Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Political: Impersonating a Republican

So I go to the GOP convention in NYC to see what I can see and where I can go without being run out of town on a rail. You know, just to see how the other half lives. I figured it would be fun to impersonate a Republican at the events, knowing that my usual work attire of business suit with Tricia Nixon pearls and tasteful but sorority-sexy footwear would stand me in good stead with the other GOP attendees. I was not to be disappointed, as my evil plan came together in ways I could only have dreamed—and also in ways that I could only have conceived in a nightmare.

I had earlier heard about the party thrown by David Dreier which apparently featured nearly-naked women hanging from trapeze-style rafters in a bowling alley-themed party, according to the breathless report I received. WHAAAAT?!?! Isn’t this the party of morals, manners and What Would Jesus Do? How would the Pat Robertsons of the party react to the news that their very own members were throwing a Pussycat Dolls-style show—to reportedly positive reactions from the faithful?! I was SHOCKED, I tell you! And these were the same people “disgusted” by the “theatrics” at Paul Wellstone’s funeral. The GOP doth protest too much methinks…

So, unwilling to miss another T&A affair, I attended the BAMPAC event, honoring Senate candidate Alan Keyes, and featuring Virginia Senator George Allen, in the hopes of seeing some hot girl-on-girl action. Dang. It was not to be. Instead, the room was a veritable who’s who of both African-American and Caucasian “serious” conservative glitterati. Armstrong Williams, Secretary of Education Rodney Paige, Texas Railroad Commissioner, the Chief of Staff to Dennis Hastert, not to mention Allen and Alan.

DC Mayor Anthony Williams also attended, and just narrowly escaped my hilarious attempt (as a DC resident) to make his life a living hell by interrupting any huzzahs for him with “Hey! Why don’t they pick up my garbage on time?! What’s going on at City Hall? Huh?!” I sort of feel for Mayor Williams, because the guy could cure cancer and show up to accept his Nobel Prize, and he would still face yuppie wieners like me saying, “Well, that’s all well and good, but my recycling hasn’t been collected in weeks! Are you asleep at the wheel?!’

So—getting back to the attempt to pass for a ‘Pub. It was all going so well, even without the naked chicks hanging from the rafters. I was clapping lightly for “limited government! Lower taxes! Sanctity of Life!” It was all good. And then it started to unravel. My first sign that things were going downhill was a “gentleman” who started talking to me at the bar, telling me that Barack Obama is a “closet Muslim” because Barack was the name of “Muhammad’s flying horse.” He rolled his eyes and couldn’t hide his contempt: “I mean, he SAYS he’s Christian, but his name is Barack; it’s like the most popular name for Muslims besides Muhammad. Who is he kidding? And, I mean, who rides a flying horse, right? That right there shows that the whole religion is a crock—and so is he.” Okaaaaaay. My first Compassionate Conservative.

And then Ambassador Alan Keyes gets up to speak. He is doing his as-expected dog-and-pony about the Illinois race, riffing on the glowing introduction provided by Senator Allen, offering platitudes about personal responsibility and self-reliance. I clapped politely. Then he offers his one sentence answer to the question, “Why should we re-elect George W. Bush?” And it mirrors exactly the Republican noise machine’s message: “If you want this country to survive the war on terror; if you want to be secure and to keep your families safe, there can be no choice for you but George W. Bush.” WHAT????!!! That is the living definition of “tautology” if ever I have heard it. You need to vote for the guy who started the war on terror in order to survive the war on terror, which was started by the guy who you need to vote for in order to survive the war on terror which you will not survive without voting for the guy who started the war on terror…. And then, as if that wasn’t enough, he breached the prime directive of fair play in politics. He walked up to the line of common courtesy, of basic human decency and morality…and he leapt over it with gusto. He bolstered his “you have to vote for GWBush” argument with “because you can’t trust someone who went to Vietnam and then came home and dishonored every single brave man with whom he served. That is wrong and you can’t trust a man with your security who would do that to his brothers in arms!” Again: WHAAAT?!!!! I would think that the ONE PERSON who does get carte blanche for eternity to protest a war is the man who has fought it. Wouldn’t you? Where was “Ambassador Keyes” during Kerry’s time of distinguished service in Vietnam? Perhaps he was dishonoring the men who served by finding ways not to join them? Where was his sense of personal responsibility then?

