Tag Archives: france

Diary of a disenfranchised Democrat

Ok, I published this a few years ago but with the pundits hopping all over themselves to write President Obama’s most recent obituary, I thought we could use a laugh.  Oh, how the 1990s were just an era of wonderful bipartisanship and hope…

 

There’s been a lot of talk about how President Obama is in trouble with his base.  The narrative goes something like this: liberals are disappointed with Barack Obama’s performance.  Maybe he has been too timid, too hands-off, too much of a law professor when what we neehttp://www.alysonchadwick.com/wp-admin/admin-ajax.php?post_id=688&action=grunion_form_builder&TB_iframe=true&width=768&id=add_formded was a scrappy street fighter, willing to go toe-to-toe with an obstructionist Congress and the wiley John Boehner and Eric “Dr. No” Cantor.  Neither Bill or Hillary Clinton would have put up with this malarky.  No, sir.

My friend, Chris Rugaber (you know the AP business writer, if you don’t read his stuff, you should start), sent me this piece: When did liberals become so unreasonable? The idea being, that liberals are never happy with anything.  I dug through my personal papers and the following represent excerpts from my journal.

******************************************************************************************

Fall 1991:

Dear Diary,

My mom and I were talking about what Democrats will run for president next year.  Seems pointless to me.  George Bush is just so dang popular, what with that stupid Iraq war and all.  I like Paul Tsongas a lot but, seriously, another liberal, Greek from Mass?  That’s never gonna happen.  I said Bill Clinton is the only viable candidate.  She thinks his performance at the 1988 Democratic Convention will do him in, they did lower him off the stage and all, but I think he’s got a certain “je ne sais quoi.”  I cannot wait to move to France.  If Bush gets reelected, I am going to move there.

Winter 1992

Dear Diary,

Well, I don’t have to move to France.  Bill Clinton is our new president!  We have the White House, the Senate and House of Representatives!  I hear that means a lot!  There’s nothing stopping us now!  We are going to make health care available to everyone!  It’s a good time to be alive!  Diary, you had better not stop thinking about tomorrow!  I know I won’t!1

Spring 1993

Dear Diary,

This has been a sad time for Democrats.  We have a Dem in the White House and control both sides of Capitol Hill but President Clinton’s stimulus package went down in flames in the Senate, damn you filibuster! ( http://www.nytimes.com/1993/04/22/us/gop-senators-prevail-sinking-clinton-s-economic-stimulus-bill.html) Weren’t they paying attention to the It’s the economy, stupid! message?  Hello! I remain hopeful that we can get healthcare reform through, Hillary Rodham, I mean Hillary Rodham Clinton (I keep forgetting she is using his name now!) is heading up the committee for that so I am sure it will go through.  She tried to soften her image with that cookie recipe and my mom swears by her turkey tips (hint: avoid basting by putting bacon on top — saves time and is delicious!) but she’s tough as nails. President Clinton’s lack of foreign policy experience is pretty clear, I sure wish we’d stop the genocide in Bosnia.  Slobodan Molosovic sounds like a dick.

Fall 1993

Dear Diary,

I just cannot shake the feeling that we are fucking up big time here.   If we cannot capitalize on the promise of Bill Clinton, we are totally screwed.  Does he know the damage he is doing to our party and system?  Bosnia remains a mess.  When are we going to help these people?  I hear there’s going to be a new Holocaust museum in Washington, DC, I sure hope they look into Bosnia.  This crap is unacceptable.  None of my friends will even talk to me about it.  And now the crazy “liberal” media seems obsessed with some innocent investments the Clintons made a thousand years ago, I think they’re calling it white-water?  I don’t know why they are so anti-rafting.  Seems like a good hobby to me.

Spring 1994

Dear Diary,

Am so depressed.  Hillary Clinton’s health reform looks to be headed towards disaster!  They say she didn’t consult Congress enough, as if!  What has happened to our party?  I thought we had some guts but I guess not.  Man, Bill Clinton sucks.

