Friday, November 16, 2007

One Man's Macaca...

"How do we beat the bitch?"

If you look at the video of the South Carolina woman asking that question to John McCain, what seems most discordant is not what she said but what she looks like. She looks like a country-club, blonde Southernern lady "of a certain age," as Tennessee Williams might have said. Dainty. Dignified. You know. From Memphis to Mobile, it's a type.

"How do we beat the bitch?'

And the question most certainly doesn't go with the type. It is distinctly non-dainty, non-dignified, and most definitely un-lady-like.

But was it a macaca moment for John McCain? No. Yeah, he should have probably recoiled in mock horror, and gasped something like, "Why madam!" He still would have been criticized for taking it too lightly. Hey, he did say he respected Hillary Clinton. Okay, several minutes after the question, but he did say it. No small thing in front of a small knot of knee-jerk right-wingers who no doubt are the actual small knot of twelve people who still believe in Dick Cheney.

I'll tell you who it was a macaca moment for. The lady who asked the question. If she has any national political aspirations, they're finished.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

My Sitter, My President

Finally, a political poll result I couldn't resist digesting in all its usually boring detail.

Except it wasn't.

As reported in USA Today
, Parents Magazine commissioned a poll which asked which of the presidential candidates of both parties parents most and least trusted to baby-sit their children. (It was conducted by Global Strategy Group, a national polling and consulting firm.)

A full 20% of respondents said they would not trust ANY of the announced candidates with their children. That's comforting, isn't it?

26%--the largest number in the poll--said they would most trust Hillary Rodham Clinton to baby-sit their children.
So Hillary gets the baby sitter vote, right?

Not so fast.

25 %--the largest negative number--said of all the candidates, the one they would least trust their children with was...Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Once again, Clinton winds up squarely on both sides of an issue.

Mitt Romney may be polling well with the flat-earth, let's-go-back-to-the-fifties types, but he can kiss the "could he baby-sit our kids?" vote goodbye. Only 5% in the poll would drive off for the night with Mitt in charge at the house. And really, why should it be otherwise? Romney is a man who has change his mind about just about everything that has ever crossed it, so fair for a parent to wonder if mid-way through the evening, Mitt might just take off, having decided that, on second thought, this baby-sitting thing is not for me.

But then, John Edwards only drew 5%, too. Surprising, too, when you think about it. This is a man, a dad, who has young kids at home now. Knows a thing or two about children. And hasn't he spoken eloquently for years about "Two Americas," one with good dependable sitters, and one with crappy sitters who never call you back, have their boyfriends over, and go through your stuff? Or was that "Two Americas" thing about poverty and lack of economic justice? Oh, wait, I think it was...

Rudy "9/11" Giulliani only polled slightly better at 9%. Maybe his past is finally catching up with him. No, not his "Ask Me About 9/11" past, but his disttinctly non-heroic family past. This is a man whose kids hate him, and are supporting other candidates. A man who used a press conference to inform his second-wife (he's on #3 now) that he intended to divorce her. Clearly those are the kind of traditional family-values that attracted the endorsement of that values Vicar himself, Pat Robertson.

Neither Dennis Kucinich nor Mike Gravel registered in the poll. Pity. Mike Gravel may strike many as that nutty, grouchy uncle in the Democratic debates, but at least you know he'd get the kids to bed on time, the playroom would be spotless, and their teeth would be well-brushed. Their shoes would probably be lined up by the bed according to size, too. Gravel would make Mrs. Doubtfire seem like an addled substitute teacher. "I said lights out now or we'll get out of bed and realign those shoes all over again!"

But enough about which presidential candidate would make the best baby-sitter.
The important thing is that one of them will be president by this time a year from now.
Replacing a president who desperately needed a good sitter, and who should never have been left alone in the house...

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

No, not a comment on the Bush-Cheney message for America.

Rather, Halloween last night, and my wife and I for the third consecutive year joined a small posse of neighborhood kids and parents for group trick-or-treating. Little did we know just how scary things would be out there in the dark with the pumpkins and the witches and the ghosts.

For one thing, the older and bigger kids have gotten, well, older and bigger. My 4-year-old tried to keep up with the slightly older girls, and several boys. But watching my 2-year-old toddle and weave her way up each walkway to each door was downright scary: first, she was jolted and pushed aside as the small, costumed mob made for the door ahead of her; then she was washed aside all over again as the kiddie wave broke from the door and dashed away making for the next house. It was like a new form of "wilding."

If I didn't intercede and literally carry her from door to door, she would have been left limp and splayed like some European soccer crowd casualty.

I actually felt pity for some of the poor people opening doors. Many were greeted by a small pack of kids 8-10 deep raising their goody bags in unison. Some actually seem to have a sudden look of shock and fear on their faces. If it were me, I would have simply tossed handfuls of candy out the door like a zookeeper feeding a pack of hungry hyenas. Then slam the door and just pray they all got some and that a few minutes later I would not see small heads bobbing up and down at the living room window like something out of a Hitchcock movie. Nevermind "The Birds." "The Kids!"

The pack began darting from house to house with seemingly increasing speed and fervor. It was candylust, plain and simple. The only elements missing were pitchforks and burning torches, and given that it was Halloween, that probably could have blended right in.

"Give us full-size Snickers or we'll burn your house down!"

"Hey, Maloneys--we know you're in there! Don't make the same mistake the Levinsons made with the bite-size Milky Ways and the single-serving Yogurt Bars!"

Scary. Very scary.

After 30 minutes or so, we weaned our girls away from the wolf-pack, and headed down another street toward home, a full several houses ahead of the mob. Next year we may wean from Halloween altogether. At least as we've done it. We're eyeing another neighborhood, and leaving the pack behind.

We'll leave the terror tactics to the White House. Where it's always Halloween....