So. How did my grand experiment as a Republican interloper end? As suddenly and as fanfareless as it began: I walked out. Disgusted. Sad. Sickened. Ready to get back to my own people. Ready to stop pretending that Choice is evil and that government is evil and that people who don’t support GWBush are evil. And ready to write another check to Kerry Edwards ’04.

Short Story Long: It is at first hysterically funny and then bowel-lurchingly scary to hang out with people who vehemently and vitriolically demand personal responsibility and morality in everyone’s behavior but their own…and who wield the power of the Supreme Court to make it happen. They put a happy, compassionate Laura Bush face on it, but theirs is a scary, scary party. If being a GOP mole has taught me one thing it is that Democratic failure in 2004 is not an option.

Sunday, August 29, 2004

Smorgasbord: "Smells Like Boy"

I travel a lot for work. Spend inordinate amounts of time on planes, trains and automobiles. Have more than my share of quasi-intimate encounters (ie, side-by-side eating, drinking, sleeping) with what I shall politely call “Men of a Certain Odor.”

I don’t know what it is, but a good portion of the men I have the misfortune to sit near while travelling, quite simply stink. And they all seem to have that same odor that my good friends Carol, Julie and I have named pithily: “Smells Like Boy.”

Ask any woman and she will know what you mean when you say that a room or a car “smells like boy.” Women whose husbands have a basement or attic “Man Town” where he and his buddies drink beer and watch games and play video games will understand Smells Like Boy. Women who attended colleges with all-male dorms or floors will understand Smells Like Boy. Women dating men who live alone and don’t get the chance to clean up before we come over will understand Smells Like Boy. Women who have parented even one male child through adolescence will understand Smells Like Boy.

Be it pheromones, hormones, or the sweating out of last night’s buffalo wings hot sauce, men in general have a “boy smell” that is as distinctive as any odor on earth. I can neither describe nor deconstruct it, but to paraphrase Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of p**nography: “I know it when I smell it.” It is not the well-earned and completely understandable smell of a post-workout guy, or a just-walked-home-from-the-train-station-in-90-degree-heat guy, or (Dad, don’t read the next sentence) the kinda yummy just-spent-20-minutes-making-out-with-me-like- high-school-kids-at-the-movies guy. Nope. It is a smell all together sui generis.

Short Story Long: The travelling men in question tend to be between the ages of 16 and 36. They are usually dressed in what look like clean clothes, but upon further olfactory reflection, were probably worn a few times and picked up off the floor for today’s outing. Their breath is usually fine, but their hair/scalp odor is usually not. Maybe they shower but don’t shampoo? Their armpits usually don’t reek, but their feet usually do. But not in the way that you can pinpoint that it is indeed footstink more than perhaps shoestink. It is essentially a generalized miasma surrounding their entire person that is neither BO nor halitosis nor athlete’s foot. It is just, honestly, no offense intended, “Smells Like Boy.”

Political: Why The World Needs Confident Men

In September’s GQ magazine, John Kerry offers the following statement on what he looks for in a woman:

"Look for what gets your heart. Someone who excites you, turns you on. It's a quality of character. It's a kind of presentation. Sense of womanhood. Full woman. Confident. It's a woman who loves being a woman. Who wears her womanhood. Who knows how to flirt and have fun. Smart. Confident. Has a sense of self. Strong. And obviously sexy and saucy and challenging."

I was delighted to read that Senator Kerry agrees that a woman can be smart AND sexy AND confident AND challenging…AND consequently be devastatingly attractive to a man.

I have always detested the old adage that “behind every great man is a great woman” on the grounds that it was sexist, irritating bullsh**. Now I realize its essential truth, but in a different way than it was intended, and in the spirit of what I believe Senator Kerry was trying to say in GQ. I now believe it is true because only a man with true greatness in his future will have the stones to choose a smart, challenging and sexually-confident woman with whom to spend his life. Because if he has the sense of self to be challenged in his personal life by an equal, he will have the fortitude and emotional intelligence to achieve meaningful success in external pursuits. Courage in the former presages courage in the latter.

