This is The Best Thing You’ll Read All Day (TM).
Pull quote: “The enormity of the advantages I had always enjoyed started to truly sink in. Everyone begins life thinking that his or her normal is the normal. For the first time, I found myself paying attention to broken eggs rather than making omelets. Up until then, I hadn’t really seen most Americans as living, breathing, thinking, feeling, hoping, loving, dreaming, hurting people. My values shifted — from an individualistic celebration of success (that involved dividing the world into the morally deserving and the undeserving) to an interest in people as people.”
wow… “as people”… you have to “learn” this?
You’d be surprised. When you have an entire system set up to teach you that 2+2=5, reality always comes as a shock:
I might still have stuck it out as a frustrated liberal Republican, knowing that the wealthy business core of the party still pulled a few strings and people like Richard Lugar and Olympia Snowe remained in the Senate — if only because the idea of voting for Democrats by choice made me feel uncomfortable. (It would have been so… gauche.) Then came Hurricane Katrina. In New Orleans, I learned that it wasn’t just the Bush administration that was flawed but my worldview itself.
I had fallen in love with New Orleans during a post-law-school year spent in Louisiana clerking for a federal judge, and the Bush administration’s callous (non-)response to the storm broke my heart. I wanted to help out, but I didn’t fly helicopters or know how to do anything useful in a disaster, so just I sat glued to the coverage and fumed — until FEMA asked federal employees to volunteer to help. I jumped at the chance.
Soon, I was involved with a task force trying to rebuild (and reform) the city’s criminal justice system. Growing up hating racism, I was appalled but not very surprised to find overt racism and the obvious use of racist code words by officials in the Deep South.
Then something tiny happened that pried open my eyes to the less obvious forms of racism and the hurdles the poor face when they try to climb the economic ladder. It happened on an official visit to a school in a suburb of New Orleans that served kids who had gotten kicked out of every other school around. I was investigating what types of services were available to the young people who were showing up in juvenile hall and seemed to be headed toward the proverbial life of crime.
My tour guide mentioned that parents were required to participate in some school programs. One of these was a field trip to a sit-down restaurant.
This stopped me in my tracks. I thought: What kind of a lame field trip is that?
It turned out that none of the families had ever been to a sit-down restaurant before. The teachers had to instruct parents and students alike how to order off a menu, how to calculate the tip.
I was stunned.
Tavis Smiley interviews Ben Stein on the election and the economy.
Just One More Thing…
I don’t particularly care for Bill Clinton.
And I’m not talking about taking some sort of Monica Lewinsky-inspired cheap shot, of the sort that Fox News analysts trotted out last night in the guise of analysis.
No, when I think about his campaigns and his presidency, I think of his utter failure with regard to the Rwandan genocide. And about 1996 Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act. And Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. And the execution of Ricky Ray Rector.
This isn’t exactly highlight reel material and Clinton knows it … at least when it comes to some of these things. And so I’m a little put off by the hagiography of Clinton that I’ve seen all over the internet for the past days. It’s particularly tiresome because it paints Clinton as some sort of savior when in reality his presidency ran into many of the same kinds of critiques from progressives that are leveled against President Obama today.
But, as I discussed with my students at the beginning of class today, none of that really impacts my ability to recognize that his speech last night was masterful. As someone who cares about making arguments — and who is committed to teaching my students about how to judge whether or not they are clear and compelling — I have to recognize one of the best examples of political argumentation I’ve heard when I hear it.
It doesn’t hurt, of course, that the argument he made was one that buttresses a) many of the policies I support and b) a vision of a political community I endorse. But it’s noteworthy that many of the conservatives with whom I regularly interact online also recognized the fine quality of Clinton’s speech as it was happening. And I feel pretty confident that I could applaud a well-constructed argument by a conservative politician if I heard one.
Of course, all of the above is also why I hoped — rightly, it turned out — that live-tweeting the Fox “analysis” of the speech last night would be comedy gold. That network is firmly committed to the idea that Clinton couldn’t possible have given a powerful or effective speech, and so it was no surprise that they offered a series of lame critiques of a speech that millions and millions of people recognized as both entertaining and compelling. And, of course, it’s not a huge surprise that the Fox-News-ification of the Republican party has many thoughtful conservatives feeling pretty despondent.
Ann’s battle with MS would have been a great platform to explain what kind of healthcare plan Mitt foresees for the future of America. What is he going to do for people like me who came out of pocket to the tune of $22,000 in one year for healthcare? What about those who had to do without? What about job creation? Economic stimulus? Border security? Education? Senior care? Restructuring the NCAA BCS playoff system? I mean, throw us a bone Ann. Give me something so that I can find some commonality betwixt Team Romney and 90% of the nation?
As she stood there in her silk-suited, blond-haired, Botoxed glory; I shook my head. Bless her entitled heart. She doesn’t get it. She shared some story about her and Mitt eating tuna fish in a basement apartment but um ur - you both came from families of means. If you are walking a tightrope that is only one foot off the ground with a safety net, restraints and a paramedic on standby - that’s not struggle. Look, I don’t need an “up from the streetz” story to get behind you, but I need you to say something that resonates. Hell, I didn’t come from struggle. I’m not looking for an up-by-the-bootstraps story, I’m looking to see what you did with the boot once it was on your foot.
If her job was to keep Mitt from looking like Richie Rich sitting on stacks while the rest of us are trying to making a dollar out of fifteen cents - she failed miserably. If her job was to tell us how awesome being in love with a rich successful man who loves you back is, she wins.
But is that all you got? Alright then. I believe Mitt would make a great President… of the neighborhood association of whatever gated community they live in. And that’s where he and his lovely wife Ann should stay.
The Five Reasons Why Romney/Ryan Must be Defeated in 2012, and Why Conservatives Should Hope They Are
Today, for Republicans, up is down and front is back. Lying has become so ingrained into the conservatives’ national dialogue that they are now dangerously demagogic or, worse, severely unhinged. Blind rage at the election of Barack Obama has wrecked a once great political party. Its leaders have made so many deals with the devil in their almost pathological obsession with unseating Obama that they have pushed the GOP into its own version of political hell – unable to speak truths to their now-rabid and conspiracy-addled base and unable to right the party back onto a path of responsibility.