Winter 1994

Well, the end of the world is here.  Officially.  The Republicans just took the House back — after about a million years.  The Speaker was the first to lose his seat since we had a speaker.  Healthcare reform died a painful death.  Damn senators act like they should be consulted on policy issues, how rude!  Don’t they know Bill Clinton is a D?  Stupid “liberal” media is still into that rafting crap.  Have they no lives?

Winter 1995

Dear Diary,

Have been too depressed to write.  Bill Clinton has failed us all.  First no action on Bosnia, then health care reform failure and then he was all about welfare reform.  Says that will be his big thing should he win reelection, good luck, jerk.  Thank god for Newt Gingrich.  He was so mean/whiny that he made us look good.  Shut down the government because he was pissed about his seat on AF1.  I sure wish Democrats would grow a pair.

Winter 1997

Dear Diary,

Wow. It’s been a painful few years.  When did Democrats stop being Democrats?  Sure we had a few victories but that’s all because Newt Gingrich is so stupid. And whiny.  Bill Clinton totally caved to the GOP on the last two budgets and welfare reform.  Thank goodness he won reelection, though he seems more like a Republican.  That rafting thing ended up being more of a big deal than I had thought. And now, it looks like he may have had an affair with an intern.  Question:  If you know the world is watching you, can you keep your pants on for five minutes?  No?  Work on it.

January 1998

Dear Diary,

Just got a job in the record industry (publicist for RCA Victor).  All my friends were surprised that I would pick music over politics but it has been hard to be a Dem.  Fr weeks, every day, reading the paper has been a challenge.  But then I was walking down the street and had a thought — why am I upset with Bill Clinton?  He has been a good president.  We have had a near unprecedented period of peace and prosperity.  That has been a good thing.  I am tired of being unhappy with him for stupid crap that doesn’t matter.

*******************************************************************************************

Ok, those aren’t really from my journals, though I am sure I wrote similar things back then.  I remember worrying that Bill Clinton was going to squander the opportunity to do some truly spectacular things with his presidency.  I could not understand why Congress resisted working with him, did they not understand that he and they were in the same party?

It is easy to criticize President Obama for being too hands off when dealing with Congress, his absence from the conversations about the debt ceiling or the super committee’s failure only reinforces the narrative and it is easy to forget that he accomplished more in his first year in office than Bill Clinton.  He also managed to get health care reform, as imperfect as it is, passed.  I would like him to be more of a fighter, to het his hands dirty a little — politics is a dirty business — but that’s not who he is.  That’s also not the person many people voted for.  I am going to try to remind myself of how I felt during the Clinton administration whenever I am tempted to buy into the narrative that says I am supposed to be disappointed in President Obama.

My Arlen Specter story

Sen. Arlen Specter

Sen. Arlen Specter (Photo credit: Talk Radio News Service)

I wrote this some time ago and thought I had published it.  As the former Senator from Pennsylvania recently passed away and I never had published it, I am now.

Several lifetimes ago,  I worked for Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA).  One thing young staffers get to do is deal with constituents — in person, on the phone and through their always well thought out and researched correspondence.  I firmly believe if our founding fathers were to travel in time to now and judged us solely on the people who visit and call their Congressional representatives, we would have a vastly different form of government.

One evening, a very peculiar woman came in.   She was convinced that anyone born in California (or Hawaii) could vote in France.  She also thought I was 45 years old.  I am not even that old now — several lifetimes later — so you can appreciate how well that went over with me.  She wasn’t too scary but she liked mu boss and made that clear.  What she said on her way out was how much she hated Senator Specter and she was going to give him a piece of her mind (Is it snarky of me to note that this was more than she could afford to give?).

One idea that I cling to, even when I am not sure why, is that people who get involved in politics do so because they care about the country.  In that respect, Hill staffers have several things in common; a strong work ethic, long hours, low pay, a hatred of all things related to the Close Up foundation.  So, when this woman, made that comment, I called Senator Specter’s office immediately (he was a Republican then.)

Me: Hi this is Alyson from Senator Feinstein’s office.  A really freaky woman was just in here and she is headed your way.  Just wanted to let you know.

Specter staffer: You do know our senator is a Republican, right?

Me:  That doesn’t matter right now.  Crazy person, coming to your office any minute.