Or, to break it down, I’ll just say it like this and let the feathers fly how they may:

Any runt of a man can find a docile woman who constantly says yes and "whatever you want is fine with me and I will never call you on bad behavior” to marry. Sad to say, those women are out there and already have the Bride Magazine clippings in an alphabetized Wedding Binder awaiting your proposal over a romantic date that mirrors the latest episode of The Bachelor. If that’s what you want, by all means have at it, gentlemen. I know you are out there too.

But it takes a truly confident man to find a “saucy and challenging” woman attractive in the first instance, and to know in his heart that she is exactly what he needs in a partner in the second instance. Therefore, to my mind, men-as-potential-partners (and Presidents) can be characterized (and judged) on that one key value: Confidence. All other sought-after qualities will likely come under this one value (see Fidelity, Honesty, Integrity, Compassion, Intelligence, Kindness, Sensitivity). In love as in electoral politics, if you find a man with confidence, you will have struck gold in all the ways that matter.

I do not speak of “confidence” in the chest-beating, “hasta la vista baby,” get-her-in-bed-everytime-and-get-rock-hard-abs-this-month, Donald Trumpian-huge-ego definition shouted ad nauseum on the covers of “lad magazines” such as Maxim or FHM. Theirs is nothing but a pale imitation of the real thing:

Rather than develop it, here is how to fake it. Feeling less-than-confident? Get a load of these naked women looking at you seductively (albeit from the pages of this magazine…). Get better abs. Get better sex every time. Get more money. Get more people to like you.

But confidence does not come as a result of having these things; rather, these things come as a result of having confidence.

Let us catalog a few of the ways in which true, healthy confidence in a man is the foundation for a healthy relationship and a healthy Republic:

Truly confident men do not view success and fulfilment as a zero-sum game. In both love and in politics, a confident man understands that the best solutions, the best negotiations, the best situations are win-win. He does not minimize or impede another’s successes (or tell lies about their distinguished service to their country), because he already has confidence in his own (or not…).

Truly confident men do not need the empty adoration of multiple partners to feel attractive and virile (Fidelity). They do not need to taint their honor for a meagre allotment of ego boosting, be it from women, alcohol, gambling, certain swing states or special interest groups (Honor, Integrity). They do not abdicate their responsibilities, because they know that they are doing the best they can with the best of intentions (Responsibility). They do not blame others for their shortcomings, but rather take the lessons they have learned and inculcate them into their behavior moving forward (Honesty, Sensitivity). They do not view simple human kindness, in national policy or personal practice, to be a sign of weakness (Compassion). They know their limits and therefore comfortably surround themselves with people talented in all they ways they are not (Intelligence). In short, confident men are not perfect. They simply know the difference between making it and faking it.

I’ve been with both kinds of men; I’ve loved them, worked with them, taken classes with them, reported to them, done business with them, voted for them. I’ve seen the harm a man without confidence can do; the type of harm that ripples out in every direction imaginable, with consequences he can’t erase, pain he can’t undo, and subsequent corrective decisions he can’t bring himself to make because he doesn’t have the confidence to admit his mistake, learn his lesson, and take his lumps like a man. Whether the result is a war in Iraq or a shady business dealing or a deceitful sexual fling, a man without confidence is a man without moral or ethical boundaries.

In love as in electoral politics, a confident man can love a confident woman (or a confident, smart electorate), admit when he is wrong, turn the tide of hurt feelings (or public opinion) on the credibility of his word, and give those around him their own confidence to do their best work.

Short Story Long: John Kerry, you had me at Hello.

Friday, August 27, 2004

Smorgasbord: Fun Facts for the Wonk-Inclined

Trivia, miscellany, and plain old fun facts from the good people at Harper's Weekly.

As Abraham Lincoln once said: "People who like this sort of thing will find that this is the sort of thing they like."

Harper's Index

Political: John Kerry's 1971 Speech Revisited

Click this link to read an update of John Kerry's speech from 1971. It is a fantastic piece of work by Edgar's End Notes.


Thursday, August 26, 2004

Religious: Jews for Jesus OR, More Accurately: Christians

Y'all. This is where my gloves come off.

