breath in a paper bag to keep from fainting while I type this: Harry Reid does not suck….well, suck like Bill Frist anyway (There. Now I feel much better).

Ms. Jinx Falkenburg. I have an mp3 of an
episode of the radio program "Duffy's
Tavern" where she is a guest, playing
herself. She is both very funny and
quite charming.
While no one not batshit or a paid hack on the Democratic National Committee (there may be some overlap between those two groups) would call the Congress under Senator Reid’s stewardship exactly “prolific,” there are important differences between the two Senates. First, while Senator Reid did run a Senate with a Democratic “majority,” that majority was a 51 to 49 split, with the one being Joe Leiberman. Who is Joe Leiberman? Let me tell you: one of the least anticipated books in memory is New York Times columnist Gail Collins’s “How Joe Lieberman Ruins Everything.” Okay—so technically, the book is “Ruined” (not “Ruins”) and is ostensively limited to Joe Lieberman’s role in the 2000 Florida election debacle; but you have to admit Joe Leiberman does, in fact, ruin everything. FOR EXAMPLE: prior to the 2008 elections (when the GOP got the other half of their ass handed to them), whenever anything vaguely connected to Iraq or the Department of Wildly Out of Control Boondoggles and Fatherla- WHOOPS! Homeland Security was at issue, Leiberman flipped to the Republicans, causing a 50-50 tie, which required Richard “You Don’t Know DICK!” Cheney to break. Hmmm. I wonder how Cheney’s going to vote? 

In a word, the Senate was hopelessly gridlocked, especially with an opposing Party in the White House.

Contrast that with Bill Frist’s Senate: with a comfortable majority in both houses, his own Party in the White House, the Republicans had such a clear run on legislation, that President Bush was in office for five years before he vetoed a bill, the Stem Cell Research Enhancement Act of 2005, on July 19 2006 (I have a giant rant on President Bush’s use of “signing statements,” but I will spare you. At least, for now. I’m going to need a ton of photos of 1940s hotties for THAT one…..).

My point is, if the GOP legislature under a GOP President still could not (or would not) perform their basic obligations—preferring instead to grandstand on flag burning and pimp on the tragedy of Terri Shiavo—then by any objective measure, it’s time for them to go.

Another shot of Ms. Blondell. When you
plan on going off on about Ms. Terry
Shiavo, you better bring out the big guns.
My final point (thank god there’s lots of nice pictures of Joan Blondell kicking around the internet) is the proverbial three hundred pound gorilla both Parties are pretending not to notice. As Ms. Whitman notes at the end of her teary tale, now is the time for all good moderates and conservative to come to the aide of the Party, preaching “fiscal restraint, less government interference in our everyday lives, environmental policies that promote a balanced approach between protection and economic interest, and a foreign policy that is engaged with the rest of the world.” I’m just going to let that one slide for now (see “hypocrite hell,” supra), and jump to Ms. Whitman’s implicit plea that if the few folks still willing to call themselves “Republicans” do not hang together, they will surely hang separately (something like that), because “third parties in the United States don’t have a particularly successful history.”

And Ms. Whitman is right, if she is talking about Ralph Nader, Ross Perot, George Wallace, and Pat Paulsen. But something weird happened in 2008. I can’t find the information right now, and if I am wrong, I’ll slam my hand inside a car door (or apologize to Christine Todd Whitman (my choice)). But if you looked at the various campaign finance reports, you could not help but notice that Mr. Barack Obama as an individual not only raised substantially more money than the GOP, he also raised a boatload more than the entire Democrat Party. Is that unusual? I believe so (see “slamming hand in car door,” supra).

Ms. Veronica Lake. The hell with Jessica
I would argue that while back in the day it was the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, we are seeing the dawning of a de facto third party: the Barack Obama Party. What is the Barack Obama Party? At this point, pretty much whatever President Obama wants: he’s got both the money and the street cred that the Democrats and Republicans can only dream of. 

What does it mean that the strongest and most influential political party in America is the Barack Obama Party? For the Democrats, that does not mean when President Obama says jump, they ask “How high?” It does mean they jump first, and THEN ask if that was high enough. And they’re okay with that, because by any objective measure (so far as we know), Barack Obama is a good man. But even if he wasn’t—it’s not like they’re in a position to do anything about it. 

And what does that mean for the Republicans? Well, I’d cry too, if it was happening to me.

1 comment:

Leslie Whitman said...

You don't own me, I'm not just one of your many toys. You don't own me. Don't say I can't go with other boys. And don't tell me what to do, and don't tell me what to say, and please, when I go out with you, don't put me on display.

‘Cause you don't own me. Don't try to change me in any way. You don't own me. Don't tie me down 'cause I'd never stay. Oh, I don't tell you what to say. I don't tell you what to do. So just let me be myself. That's all I ask of you.

I'm young and I love to be young. I'm free and I love to be free, to live my life the way I want, to say and do whatever I please. And don't tell me what to do, oh don't tell me what to say, and please, when I go out with you, don't put me on display.

I don't tell you what to say, oh don't tell you what to do, so just let me be myself. That's all I ask of you. I'm young and I love to be young. I'm free and I love to be free, to live my life the way I want, to say and do whatever I please.