Friday, October 7, 2011

Silence Day Eight

It is not true that silence engenders calm. It is still perfectly possible to have an argument while unable to speak. Fury can still be expressed, opinions thrown about. Some who are forced or choose to be silent might be able to take those few moments needed to write or to get into position to gesture and think about the wiser course. How remaining quiet will help more than gesticulating or writing in very large capital letters. I am not one of these people. The odd thing is that my family has the same reaction to my silent tirades as they do to my vocal expressions. If I were them I would just ignore me but they find my silent ranting and gesticulating as repulsive as the audible version and try hard to avoid prompting them. This thought occurred to me not only because of the daily bumps and potholes of family life but because of a political report I read yesterday which reminded me of a theory of mine about political campaigning. Whenever I hear a politician making a mistake I wonder if he or she is simply unable to edit or they have bad advisors. A woman by the name of Elizabeth Warren is running for the Democratic nomination to face Scott Brown, Republican Senator from Massachusetts. Brown is well known for his modeling career, a job that put him through college. In a radio interview he was asked about Warren’s comment that to get through college she did not “take my clothes off”. Now, I feel Warren’s comment was a joke but it certainly could be taken as a dig at a perfectly acceptable way of making money and might even be seen as prudish. I did not hear the comment directly so cannot say. Scott’s response to Warren’s jibe was this: “Thank God”. I predict that Scott Brown has already lost the election. If he had replied that Warren was either a prude or a bad joke teller he would have scored a point and put her on the defensive. Instead he lost the election because he will never get enough women to vote for him no matter what he does. This moment reminds me of other defining spoken moments in elections. There are, of course, the visuals: George Bush the Elder looking at his watch during a debate, John Kerry windsurfing. I am not thinking here of the “defining moments” such as Dukakis’s response to the question of how he would react to the rape and murder of one of his family members. I am thinking of the small moments that pass almost unnoticed, except by weirdos such as I, who pay far too much attention to these political circuses. The most recent little moment was in June of 2008. Most people think that McCain lost the election with the crash in September of that year or when he was born a complete tool with the moral principles of rutting hog. Though both of these were significant I believe It was something else and it is something he has in common with two other really terrible candidates for President, John Kerry and Al Gore. In an interview in June of 2008 John McCain said something along these lines: I wish Barack Obama would quit attacking me and debate the issues, that he would stop these personal attacks. On the face of it, a perfectly reasonable request. I remembered, though, that Kerry and Gore had made almost exactly the same request of their opponents in the previous elections. Instead of making these candidates look like reasonable people trying to have a responsible debate with people who know nothing of Robert’s Rules and the bounds of Decency it simply makes them look weak. McCain believed that his plea would resonate as the appeal of a reasonable man fighting despicable forces. It echoed as the sound of a chickenshit. Not necessarily consciously, but under all the noises about reason and debate people aligned themselves with the man who fought hard and asked and gave no quarter. The unspoken, possibly unrealized, response was: Man Up. When you hear Mitt Romney (for it will be he) ask that Obama refrain from “all these personal attacks” call your bookie and lay everything you have on Obama’s re-election. As for Scott Brown, he has done something slightly different, the Rick Lazio move. Lazio was the man who stomped across a debating stage and brandished a paper at Hilary Clinton in a Senate campaign debate and instantly lost all. Fool that he was, Lazio had not realized that Hilary was the smartest he would ever meet, until Obama showed up. The language of politics, for all our bemoaning its unchanging dynamics, has in fact changed quite radically. It has been feminized. Don’t get me wrong, all those women out there also unconsciously thought, Man Up, McCain, not because they admire old notions of manliness but because, more than men, women have to put up with this shit all the time and they don’t go whining about it to the nearest microphone. They get up, they feed the kids and they go to work. What Scott Brown has done is insult all those women out there who consider themselves attractive, who dress up once in a while when they can afford a babysitter and astonish their spouses and friends with their poise and elegance and who want, just now and again, to be told how good they look. They even want their beauty acknowledged when it isn’t framed in glamour and they want, above all, to be respected for what they do. When Scott Brown mocked Elizabeth Warren’s looks he drove several daggers through every facet of modern perception. He cannot escape it because if he claims he was kidding and he thinks Warren is perfectly good looking he looks both like a liar and a Neandertal because his instinctive reaction to a female opponent was to comment on her looks. Scot Warren will soon be the former Senator from Massachusetts.

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