I was just given the missionary treatment by two Jews for Jesus representatives at the Foggy Bottom metro station. For the first woman, I just gave her the "Talk to the Hand" move and kept walking. The guy saw me coming and persisted in trying to give me literature. I stopped in my tracks and said, "Emphatically Not." I would have kept talking but I felt like I would say too much, too angrily, too publicly.

So here I am. Telling you. Jews for Jesus are what I respectfully call *CHRISTIANS.* I will not even discuss the slamdunk fact that proves my point (the group's origins as a Christian evangelical offshoot), but will focus on the basic beliefs that make their claims to be Jews for Jesus impossible.

Jews for Jesus are not Jews. If they want to be Former Jews Who Have Accepted Jesus As Their Lord and Savior, then I will throw them the renaming party myself and give them all the honor and respect that conveys. Truly. I think it goes without saying that in this day and age, most of us (at least the people I would associate with anyway), firmly believe in and would fight for anyone's right to practice and devoutly believe in the religion of their choice. That is not the issue. The issue is that Jews For Jesus are, as the first page of their web site says, committed to "evangelizing unsaved Jews." They believe that Jesus is the Messiah. Jews do not. Which, therefore means, quite easily and simply: they are not Jews.

I will simply say this: Jews are waiting for the Messiah. Christians already know who he is and await his RETURN. The two are, for all practical purposes, mutually exclusive. If my messiah has not yet arrived, I cannot be a follower of Jesus Christ. If you believe that Jesus is the Christ/the Messiah, then you cannot, by definition, be Jewish.

Obviously there are so many other tenets that comprise both Judaism and Christianity, but can we all agree that these would be, oh, the kinda important, elemental ones? Imagine if you will, a group called Muslims for Jesus. Sound ludicrous? You bet it does. Why? Because "there is no god but Allah and Muhammad is his prophet." Islam 101. Kind of rules out the Jesus thing, right? Imagine if you will Christians for Simon Bar Kokhba (check your Roman/Jewish war history for military leaders as putative messiahs-based-on-military-victories). Christians for Bar Kokhba just makes no sense, to Christians as well as Jews.

So--why is that everyone is so easily led down the primrose path by Jews for Jesus? Because Jesus was a Jew? Because it sure would help in the "can't we all just get along?" effort? I don't know. But here's what I do know: the straight dope on Jews and the Messiah, right outta the Torah. So hear me out--and then I can get off this topic because it raises my blood pressure, which creates broken capillaries, which mars the face and legs, which detracts from the radiance of my milky white complexion. Many Thanks for hearing me out.

(Thanks to the good people at Jews for Judaism for helping me with the specifics here):

The Jewish tradition of "The Messiah" has its foundation in numerous biblical references, and understands "The Messiah" to be a human being - without any overtone of deity or divinity - who will bring about certain changes in the world and fulfill certain criteria before he can be acknowledged as "The Messiah".

First of all, he must be Jewish - "...you may appoint a king over you, whom the L-rd your G-d shall choose: one from among your brethren shall you set as king over you." (Deuteronomy 17:15)

He must be a member of the tribe of Judah - "The staff shall not depart from Judah, nor the sceptre from between his feet..." (Genesis 49:10)

To be a member of the tribe of Judah, the person must have a biological father who is a member of the tribe of Judah.

He must be a direct male descendant of King David and King Solomon, his son - "And when your days (David) are fulfilled, and you shall sleep with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who shall issue from your bowels, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will make firm the throne of his kingdom forever..." (2 Samuel 7:12 - 13).

He must gather the Jewish people from exile and return them to Israel -"And he shall set up a banner for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth." (Isaiah 11:12)

Are all Jews living in Israel? Not yet.

He must rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem - "...and I will set my sanctuary in their midst forever and my tabernacle shall be with them.." (Ezekiel 37:26 - 27)

At last check, there is NO Temple in Jerusalem.

He will rule at a time of world-wide peace - "...they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore." (Micah 4:3)

How are we doing on this one?

He will rule at a time when the Jewish people will observe G-d's commandments - "My servant David shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. They shall follow My ordinances and be careful to observe My statutes." (Ezekiel 37:24)

The Torah is the Jewish guide to life, and its commandments are the ones referred to here. Do all Jews observe all the commandments? No we don't. I ain't proud, I'm just speakin' the truth.

