Monday, June 16, 2008

Buenos Tuesday

As I mentioned, this may be a week o' slim pickins' since Bambina is on vacation till Monday and my days are full of play dates and visits to museums. In the meantime, here are some linkies for you, with some quickie thoughts:

An article on the--as it turns out--comparatively small number of Angry Clinton Supporters. Which is not to say they don't matter, but just that it's less of an epidemic than first thought. Which offers me some relief, not as an Obama supporter, but as a woman. The idea that someone so dedicated to Hillary Clinton and her policies could just decide to vote for McCain, an anti-choice, pro-war, conservatives-to-the-Supreme-Court candidate, really bothered me. It bothered me because of what it said about women: that if they get pissed off they will act irrationally and against their own self-interest. It's a classic meme of sexism: the angry, scorned woman. And here they go obliging that caricature. I absolutely understand the anger; this blog is littered with my pronouncements that I would NEVER vote for HRC under any circumstances. But honestly? I like to hope I'd have gotten over it by November. And if I hadn't, you can be damn sure I still wouldn't have been voting for John McCain. I mean, JOHN MCCAIN! A Democratic woman voting for John McCain!?! Please! Write in HRC, stay home, whatever assuages your anger if you can't bring yourself to help us win the White House. But John McCain? Sister, please.

Next up, Peggy Noonan's article in last Sunday's WSJ:
Aw, bless. Peggy thinks there are two Americas, one Old and one New. Fair enough. But having premised her article on it, she then has to squeeze all of her opinions into that rubric.
In the Old America, love of country was natural. You breathed it in. You either loved it or knew you should. In the New America, love of country is a decision. It's one you make after weighing the pros and cons. What you breathe in is skepticism and a heightened appreciation of the global view.

Old America: Tradition is a guide in human affairs. New America: Tradition is a challenge, a barrier, or a lovely antique.

The Old America had big families. You married and had children. Life happened to you. You didn't decide, it decided. Now it's all on you. Old America, when life didn't work out: "Luck of the draw!" New America when life doesn't work: "I made bad choices!" Old America: "I had faith, and trust." New America: "You had limited autonomy!"...

The Old America: Religion is good. The New America: Religion is problematic. The Old: Smoke 'em if you got 'em. The New: I'll sue.

Mr. McCain is the old world of concepts like "personal honor," of a manliness that was a style of being, of an attachment to the fact of higher principles. Mr. Obama is the new world, which is marked in part by doubt as to the excellence of the old. It prizes ambivalence as proof of thoughtfulness, as evidence of a textured seriousness.

I won't take the 12 pages to address each of these one by one and to offer a thought that there are many different Americas some of which are neither Old nor New. But, at the risk of just going along with Peggy's Old/New divide, let's just start at the top and say that the notion that I would decide to love my country after "weighing the pros and cons" is a bit offensive. I would offer that there are many different ways to love your country, some of which IMHO involve speaking up and out when you see it going awry. Blind approval does not equal love. Vociferous questioning does not equal hate or ambivalence. I love my country plenty; that definition for me does not include caring about damn flag pins, mindlessly cheerleading my President into a war, and calling anyone who questions our policies unpatriotic. Like I said, there are lots of ways to love your country, old or new.

Next, tradition. We "New" Americans think it is a lovely antique, while Old Americans think it is a guide for life. Again, that's too simplistic. Perhaps there are a whole swath of Americans who value tradition as a whole but who prefer not to continue those elements of tradition that devalue our fellow Americans..some of whom are members of our own families. You don't have to be non-traditional to know that some elements of "tradition" are wrong. Some of the most traditional people I know are in same-sex marriages. Nothing about their lives is at all indicative of people who are anti-tradition; they go to church, they love Jesus, they have community-based jobs, their Christmases are like something out of Currier and Ives, they volunteer, they are models of what makes a good neighbor. But Peggy's "Old" America would say they devalue tradition. I'd say they are perhaps the backbone of much of that tradition.

Lastly, I've got to address the McCain/Obama reference. Specifically, the old world of personal honor vs. the prizing of ambivalence as proof of thoughtfulness. What?! How can a guy who serially cheated on his wife and left her for a younger model be the symbol of personal honor? How can a guy involved in the Keating Five scandal be the symbol of personal honor? Or are those elements of both "tradition" and "politics is duty"? And, on the other side, why is questioning what has come before seen as "ambivalence?" Why so either/or, Peggy? The article goes on to discuss sacrifice, comparing Old (living in a cage for 5 years in Vietnam) to New (not taking a corporate job in favor of working in the community). Really, Peggy? That's the best you could come up with in favor of sacrifice? No question being a POW is a sacrifice. I won't even touch that. But there are plenty of "Old" Americans who did no such thing. So what is the definition of sacrifice for them? And there are plenty of "New" Americans currently serving in Iraq and Afghanistan and in our police forces here at home. What if they made the choice to do that instead of something more lucrative? Does that make it less meaningful?

Her article ends with the thought that America is always pushing forward into the new but, "Hope we know where we're going, though." Peggy. You should have asked yourself that at the beginning of this very reductive column.

And, finally, in a last little funny piece of partisan humor, here is a movie called, You'll enjoy it. Depending on which way you swing. ;) ps--click on the More About This Movie link to get the facts behind the claims made in the movie.

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