Hello, Wisconsin! Nice to know you’re not above falling in line with “the wave” of coolness. Nice to know that, chubby and Germanic and working-class though you are, you, like your coastal brethren, can still fall prey to the latest trends.

Another busy week, coupled with some nastiness at work reminiscent of, say, having a root canal done by a dentist who failed to clean raw sewage off his hands after a water main break. But anyway. The coverage of this year’s primary rolls on, and NYCweboy has wondered out loud if the press has won, writing their story of Obama’s meteoric rise as they have, casting Hillary as an evil stalwart of the corrupt old guard. It’s depressing, and maybe it’s true: the vast majority of people I know (who, demographically, are mostly in Obama’s camp: the educated, the relatively well-off, the snooty, the idealistic, and the young; those who can afford to sing along with Scarlett Johanssen and erupt into fits of hormonal giddiness about Sir Talks-a-Lot’s oral prowess) don’t seem to really care what Obama is about, because his movement is real. Yee-haw.

So here we go, and I promised I’d give money and time to Obama if he gets the nomination because, obviously, nothing could be worse than another four or eight years of retrenched social and political conservatism in the form of aggressive foreign policy, failure to reform health care (although Obama has amply demonstrated he doesn’t really know how to do that either), and pandering to upper tax brackets. And I will. But I’m starting to feel less and less enthused about the Anointed One, mostly because I think that, however corrupt/calculating/disingenuous you find the Clinton camp, their criticisms are right on:

1)Obama is all about soaring rhetoric and not so much about ideas.

2)Obama plagiarizes his rhetoric. The evidence is pretty egregious. And yeah, maybe I’m a pedant, and certainly I’m a nitpicker, but it sticks in my craw that his obvious plagiarism of Deval Patrick’s speech is getting a free pass from the media, and from Patrick himself, even though the governor was obviously taken aback at his endorsee’s duplicity.

So maybe NYCweboy is right. Maybe the press decided this for us, and we went along, because that’s what we do, except for those of us who don’t. I’m a contrarian and an outsider from way back, and I see in Barack Obama an ability I never had: one to take all the characteristics that might have alienated people from him and play to their sentiments, to make himself the cool kid, the B.M.O.C., the one who makes you forget what he looks like or where he comes from. I don’t envy him it or begrudge him it, but I just don’t find it that appealing. Because to me, it ought to be more than a popularity contest.

I know I’m in the minority — where else would I be? And I know I’ve got about a snowball’s chance of seeing Hillary, whom I originally viewed as similar but now, due to what Christopher Hitchens accurately termed a “tsunami of drool” bestowed on Obama, see as the red-headed stepchild in this equation, get the nomination. But hey — “right” ain’t about “fair.” I’m not going to completely give up hope; to do so would be to say that the rest of this little democratic process doesn’t matter. So I’m going to keep gunning for the stepchild.
I have never been a political donor, but I’ve now given money to the Clinton campaign. Twice. And though I’ll vote for the Democrat this fall, I have just one wish if that Democrat is Obama:

Take a cue from Hillary. Turn up the substance, turn down the charm, figure out when to shut up.

Oh, and one more thing while I’m passing messages to the candidates:

Confidential to John Edwards: join forces with HRC. This is your chance to be a kingmaker, shake things up on Pennsylvania Ave., and actually fix a few of the things that are broken around here. As far as I can tell, being veep under B.O. will be all about making the cool kidz happy, and that’s no longer your thing, ennit?

Advertisements

In the wake of a flood of gender-politicking around the election and the attribution of Hillary’s New Hampshire win to her “emotional outburst,” especially by the likes of Maureen Dowd, who manages to not only misread and misinterpret Gloria Steinem‘s Op-Ed piece in the Times but also to evince that she is, in fact, as screeching harpy who has no greater insights to offer than a bad parody of Chris Matthews, I started to feel, with no little exasperation, sick of the whole misogynistic, jeering refrain about Hillary’s gender, because what it really indicates is that we so readily accept the notion that being male is normative and being female is being sub-normal (despite genetic/evolutionary evidence to the contrary) that we accord male voters a respect we wouldn’t dream of giving women, who are clearly always led by the estrogen coursing through their veins. A charming little post at Bitch, Ph.d expressed my sentiments exactly: “pundits and other commentators insist on acting as if we’ve just admitted people with vaginas to the electorate, and it’s just so crazy because how will this affect the election?!…But no, we never talk about how men will vote, because it’s just not as interesting. Or scary. Men have been voting for years! They are the average voter! They don’t vote based on little things like crying episodes or whether someone is black. They vote the issues. (…) From now on, I will be presenting analysis of the man vote. Will they vote with their penises? Are they indignant? Do they want to see a man in the White House?”

Do they, indeed. Who can’t answer that? And where is the cause for the grotesque Hillary-focused rubbernecking and prurient desire for questionable motives and/or failure? Well, according to Bob Herbert, it’s simple: we are a society that delights in dehumanizing women, in causing them pain, in observing their sufferings with dispassionate fascination. And although his piece makes some pretty big leaps of logic, it’s pretty obvious he’s not wrong — just as it’s pretty obvious that a lot of the men out there whip out their Johnsons to mark up those ballots.