Saturday, May 24, 2008

why am i crying?

I have watched Hillary's statement today, the appalling, amazing, atrocious one that engendered Keith Olbermann's "Special Comment," and I have watched that "Special Comment" itself. I have read several diaries and hundreds of comments, many stunned, many vitriolic, many vehement in the thought that this time, finally, at long last, she simply must get out. The evidence suggests that this is not an accident; it is a tactic. And as Keith said, it is indeed unforgivable.

As I watched Keith, I found myself having an odd and overwhelming reaction. The longer he spoke, the more powerful it got, until I could no longer control it. By the time he stopped, by the time he uttered "Good night and good luck" in such a way that you could tell there was nothing at all good he could find in either, I had completely given in to the tears that were falling down my face.

Since I am from Illinois, I have been an Obama supporter probably for longer than many here had even heard of him. Not being from his district, I was unaware of him while he was merely another state senator, but as soon as he announced his bid for the US Senate, he began to interest me. He stood out, this self defined "skinny guy with the funny name," in a field that consisted mostly of the usual political hacks and millionaires trying to buy a seat.

Obama seemed different. He seemed real. I celebrated the night he won the primary, and when he gave The Speech at the 2004 Convention, I knew I was looking at the next Democratic President (after President Kerry, of course). I assumed that would be 2012. Circumstances changed when Kerry lost (or, if you please, when the chairman of Diebold fulfilled his pledge to do everything possible to re-elect Bush).

I started telling people it would be this year some time in '05. I've been a strong supporter ever since. I say all that because I want you to know that I was not crying out of misplaced love for Clinton or her failed candidacy. I have been in Obama's corner since well before he decided to make this run. But something nonetheless caused the tears to well in my eyes. Something that has been searing behind them for months, some quiet pain, finally burned free and opened wide the gates to let emotion out. Something inside that has been holding on finally broke tonight.

Honestly, I wanted to like Hillary Clinton. I really did. I liked her enough when Bill was President. I defended both of them time and again from my right wing brothers and friends. I laid into anyone who played the Lady Macbeth card or use the B-word when describing her: Can't a woman be strong without being defined in the negative? I'd ask. Can't she have the same strengths that would earn her honor if she were a man? But this campaign has brought out the worst in both Hillary and Bill; if it has not utterly destroyed their legacy, it has left such gaping holes in it that I'm not even sure what remains.

Maybe that's why I'm crying: the tragic fall of someone who might have been great. It's classic, right? And I am an English teacher; I should be appreciative of the richness of hubris and the additional Clintonian tragic flaw: their pathological fear of the truth. And the possibilities that Hillary engendered, the ideal of the First Woman President, her very real and very needed passionate support for universal health care, all slip away with her as she sinks into a quagmire of her own creation. A perfect tragic ending. Cue these tears.

But now I'm being cynical. Now I'm dissecting it and I don't believe it anymore. Maybe it has nothing at all to do with Hillary. Maybe it has everything to do with the legions of people, like my mother, who believe--or believed--in her. When this race began, I said we had two outstanding candidates. Gradually, I changed that opinion into the idea that we had one great candidate and one who, though she clearly was capable of some political ugliness, nonetheless was worthy of support in the fall. Tonight...

Tonight, I know that, were Hillary somehow to become our nominee, I would have to walk into the voting booth, hold my nose, and repeat the mantra "Justice Stevens is 88 years old" in order to vote for her.

Don't the people who have believed in her deserve better than this? Doesn't my mother deserve the candidate she thought she had, the one who cared about something other than herself? I don't blame her or these people for failing to see Hillary as she is: it is very difficult to let go of a well-crafted illusion, and Hillary has honed and reinforced this image so perfectly that it is easy to imagine supporters desperate to believe in her allowing themselves to be continually deluded. But damn it; these people have given their hearts, their souls, their time, and their money to her. They deserve so much more than the hideously ugly campaign she has run, so much more than the self-serving succubus she has revealed herself to be.

I think the day the tears began to well was the day Keith gave his first "Special Comment" on Hillary. Maybe you remember? It was after the detestable Geraldine Ferraro incident, when Hillary did not denounce the remarks. That and other things she had been doing caused him a lot of concern about the direction of her campaign (concern that has since been more than justified). What I recall most from that Comment was the incredible and honest pain on Keith's face as he denounced a leader he obviously respected. It seemed to hurt him physically. And every time anything ugly has happened since then, it seems to be another twist of the knife embedded in his soul.

I watched Keith tonight and I knew that all of his former respect for her had gone. And I knew also that the Hillary Clinton I too thought I could respect was a figment of my imagination. This is a woman who has come closer than any other woman has ever come to being nominated for President, someone who has done good for her country in a long public life. This is a woman who has earned the heartfelt respect and love of her only daughter, a bright woman in her own account, and has been twice elected to the US Senate. But this is a woman also who has fallen victim to her own painfully obvious delusions of inevitability, and whose ugly underbelly seeped through when that inevitability proved false.

You can respond to her now inevitable exit from the campaign with glee, with expletives, with vitriol, with the kind of exaggerated rancor we usually see associated with the worst atrocities of Bush and Cheney...but I cannot join you. All I feel right now is an overwhelming sadness. A powerful and important woman has fallen, sunk by her own overarching greed. A leader in the Democratic Party has failed us and herself, and she has taken with her the memory of the only two-term Democratic Presidency of the last half of the 20th Century. Yet another Democrat has learned to act like a Republican, begging the question of whether the GOP may well simply rise again from the ranks of its foes. And this country, which has seen so much darkness lately and so much darkness in its history, has to endure a stark and politically motivated reminder of one of the ugliest examples of that darkness.

I watched Keith tonight and I cried. We all should be crying.

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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