He will rule at a time when all people will come to acknowledge and serve one G-d - "And it shall come to pass that from one new moon to another and from one Sabbath to another, shall all flesh come to worship before Me, says the L-rd" (Isaiah 66:23)

There are still millions, if not billions of people who practice Hinduism, Buddhism, and many other religions. It is clear that we have not yet seen this period of human history unfold.

All of these criteria are best stated in the book of Ezekiel Chapter 37 verses 24-28:

And David my servant shall be king over them; and they shall all have one shepherd. they shall also follow My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. And they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Yaakov my servant, in which your fathers have dwelt and they shall dwell there, they and their children, and their children's children forever; and my servant David shall be their prince forever. Moreover, I will make a covenant of peace with them, it shall be an everlasting covenant with them, which I will give them; and I will multiply them and I will set my sanctuary in the midst of them forevermore. And my tabernacle shall be with them: and I will be their G-d and they will be my people. Then the nations shall know that I am the L-rd who sanctifies Israel, when My sanctuary will be in the midst of them forevermore.

If an individual fails to fulfill even one of these conditions, then he cannot be "The Messiah." A careful analysis of these criteria shows us that to date, no one has fulfilled every condition.

Short Story Long: And so, as Jews, we wait....while avoiding the green T-shirted missionaries in the train stations and airports!

Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Political: A Lie Can Travel Half Way Around The World...

...while the truth is putting on its shoes.

It stuns me that the media, who were so recently caught with their pants down in their failure to fulfill their role as the Fourth Estate in the now-discredited Bush Administration's "proof" of WMD-in-Iraq-as-justification-for-the-war saga, would STILL be repeating and re-airing the baseless charges by the Swift Boat Veterans.

It is ironic indeed that while John O'Neill of the SBVFT accuses Kerry of dishonesty and being unfit for command, he himself has been lying about his connection to and involvement with the GOP. If Mr. O'Neill is so confident in his charges levelled against Kerry, why not just be honest about his--and his cohorts--and his law firm's--connection to the Bush Campaign, the Bush Family, and the Republican Party in general?

O'Neill's Donations

This Just In: CNN's Aaron Brown aired this piece last night showing VIDEO proving that O'Neill has been lying.

JOHNS: Behind the scenes, Kerry's aides were fighting the swift boat charges with unusual ferocity. They say they have evidence one of the top members of Swift Boat Veterans for Truth is an outright liar.

The co-author of the book "Unfit for Command," former swift boat commander John O'Neill said Kerry made up a story about being in Cambodia beyond the legal borders of the Vietnam War in 1968.

O'Neill said no one could cross the border by river and he claimed in an audio tape that his publicist played to CNN that he, himself, had never been to Cambodia either. But in 1971, O'Neill said precisely the opposite to then President Richard Nixon.

O'NEILL: I was in Cambodia, sir. I worked along the border on the water.

NIXON: In a swift boat?

O'NEILL: Yes, sir.


JOHNS: Now, O'Neill may have an explanation for this but he has not returned CNN's calls. What does seem clear is that a top member of the swift boat group is now being held to the same standard of literal accuracy they've tried to impose on John Kerry

Short Story Long: How quaint. Holding yourself to the same standard of truth as your opponent. A novel and revolutionary idea in the lawless, reckless and feckless exercise that is now American politics.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Political: The Lizard King

Stop me if you've heard this one before.

I got in a cab to Dulles airport last week to get my flight to LA. Only this time it's not my usual Mr. Louis Jones, Sr. driving. No, it's another gentleman who seems okay enough for a good part of the ride, telling me about his childhood here in DC, how he is 70 but still working with no plans to stop till he dies. A real bootstrapper who I decide is my kind of hard-working, no-nonsense, old-school chap, even if he isn't Mr. Louis Jones, Sr.

At about minute 23 of the 40 minute jaunt out to DC's exurbian airport, we of course (as all cabbies and passengers do) get to talking about politics. His concern was that the constant terror alerts are harming travel to DC, thereby necessitating that he start work at 4am in order to make the same number of fares he would have a couple of years ago by starting at 8am. And he's 70!! I agreed that terror alerts ought to be accompanied by some kind of actionable information for citizens, e.g., watch for unattended backpacks, large groups of young men at airports, whatever. But if you can't put into words what any of us should do in response to the alert, then you should shut your cakehole about the potential danger. Because to not do so would be Political Opportunism, which this administration would never stoop to engage in...