They took my advice seriously and locked their front door — it was around 6:00 pm so that made some sense.  The woman in question shook the glass doors so much that they called the Capitol police.

The next morning, I received 15 pounds of Hershey chocolate of several flavors.  The note read; Thanks for yesterday, we would not have done the same for you.  WTF?  You wouldn’t?  Really?  REALLY?  Guess not.

We need to treat each other better.

 

If it is Sunday, it is TV time

My Sunday morning ritual, and I may have posted this before is simple — I watch the Chris Matthews show (Religiously, if I miss an episode not only does my day get off to a bad start but my week seems to suck, too. And as I have said before, I need my Chris Matthews fix so when he was ill last winter/fall/whenever it was or when they give him a vacation, he does deserve them, his shows are different and I cannot watch and suffer a minor depression until he returns.), then Meet the Press then Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer.  I do a lot of channel surfing throughout the morning and afternoon and inevitably I get all worked up and frequently yell at the TV.  This morning was no exception.

 

C-Span showed the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings with Atty General Alberto Gonzales and I got to see some of that and recorded what I missed — I do leave the house from time to time and did so this afternoon.  What I saw was appalling.  Whether he was lying to the committee about what he knew, which is against the law, or if he really did not remember everything he claims to have forgotten, neither make this situation better.  In fact, the more he spoke the clearer it became that the line between where the White House ends and the DoJ begins seems to have disappeared completely during this administration.  While all Executive Branch agencies are going to change somewhat with each administration, they need to maintain some separate identity to be able to carry out their work.  No where is this more true than at the Justice Department.  That partisan politics may have altered which cases were pursued and how is appalling.  Some may call me naïve and insist this is just 'politics as usual.' That should not change our outrage at this lack of respect for our system of government.

 

Vive la France!

 

Across the ocean, in the country everyone loves to hate, except me — I LOVE  FRANCE, history may be made there.  Believe it or not, OTHER COUNTRIES HAVE ELECTIONS and more THEY ARE NOT ALWAYS DUE TO US INTERVENTION, though I have read our campaign style has crept into their campaigns, we'll have to wait and see how that works out for them.  Better, I hope. For those who have not been watching, French candidates Nicolas Sarkozy (conservative) and Segolene Royal (liberal) got the top votes on 22 April and will face each other in a runoff election on 6 May (LA Times):

 

            "On a warm sunny day, voters in shorts, sunglasses and other casual attire stood in long lines caused by a turnout of about 86%, the highest since 1981. Some first-time voters needed help with the process.

            The high turnout reflected intense interest in a particularly suspenseful and significant election…

            Nationwide voter registration rose by more than 4 million since 2002. The Socialist Party carried out a vigorous get-out-the vote drive to avoid being blindsided again by an upstart candidate as in 2002."

Personally, as a liberal and a woman I am pulling for Ms. Royal — she would be the first female president of and that would be fantastic on many levels.  It is also amazing to see such a high voter turn out, one not marred with the polling problems we have at each election.  Lines, it seems to me they are always worse in poorer areas, were so long at polling places that many people went home because they could not afford to stay and wait.  Election day should be a holiday but back to France, where we might see we have a lot more in common with them than we think. This description of the French electorate looks eerily familiar:

           

"The country suffers from the fastest-growing public debt in , high unemployment, entrenched protectionism, a bloated public sector and concerns about both immigration and the failure to integrate ethnic Arab and African populations…

            Voters “clearly marked their wish to go to the end of the debate between two ideas of the nation, two projects for society, two value systems, two concepts of politics,” Mr. Sarkozy said.

            More than an hour later, Ms. Royal appeared before a rally in the Poitou-Charentes region, where she is regional president, promising to change , but softly.

            Many French people, she said, “do not want a ruled by the law of the strongest or the most brutal, sewn-up by financial interests, where all powers are concentrated in the same few hands.” She added, “I am a free woman, as you are a free people.”"(The New York Times)

 

One thing that struck me was the desire to change the way the government is viewed and how similar the issues are. More on 6 May!

Read and post comments | Send to a friend