Marla R. Stevens

Horserace, Schmorserace: Curmudgeonly Queer Political Pragmatism 101

Filed By Marla R. Stevens | May 02, 2008 4:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics, The Movement
Tags: Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, Democrat primaries, election 2008, election campaigns, Julie Eisenhower, Presidential Primary

Last weekend I heard a television pundit try to paint Obama as the Great Uniter because he's bagged supporters as disparate as Julie Nixon Eisenhower and (Insert Name of Generic Deaniac White Boy Here).

I have a different take on that -- that his public message is like textured vegetable protein that has no real flavor of its own but can take on whatever flavor is mixed with it, that the disparate support is a sure sign that his message obfuscates his reality, and that the message is vague enough for the disparate supporters to imagine it is what they want it to be despite that they have no real clue what it actually is.

Is he really the Teflon Gipper meets the Dalai Lama or is he just an ambitious, smart Chicken George who has figured out how to hide whoever he is behind a calm demeanor and a big enigmatic smile?

I don't know the answer but, when I can't answer questions like that, I look to those who've been closest to the cipher. From his wife to his former pastor to the rest of those who've been closest to Obama for the long run I've been able to discern, I can say for certain that I don't like what I see.

Does that mean I'm a Clinton fan? Hardly. They both suck on most of the things I care deeply about. I'd only suggest currently supporting her so that we can get to an old-fashioned brokered convention where, even if we're stuck with one or the other of them, the deal-making that getting to whichever one of whom that is will help us make some positive change. If Obama were the one currently behind in the delegate count, I'd be suggesting support for him in search of the same ends.

In other words, I recognize that we're still going to be the under-the-bus-fodder-of-choice no matter which of them is the eventual standard bearer and I'm refusing to get suckered into horserace emotion at the expense of paying close attention to things like Congressional and Statehouse races and referenda battles that really will have a critical impact on our lives.


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the deal-making that getting to whichever one of whom that is will help us make some positive change.

What sort of positive change could that bring? Something tells me that deal-making wouldn't push either of them in a more progressive direction - it'd just be some internal Democratic politics.

And I don't know if we can really say Obama has "Teflon" after Rev Wright's been on cable news for two months straight....

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | May 2, 2008 4:20 PM

Platform change to reflect the progress this year's crop of candidates have made on marriage, perhaps. The setting of a timetable that will help get rid of things like DADTDP and Shrub era crud -- giving us a priority position in that work. Or even something as simple as getting appointment guarantees for people of our choice who will then be positioned to advocate for us.

That's just off the top of my head. I'm not a delegate and not currently in the running as a superdelegate but hope those among us who are are putting in plenty of organized prep time with this sort of stuff in mind.

Hi Marla - we haven't had a post from you in ages!

I'm starting to agree with your summary of the situation - Obama and Hillary are both pretty disingenuous in my book. I just think that Obama has done a better job of hiding it. Until now, that is.

Marla R. Stevens Marla R. Stevens | May 2, 2008 7:09 PM

It's been an interesting few months. I can now tell you, for instance, the comparative linear regression results on the use of party versus general pro-choice position as relates to legislative position on a marriage equality ban amendment based on a statistically significant but, I believe, too small a sample of thirty-nine. With a caveat that correlation is hardly cause and that, in a tight vote, as these things can be, even one error in a count can be too much to depend on such substitutes for direct-ask-horse's-mouth-position counting, party affiliation, BTW, is more accurately predictive. I believe, however, that, as enough data becomes available for a statistically-defined-as-large study using medically accurate education, we might have data worth the extra data entry and MegaStat calculations.

But, back to the subject at hand: When I think about the money one must give to be a player in a presidential race versus what will get you reasonable access in a statehouse contest ...

I'm glad to see you posting again, Marla. I've missed your wit and commentary. :)

It's happening again, people in both camps are falling in love with their candidates, drinking the koolaid, accusing the other side of being sellouts.

From experience, I say we must never, ever fall in love with politicians and think that a victory by our candidate is going to bring about change. We have to stay strong enough and uniteded enough as a movement to make them come to us.

Let's dance to our own tune and let them join in.

HIllary, Barack, whatever. Let's not substitute our candidate for the movement.

Marla R. Stevens | May 5, 2008 2:44 AM

John, you're a man after my heart! Couldn't have said it better -- and it's a philosophy that works. Keep remembering that most races are won by a margin smaller than we are. We can be make or break if we want to be.

Bil -- Hugs, as ever.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | May 5, 2008 3:39 PM

Good post Marla. The decline in support for Democrats by serious activists from many movements is gaining momentum. For decades the Democrats promised us the sun, the moon and the stars. But without exception, when the time comes to make good on the promises we’ve seen a litany of lies, excuses, and warnings not to get too pushy. That’s customarily followed by backstabbing betrayals on the war, constitutional rights, the economy, ENDA, the Matthew Shepard Hate Crimes bill, tax cuts for the rich, deregulation of corporate predators and etcetera.

That scenario won’t work anymore. Politics are polarizing on new lines – class, ethnicity, and sexuality. The pace of the polarization is driven by the overlapping crises of the war, a sharp drop in standards of living and the initial effects of environmental collapse. The polarization in turn is feeding a radicalization that even in its initial stages is sharpening the already widespread disgust with both parties. The reality is that the difference between Democrats and Republicans is only cosmetic is being driven home.

Clinton and McCain are Bush Stout and Obama is Bush Lite. Obama excites some people only because they don’t know enough about him yet. The reality is that he’s a political hustler in a right centrist party who will say anything to get elected. Obama is the recipient of the classic kind of projection of voter’s desires and hopes onto candidates. During elections the tendency to delusional projection can get a little hysterical. Witness all the posts and opinions about how either Obama or Clinton will end the war. They have no intention of doing so and have repeatedly said so. McCain of course wants to fight for a century or two.

We know that neither Clinton nor Obama objected when Frank dismantled ENDA and the Hate Crimes Bill, or when Feinstein and Democratic (sic) Senators voted for gay bashers for Attorney General and in the federal Circuit Courts. We know that when it’s expedient they happily drop into bed with us or with vermin like the Reverend Donnie, Mary Mary or, in Hillary’s case Santorum, Brownback, Rupert Murdoch or Pat Robertson.

We know they’re lying about NAFTA; all three voted for it. We know they admire the Reagan and Clinton cuts in welfare and unemployment and that their heath care plans are terrible. Both have been roundly condemned by the fastest growing union in the nation, the National Nurses Organizing Committee, AFL-CIO.

Whether Obama, Clinton or McCain makes it to the Oval Office we’ll all have to pay the price - war, economic anarchy, and unchecked bigotry.