Thursday, May 22, 2008
Can You Believe I Just Listened?
And didn't say a word?
Last night at Lotta's dance class two moms were talking politics. I had my nose stuck in "Shock Doctrine" by Naomi Klein. (Did you know that mentioning Klein's 'No Logo' is one way to brand yourself as a white person who likes things?) I had previously pegged one of the moms as a GOP'er, since she thinks No Child Left Behind might not be such a bad idea. (She had experience with graduates in the Chicago area who could not read).
Now in another age and time we'd have shown each other the secret high sign and pondered impeachment and other dreams (to crib a phrase from a great blogger). But these days, no chance.
The one mom - one I don't know all that well - started talking about the election. The other mom (NCLB lady) was more of a listener, a devil's advocate.
It soon became very apparent that first mom was a Hillaryite. And it occured to me that she was very close to becoming unglued. She was speaking in a low voice at high speed. It seemed feverish. She had the tone of a 9/11 Truther when you say you agree with some, but not all, of their claims.
"And now, Obama says 'lay off his wife,'" she snorts. "I mean, hey, it's an election. She's fair game, she's campaigning for him".
My nose slowly rises from the pages of my lefty book. I squint.
"All the wives campaign. Nobody goes after them," I intrude on a conversation that I'm not really in yet.
"Yah but" (is a Wisconsin expression) "Michelle discusses policy. For instance," the Hillaryite continues, "I think its perfectly fair to go after Elizabeth Edwards for her stand on healthcare".
"As I understand it" (I haven't seen the ad)"they are attacking her personally, portraying her as unamerican. That's not policy." I say. And then I make a Cindy McCain joke that does not include the word cunt, which is not easy, and it does not get a laugh.
The other mom is nodding with me.
"Yah but" rejoins the Hillaryite "Michelle Obama has said A LOT of things that make me wonder about her. Yah know, she's pretty down on a country that's given her so much ....." she searches above her glasses for the word, "opportunity."
"Well, okay aside from the 'for the first time in my adult life' comment, what has she said?" asked the other mother.
"Oh you know" said Hillaryite. Conspiratorial whisper: "there's just a lot out there. And besides I don't think that 'first time' comment was a mistake. I mean, she's the Vice President of the University of Chicago hospitals, she's in Public Relations- she knows how to address a large crowd."
The other mother (okay, actually it was me, but that doesn't fit the narrative of me passively sitting by just listening, does it?) deftly steered the conversation around to things we could all agree on. The fact that the media covers the horse race and ignores the issues. Oddly, Hillaryite comments that it's just not fair that every little gaffe the candidates make gets covered ad nauseum. She sees no hint of irony in her stance.
A few moments later we are called into the ballet studio to watch our daughters' routines. NCLB mom whispers "I hate talking about politics right now. I'm just waiting for this to be over."
When I get home I consult Google. I can't find much quantity in anti-American comments uttered by Michelle Obama. I do find much on the "first time" comment. The only other thing I find is a report on her senior thesis at Princeton which discusses the racial experience of blacks at Princeton. How they are treated, if there is assimilation after graduation, etc. I find that this was a controversy from February that completely passed me by. It seems some pearl clutchers see a conspiracy because Princeton is not releasing the thesis. It seems that the number of requests for the thesis is overwhelming the archivists at Princeton.
What has me somewhat perplexed, coming late to this controversy, is how anyone can be shocked that Michelle Obama would look around at Princeton and see racism. It is unforgivable for fellow dems to make this complaint.
Concerned Alumni of Princeton. The organization opposed to both women and minorities on the campus of Princeton. The organization devoted to the advancement of privileged white sons. The same people who, nostalgia brimming, longed for the days when the Ivy League had no women, had no blacks, had no hispanics. Might have a Jew. Anyone remember them?
Yeah, that crazy Michelle. Imagining racism at Princeton. What will we do about that?
Perhaps she's just uppity.