But I digress. At about minute 25 of the 40 minute jaunt out to DC's exurbian airport, I learned from my cabbie that this country and indeed the whole dang world is ruled by Lizard People. Yes, Lizard People. You heard it here first: "It don't matter none who wins, because you see that they are all descended from lizards, and they are all of the same bloodline, so whether Kerry or Bush wins, it don't matter none, because they are all related and THEY--the Lizard People--win either way."

Cue my academy-award nominated performance as "passenger NOT at all afraid of driver's sanity and potential for dumping her body on the airport access road as an offering to the lizard people." Yes, it was time for my closeup, and I knew that my entire career depended upon my performance in this moment. So I reached within myself and my memory as the thespian that I am, to find a past experience I could draw upon in order to truly inhabit my character and my role as "passenger not at all afraid of...etc." That moment was my first day at Connecticut College. {Stay with me here}.

When I met my roommate's (obviously very wealthy) parents on my first day at Conn College, her mom's first question after saying "how nice to meet you Esther" was "so what does your father do for a living?" Now, maybe as the daughter of a school bus driver, I didn't learn no manners nor nuthin', but I was always raised to consider questions of that nature, so quickly asked, to be the height of rudeness. Guess them thar folks in Newport and Greenwich didn't get the right kind of upbringin we po' folks got. Shame, really. Cause she seemed like an otherwise somewhat nice lady. Good thing she married well, or her rudeness would really have held her back in life.

But I digress again. My point was that, in the cab, at the moment of the Lizard People revelation, in an attempt to get out of the cab with a minimum of drama, I reached back to that day at Conn College and imitated, verbatim, my roommate's mother at the (I'm sure for her, equally shocking) moment of learning that her daughter would be rooming with the child of a {gasp!} "blue collar" worker. I even channeled the Martha Stewart faux-WASPy accent in that instant and replied through a fake smile to the cabbie, "Well, HOW INTERESTING! Isn't that something!? How nice!"

So I thank you, Mrs. Name Redacted, for saving my bacon with your snobbery 12 years later! And I thank you because it not only got me to the airport on time, but it got me some more info on the Lizard People who control our country. They drink blood and are descended from an alien race who came to earth as shapeshifting humans. They are part of the Illuminati--that nebulous and mysterious entity made famous by Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code.

The alien thing sounded sort of familiar, so I asked if he was talking about scientology, to which he immediately barked, "NO! It's not scientology! Why does everyone ask me that?!" Okaaaaay. Take it easy, big fella.

And then I remembered: David Icke, renowned Holocaust denier, "names names" in a hysterical book I read abouta year ago called "Them" by Jon Ronson. Ronson's book is, as the leaf says, "an extraordinary journey through the world of fringe dwellers," where he meets all manner of white supremacists, alien fanatics and an islamic fundamentalist in London who tricks "the Jew" into driving him around London to run his errands because he has no driver's license or car. Despite, and maybe because of, the subject matter, it is absolutely hysterical. Really! Buy it or ask me to borrow it. I laughed hysterically from cover to cover. And you know there ain't nothing funnier than white supremacists and anti-government militiamen. No sirreee.

Short Story Long: I sure hope Illuminati Lizard People don't read blogs.

Mars/Venus: He's Just Not That Into You

Today's Washington Post Style section features an article about a guy who is honest with women about relationships. So much so, that he became a consultant to Sex and the City, as the voice of the "straight male" in the scriptwriting. He has now written a book with the title, "He's Just Not That Into You." (I'll post a link as soon as I learn how to do it).

His point to women of all ages is as follows: If he doesn't call, doesn't commit, dates other people, is "too busy" to spend time with you or call, etc etc ad nauseum, the answer is very simple: HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. To paraphrase him, "I don't care if I'm flying the space shuttle tomorrow morning," if a woman who interests him wants to get together, there is no way he'd let anything get in the way of getting together.

