I Need A Mystic Chord of Spirit Touched, Please, Madame Secretary

In 2001 my therapist in Minneapolis said he had many clients who, like me, were suffering a kind of political depression. George Bush was president and things that mattered deeply to me were being ignored.

I feel that same depression now. How is it possible that … oh you know, Donald Trump.

And Hillary Clinton doesn’t lift me out of my slough of despond. Are my reactions to her unfair? Am I guilty of a double standard?

My biggest disappointments about Clinton are that she’s so calculating, and that she lets her ambition and fear overwhelm her decency. I agree with almost every position she takes on the issues, and I admire the lifetime of work for others her husband told us about at the DNC.

But she has consistently lied about the whole email mess, which she created in the first place by being too secretive and protective of her too-managed image.

So. Double standard? I just read JFK’s Last Hundred Days, by Thurston Clarke. It tells about what JFK was growing into, building up to. Opening to Cuba. Getting us out of Vietnam. Pushing for Civil Rights. Oh. And there was that sexual addiction thing. He shared a mistress with a Mafia goon. He slept with a woman who had ties to East Germany. He slept with almost anyone who came near him. And of course he lied about it. Had the German woman deported so she couldn’t be called before Congress. This is a bit of a character flaw, right? Yet I admire JFK, felt deep sadness for what might have been as I stood in Dealey Plaza a few weeks ago.

Why can’t I give Hillary Clinton a break? Is it because she’s a woman? Am I not taking into account, as I react against how calculated and cautious she is, the decades of attacks she’s suffered at least partly because of her gender and her refusal to sit quietly in her place while the boys ran the show? I dislike her ambition and the lengths to which she’ll go to feed it, as shown in Carl Bernstein’s book A Woman in Charge and as exemplified by her saying, when asked in 2008 if Barack Obama was a Christian, “As far as I know he’s a Christian,” rather than challenging the whole notion of questioning his religion.

I know that I’m deeply distressed that she is so compromised by her flaws that an abomination like Donald Trump actually has a chance to be elected.

I’d like to be won over. I’ll vote for her, God knows, although I voted for Bernie Sanders in my Florida primary. But I’d like to see the part of Hillary that Bill talked about two nights ago. Tonight, as she accepts the nomination, I’d like to hear her talk. Not give a speech. Not holler how she’ll fight for me. I don’t want someone fighting for me. I want someone thinking and analyzing and inspiring and standing up for principle. I want to hear what’s in her soul. Including what she thinks of the darkness in there. Does she regret that some of her mistakes have made so many of us doubt her character? Show us. Let us feel that. Let us feel what drives her. David Axelrod said tonight she has to tell us not just what she’ll do as president but why.

I’ll try and relax my double standard, Secretary Clinton. You, please, send home the focus group and open up your heart. I need to feel touched. I know about your experience and competence, and god knows we need those. But I need to feel inspired. Spirit. Inside. Let it out. Draw mine out too. Touch what I felt the night Bill was elected. The night Obama was elected. Call out the better angels of all our natures. Let us see and feel what you’re made of. Please.

— Bruce Benidt

One Brief Shining Moment

“Don’t let it be forgot

That once there was a spot,

For one brief, shining moment

That was known as Unallot.”

Governor Pawlenty claims that he has the power to unallot billions of public dollars absent an unexpected emergency.  If that is true, Minnesota effectively has a democratic monarchy. That is, we have an elected head-of-state with no fiscal check from the other elected branch of government.

“Unallot! Unallot!

I know it gives a person pause,

But in Unallot, Unallot

Those are the legal laws.”

Camelot movie posterConservatives don’t seem to be given pause by Pawlenty’s unprecedented, unconstitutional application of unallotment powers. But before they get too giddy, they should think ahead a bit. How would they feel about:

  • … a Governor Bakk or Rybak unilaterally unalloting billions from Republican districts to save funding for DFL districts?
  • … a Governor Kelliher holding unallotment threats over Republican legislators’ heads to secure swing votes to pass her legislative agenda?
  • … a Governor Thiessen unalloting funding for conservative-backed projects he considers wasteful, such as abstinence education, subsidies for businesses, or freeway improvements to serve the Republican exurbs?

“In short, there’s simply not

A more congenial spot

For happily-ever-aftering than here

in Unallot!”

Indeed, during this one shining moment Unallot is a pretty glorious place for House Minority Leader Marty Seifert, GOP Chair Tony Sutton and their merry band. But if they were capable of true vision, they would cease happily-ever-aftering and join the legal challenge to Governor Pawlenty’s unallotment power grab.

Though Pawlenty is their guy for a few more months, they should remember he is a disinterested lame duck busily packing his UHaul for Iowa. He won’t have their back much longer. Moreover, Minnesota’s demographic trends make it possible that even the lame DFL Party may seat a governor one of these years.

And something tells me that a Governor Marty with unallotment powers would be every bit as bloodcurdling to Republicans as a Governor Pawlenty with unallotment powers is to the 52% of us who didn’t vote for him in 2006.

– Joe Loveland (Guest Post)