Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Reflections

My initial urge to start a blog, some years ago, had to do with some things I wanted to say about Al Gore. That was back before Gore's image was rehabilitated by his Nobel prize, Academy award and great work on the environment. Back then I was fascinated/horrified by the mind-bogglingly unfair character assassination that Al Gore was subjected to in the 2000 presidential campaign. I supported him, and then the world came to believe - unbelievably - something that was completely untrue: that he was a delusional liar and an incompetent boob.

One of my early posts went,

My fascination with Al may have been rooted in his potential to create a vastly different, vastly better world than the one we live in now, and it may have been driven by the shocking events that split our history off into this world of torture, death and government surveillance, but it took the form of a frustrated need to understand how he was defeated and how he has coped.

...how did the Republicans convince Americans that Al Gore, who had a sterling reputation as a conscientious, hard-working, all-around straight arrow, was in fact a self-aggrandizing delusional liar?

...Then there's his coping. This guy was so buttoned up that there were jokes that he made FBI agents look like hippies. After his defeat he went through a brief phase in which he gained weight, always seemed to appear with a drink in his hand, and affected a devil-may-care attitude. My collection of Al photos from 2001 includes one of him shirtless and barefoot, sitting in a back yard in what appears to be a trailer park, leaning way back in a lawn chair and brandishing a bottle of beer.

What went on? What lessons does this teach us about how to overcome being crushed, humiliated, and cheated? Did his transformation help him get past it, or is he a broken man?

Later I wrote,
I don’t usually get too worked up about politicians losing elections, even when I’ve busted my butt helping their campaign. As good as they are, as unfortunate as it is that they didn’t make public office, they always have pretty good fallback positions.

Al Gore, as of this writing, is the president of a television station, the chair of an investment company and a board member of Apple Inc. Some call him the “conscience of the Democratic Party” and he makes a lot of high profile speeches.

Al’s no Gregg Allman, coming home from tours where thousands scream his name to a rented house and long dusty walks down country roads lugging beer and wonder bread because money he could have spent on a car has gone to drugs and alimony.

So then... Why did Al act like that for six months?

So now I find myself in an eerie period of deja vu, feeling that the candidate I supported, Hillary Clinton, was demonized in a way that was breathtakingly unfair: that "coventional wisdom" is perpetuating complete lies and misinterpretations of things she, her husband and her campaign did and said; that the attacks on her were rooted in a prejudice against powerful women that is so entrenched that there is widespread denial (despite overwhelming evidence such as that provided on this site) that it occurred; and that all this was done not by Karl Rove but by her own party - by my party!

Commenters on this site have accused me of being overly partisan to Clinton. I support her, for sure, but my passionate reaction to this campaign is due to the blatant, ghastly displays of sexism and to my living through, for a second time, the fictionalization of a great person. I have been transfixed by this horror story ever since it really started rolling, sometime late last year. The crazy demonization seemed to peak around February 5, just long enough for Obama to sweep Super Tuesday. Then there was a backlash as Clinton supporters started to rally, but even millions of passionate Clinton supporters couldn't make a dent in the "conventional wisdom" that she is a nasty, hypocritical, power-mad bitch.

Now that she's lost it's easy to pick out all the mistakes she and her campaign made, but I think Hillary Clinton's failure really comes down to one main factor: people are uncomfortable with the idea of a female president. A president is a paternalistic figure: he wears a suit and tie, he rolls up his shirt sleeves, he projects a certain authority that we simply don't connect with women. As the pundit famously put it, "When Hillary Clinton speaks men hear, Take out the garbage!" But this isn't a problem of men versus women. Many men have acted admirably, and many women have been sexist. This is a matter of a systemic problem in our society.

As with Al, I have no fears about Hillary Clinton's future. She may end up as VP, a member of the supreme court, governor of New York, a powerful senator or, really, whatever she wants. There's no reason to feel sorry for her.

But I feel great remorse at the idiocy and malice of the mainstream media, the so-called new media like the Huffington Post, and mostly the moronic US (and Canadian) public who bought and perpetuated the lies.

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6 comments:

Joseph said...

I think this is a wonderful post - both in giving us a sense of you and on explaining your support of Hillary Clinton. Thanks.

You may not remember but we exchanged words on Condaleeza Rice recently, with you thinking my harsh and course assessment of her was perhaps sexist. I found it strange, but chalked it up to the inherent weakness of communicating through "posts" and "comments" - which is hardly a normal conversation.

But in the exchange I remember realizing that you assumed I must be an Obama backer (since I guess you couldn't imagine I'd strongly support any woman for President). And in my response I conveyed that we both did indeed support Hillary Clinton.

With this post, I realize our feelings are very similar. I have told people I almost felt destined to support her bid - not purely because of her stands and her ideas, which I do support. But because I was so horribly offended early on - long before the Obama phenomenon and long before her even running - by the character assassination she has had to endure.

The machine has been working on her and her image for decades now. Nothing pains me more than to see progressive-minded people essentially use far-right attacks in words they planted in 1992.

I find it disgusting because she is one of the most intelligent and consistent politicians I have seen on the national stage.

I sincerely hope that she will be President someday as she is a truly remarkable individual.

Obama will gain a lot of credence in my opinion if he asks her to be his running mate. And he will lose some credibility with me if he fails to do so.

Sang.Freud said...

RIGHT ON YAPPA!!! And I say this as one who wasn't sure whether I wanted Clinton or Obama to get the nomination.

The issue should be disentangled from preferences re. Clinton vs. Obama. But sadly it won't...[as we shall shortly see].

Sang

Geekwad said...

I think the time may have passed -- at least for our generation -- where we can look to our central governments for true leadership and saving-our-ass. The Gore situation illustrates that perfectly. We no longer have (if we ever did) a system where voters can get the true measure of candidates. Instead, elections have become an arbitrary game, an exhausting mating dance where only the most driven and psychotic get to consummate. They are selecting for *something*, but it's not leadership.

Tho, really, democracy is a horrible form of governance. It should be a last resort. You're basically throwing your hands in the air and saying, "well, we can't find anyone smart enough to answer this question, so let's just do what a statistically average person would do."

I'm ready to turn my back on government and find a better way. I think Gore came to that conclusion some time ago.

Geekwad said...

Joseph, I ignore anything about Hillary that Mrs. Clinton did not herself say. And she has dug herself a real big hole in my eyes. But then, I would say that. I belong to one of the groups she threw under the bus for votes.

James Bow said...

Off topic, but I am writing to invite you to the Waterloo-Wellington Blogstravaganza that's being held at the Huether Hotel on Saturday, June 14 at 5:30 p.m. We're hoping for an eclectic, multi-partisan crowd to meet for beer and pub grub and good conversation and I hope you can make it out.

There's more details over at my blog. Again, you're invited, and bring a friend.

Anonymous said...

Yappa: This blog brings tears to my eyes for its astute and sensitive summary of the events of the past eight years.

Anon