Monday, April 28, 2008

Marriage, Politics, and Josey Wales

One of the writing assignment I give my students is to write a paper about a "concept." One student chose the concept of "marriage." He gathered a bit of the information froth from the edges of the internet ocean and cobbled together a surprisingly confusing and incoherent discussion in which he quoted from Code of Hammurabi, early Hebrew texts, English common law, John Milton's "Paradise Lost," a feminist psychotherapist by the name of Janice E. Dawley, former President Bill Clinton, and some unidentified guy. Among his observations are that "some men have difficulty telling the truth but is very fluent in telling lies shows how deceitful some men can be." Hard to argue with that. And..."even though many marriages have its ups and downs, divorce has never felt like an option." Sure, tell that to my ex. And he concludes that "Regardless, the principles of marriage show that the issues marriage throws at us can be extremely irregular." Amen to that.

My purpose here is not to make fun of my student, although I got a good laugh at those lines, but to contemplate the complexities of modern marriages. I was married for four years and therefore can claim to be an expert. The only good thing to come out of it was my son -- a gift from God for sure. However, as studies confirm, divorce spikes at the four year mark and the seven year mark, corresponding roughly to the time it takes to raise an infant, and then a second, to be a more or less functional human toddler. I fit right at the top of the first spike. Had we had a second child, it seems likely that we'd have hit the second spike. My parents had six. Five made it.

From the ancient and not-so ancient codes of marital subservience of the woman, to the Miltonian Garden of Eden where Eve gets the blame, to modern equal rights for women and marriage partnerships, to the Clinton's mysterious marriage, to the unidentified guy experiencing "extremely irregular" issues, marriage as an insitution has persisted. Not unlike the Bill O'Reilly annual attacks on Christmas he creates with smoke and mirrors every year, the fabricated "attacks" on marriage manufactured by the Christian Right in 2000 got enough anti-gay marriage groups heated up and stirred up with their petitions and legislative actions in half a dozen states to the extent that even though it took a combination of Albert Bore Gore, Ralph Nadir, the anti-gay marriage movement, and the US Supreme Court to get George W. Bush elected --so how did such schmo as George W get such a class act as Laura anyway? --he still got elected. I don't get it. Marriage as a wedge issue. And what about the Texas polygamists' compound complete with child brides with multiple mothers? Egad. George W was Governor of that state.

My parents have been married for 60 years now. You have to live a long time to achieve that. You have to weather the "extremely irregular" issues as they occur. My hat is off to them. My Dad's health is failing, but he's back home after a week in the hospital. Thinking about his life and his life with my mother has intersected with this essay on marriage I was grading and led me to go off on this tangent regarding marriage. I could have liked being married. It wasn't all bad. Maybe again sometime. Being married 62 years is like shooting your age in golf. You must defy all the statistics and "endeavor to persevere" -- from "The Outlaw Josey Wales," one of my favorite movies, Chief Dan George and Clint Eastwood. Play from the front tee boxes, play every day, ride in a cart, and be lucky as well, I suspect.

So anyway, to all my friends who have flourished in your marriages and/or survived the "extremely irregular" issues over the years, or shot your age in golf, I congratulate you and wish you the best. I'm glad that the phonied up "attacks on marriage" are not part of this year's Presidential election, and am sorry to see that FOX News can no longer do its "so many days since Obama has refused to come on our show schtick." But the best and worst of this year's campaign is yet to come. "For better or worse....till death do us part." Marriage and politics in America.

Bud C

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Political ads you won’t see - or maybe you will

Hilary went negative in Pennsylvania and won a big victory for herself. And I see that the Republicans in North Carolina are starting their advertising attacks on Barack Obama with the Pastor Wright videos. Candidate McCain has disavowed the ads, but the locals ran them anyway.

Here's a couple of Political advertising ideas you probably won't see:

On McCain - The camera would show snippets of John McCain's captivity in a Hanoi, North Vietnamese prison camp in those striped prison uniforms, him leaping from a burning jet on his aircraft carrier's deck, his long service in the US Senate, etc, etc. A voice over would then show snippets of John Kerry's military service being attacked by the Swiftboaters and Jane Fonda being excoriated for her visit to North Vietnam to protest America's involvement in that civil war. Finally, a voice critical of McCain would point out that his seven years in captivity were at what was called the Hanoi Hilton. Seven years at a tropical Hilton Hotel in his pajamas. Couldn't have been that bad.

Like I said, you probably won't see the ad.

Attack ad against Hilary:

A picture of the 3am little girl in bed. A video fade to Hilary on the phone and a close up of Hilary's face and the question, "It's 3am. Do you know where your husband is?" And Hilary's face changes to that tight smile with those piercing eyes.

or this one:

A video pan to Barack Obama announcing his supporters at a rally: "And now my good and long time friend, former Chicagoan and Black Panther Islamic Jihadist Muhammed Mustafa with whom I attended madrass as a young child in Indonesia studying the Koran, plotting against America. And sitting to his left, really way to the left, my trusted Pastor and spiritual advisor the Reverend Jeremy Wright who will call upon God to Damn America in a moment, God Bless him and my nutty Grandmother, and even farther to the left the former Radical Weatherman Red Maoist Revolutionary Youth leader and now PTA Chairperson and Neighborhood Watch commander for my daughter's elementary school, Bill Ayres. Finally, my good and loyal friend Muhammad Muhammad Muhammad, Lifetime Leader of the Chicago Communist Front for the Destruction of America party. His steadfast hatred of the "Man," of "Whitey," of "the System" carried him well in those Chicago neighborhoods where we stood in solidarity in organizing for justice against the white supremacist power machine. Please stop by his Starbuck's franchise after our rally where he is the night manager."

Actually, now that I think of it, you might see this last one by McCain supporters, so get ready for the Swiftboaters to rev up their anti-Obama campaign.

God Help Us All and Gobama in 2008