Short Story Long: What a genius and novel concept! Ladies, it's time to stop wondering and investigating and agonizing over "what you did or didn't do" or "what he really means" by not calling, committing or making time. It's crystal clear: HE'S JUST NOT THAT INTO YOU. It's a painful reality, but less painful than agonizing for days, weeks, months or even years about what *you* need to do differently to get him to call, commit or make time. The only thing you need to do differently is cut your losses and find the guy who DOES want to call, commit and make the time. Case in point: the author himself is now married with a 2-year old child. He knew his wife was The One when he found himself complying with her (sometimes not so) gentle insistence that he was going to have to perform at a higher level emotionally and personally to be with her. He started calling on time and making the time, and he got the girl.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Political: A review of My Life by Bill Clinton

(Originally posted on www.sozadee.com)

It pains me a wee bit to write this review because I am an avowed FOB. But sometimes tough love (and tough editing) are the only ways to demonstrate true friendship. Right?

My Life, by Bill Clinton.
And he MEANS it! If you think there will be one anecdote, one quip, one facet of his vida loca not discussed in these 900+ pages, you don't know Billy.

Disclaimer: I have not yet completed the entire book. I am up to Chapter 17. Not bad, eh? Except that he has just lost his first race for the House from AR and has yet to marry Hillary...

You think I'm kidding.

Many of his detractors vigorously propound the theory that Bill Clinton is a "taker," be it politically, sexually, romantically or socially; that he is a man who receives rather than gives, by his very slick and selfish nature. Not so, gentle reader, if My Life is any indication. Not only does he give every last detail of almost every last conversation he has ever had with anyone he remembers, but he also gives you the INTERPRETATION of those events and their effect on his later life.

To wit, President Clinton's writing style can be summarized thusly:

One and a half pages of story (generally about his childhood, people he knew in Arkansas, his mom's husbands, the salt-of-the-earthers down at his Papaw's general store, so on and so forth), followed by a rather ham-handed statement such as, "and that's why as President I fought to increase the tariffs on Sri Lankan molasses byproducts, because I always thought back to Stinky Faubus and his hardworking family...," followed by a further interpretation and explication of how and why the events of his childhood would lead him to make certain decisions, even decades later.

You see, Billy is such a Giver, he doesn’t want you to have to wait till you read in Chapter 32 about his fight against Sri Lankan molasses byproducts to achieve the mental “aha!” upon reflecting back to Chapter 4’s story of Stinky Faubus. No, he TELLS you right up front what you are supposed to glean from his rememberings. One wonders why President Clinton’s editor did not do as most 10th grade English teachers do: caution the student to write the story, evoke the emotion, and let the reader make the interpretation and the intellectual leap to the conclusion.

I was beginning to get irritated with his lack of faith in me as a reader, but, as he always does, the Comeback Kid had me once again feeling the love in short order. Because I realized that My Life is not a Book. It is Bill Clinton’s conversation with himself about himself; a conversation to which you, the reader, are privy. If, rather than reading the words he has written, you HEAR him speaking the words in your mind, you suddenly can hear the rhythm, the cadence, the pause for lip-biting, the one-eye closed pause for thought, the catch in his voice as he talks about his mother and his daughter. And you finally get it. This is a man who has had years of therapy after some of the most public humiliations and defeats any of us could imagine. As a result of that therapy, he has had epiphanies all over the place. He has finally achieved an understanding of why he did the things he did, and he is drunk with the joy and peace of that understanding. And, like any religious convert or recovered addict, he actively, genuinely, unashamedly wants to share that joy and that peace with those whom he has injured.

This book is certainly about Bill Clinton’s concern with his legacy, as his detractors repeat derisively. Although IMHO such a concern is not shameful in and of itself (see the multiple vanity oeuvres by Bill O'Reilly, Newt Gingrich, Tucker Carlson, et.al for proof of same). What the book truly represents is Bill Clinton closing the book on an era, his life to date, with a view to beginning the next era afresh. In that regard it is perhaps a success. Where it fails is in ensuring that I will be able to witness that next installment without a herculean effort on the part of a working person with other responsibilities to finally, at long last, complete his account of THIS era.

Short Story Long: Still love ya, Billy. But next time, resist the urge to ignore your editor.


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