Politics Wednesday – So Long, Mr. Santorum, and Good Riddance

I actually respect the public reason given for why Rick Santorum quit the race for the Republican presidential nomination. Parents need to be with a child they know will never make it to adolescence, not to mention adulthood. I respect him for wanting to make his ill child’s life full and happy for however long she will be with that family. There is nothing more devastating to a parent than to lose a child, and knowing since her birth that you were going to lose her, that your time with her would be short, is unfathomable.

I won’t even mention the months the family has been on the campaign trail, other, home-schooled children in tow, while Bella remained at home in the care of others.

Well, you knew the snark had to come in an some point.

In truth, campaigns are exhausting and debilitating for not just the candidate, and Bella was better off at home and not exposed to those rigors.

I don’t respect what’s probably the reason behind Santorum’s “suspension of my campaign,” which is that he was about to be rejected again by his home state. Rick, nobody thinks well of a quitter, especially one who quits when he knows he’s going to lose. Just a few weeks ago, he had a commanding lead over Willard Mitt Romney, a lead significant enough to encourage him to stay in the race and prolong it. As Republicans began to accept The Inevitable Romney, that lead shrank, then Santorum lagged behind Romney. Despite that hard shell of sanctimonious judging Santorum surrounds himself with, that had to hurt.

Of course, Santorum’s exit just encourages Newt Gingrich, who has vowed to stay in until Tampa, though what good it will do him is beyond me. Oh, wait. It’s no longer a campaign. It’s an extended book-selling, picture-with-Newt-and-Callista-selling tour, funded by people deluded enough to think Gingrich cares about them.

Ron Paul is still just your eccentric grandfather you wish you could relegate to a locked room in the house where no one can hear his backwards, racist ranting and worship of Ayn Rand. (Didja figure out why his senator son’s first name is Rand?)

And now we have the Inevitable Mitt, who stayed in his place in line, dutifully, like most Republicans, and waited his turn. Some people think this Republican penchant for “bide your time, and it’ll be your go” is somehow orderly and logical. At one time it was, but when the Republican Party was co-opted by first the pro-lifers (an oxymoron if I ever heard one) then by the wiggy Tea Party, from your perspective in line, you decide you have to lurch right as well. That’s why we got to hear Romney say he’s always been a “severe Republican.” No, Mitt, you haven’t. You were indistinguishable in some areas from a liberal Democrat, except for the whole Bain Capital, make a gazillion dollars and hide it in off-shore accounts thing.

Democrats are more like a pinball machine–bouncing from the likes of Carter to Dukakis to Mondale to Clinton to Gore to Kerry to Obama. Republicans always sneered at the disorganization (their term) of the Democratic Party, but from chaos we got President Obama, and that’s enough for me and a lot of like-minded people.

Over the weekend, when rumors of Santorum’s exit stirred, someone suggested that he should wait as all good Republicans do because in “eight years” he’ll still be younger than Romney is now. (The pundit’s assumption was that we’d have two Romney terms–fat chance of that.) After eight years, what will an older, more judgemental, more self-righteous Santorum look like? I shudder to think–except that he’ll have morphed into some Gollum-like creature no one can stomach, and that’ll be a good thing.

So, Republican Party, how’s that whole inevitability thing working for ya?

My thoughts go out to little Bella Santorum, that she may have a happy life without pain or suffering. She is the best of them.

Politics Wednesday – Rhetorical (or not) Questions

Why is it that the health care mandate is infringing upon our freedom but forcing a woman to have a medically unnecessary ultrasound is not?

Why does health insurance cover the cost of Viagra but not birth control? Or vasectomies but not tubal ligations?

Why would we entertain the presidency of a man who needs a car elevator in his oceanside mansion in California?

Why would Rick Santorum call Romney the “worst possible Republican to run against Barack Obama” one day then concede he’d do whatever the country needed for him to do when asked if he’d be Romney’s VEEP?

Why did Justice Clarence Thomas “forget” to include his wife’s income from various right-wing, anti-health care organizations on his financial disclosure statements when the documents clearly ask for that information? Ancillary question: Why wasn’t he disciplined for that? Second ancillary question: Why hasn’t he recused himself? Third ancillary question: Why doesn’t he ever speak during oral arguments?

Did Medicare pay for Dick Cheney’s heart implant? (No, that’s not a typo.) If so, do the Republicans (especially Rep. Paul Ryan) know that?

Can George Zimmerman sleep at night, knowing he stalked and killed a 17-year old holding a can of Arizona Tea and a bag of Skittles? No, seriously, how does he live with himself?

Why does anyone with a vagina support Republicans?

When did conservatives decide being mean, vindictive, and hateful was an election strategy?

Why are we still fighting two wars and contemplating others, because, you know, the others have been so successful? (That was sarcasm.)

Why do people who call themselves Christians act so un-Christ-like to other religions or to Atheists?

Why do Republicans lie about, well, just about anything?

Why does a Presidential candidate need a lobbyist to get his house plans approved by a local government entity?

Has Newt Gingrich forgotten what hypocrisy means? Or does he really just believe that we should listen to him and ignore his actions, past and present?

Is Ron Paul really that cantankerous or is it an act?

Since Rick Santorum is a devout, practicing Catholic who believes that sex is only for the purpose of procreation, have he and his wife stopped having sex? Same question for Newt and Callista.

Don’t you think people who are sanctimonious about religion should be above reproach or else just shut up about it?

Since when did having a college education, something that the Greatest Generation fought to assure for their children, make you a snob?

Why was an Iraq vet who asked a perfectly legitimate question of a Republican governor called an idiot? Is this how we’re supposed to treat the people whose asses were actually in danger while your large posterior occupied any number of creaking chairs?

Why are we blaming an article of clothing for the death of a 17 year-old youth instead of the man who put a 9 mm round in his chest for the audacity of walking in a gated community? Why isn’t anyone talking about the fact that if black Trayvon Martin had shot and killed white George Zimmerman, Martin would be in jail now or, more likely, would have been shot by the police responding to the 9-1-1 calls?

Why do I persist in asking questions that only upset me and should upset you?

Because someone has to.

A Woman for all Seasons

I had to take time to process that we lost Geraldine Ferraro, and I still find it hard to believe that the vibrant, active woman who stood toe-to-toe with George H. W. Bush in the Vice Presidential debate (She belonged there, and she knew it.), who sparred brilliantly with the idiots at Fox News, who told multiple generations of women that a woman as President was achievable, is gone.

The utter excitement I felt when Walter Mondale selected her as his running mate was beyond words for me. Yet, it’s still amazing to me that even in 1984–that infamous year–having a woman running mate wasn’t just a novelty, it was a first. She maintained her dignity through all the sexist hoopla, the nasty political cartoons that lampooned her gender, the bogus campaign slogan “Fritz and Tits,” and she was an excellent campaigner. I wasn’t as excited about Mondale as I was about Ferraro, but I thought at last we have our foot in the door at the highest levels of politics.

I was furious with Barbara Bush–frankly, I’ve never been an admirer–during her interview with Connie Chung. The whole tenor of the interview was an unspoken “how dare this woman challenge my husband.” When asked what she thought of Ferraro, the first woman on a Presidential slate, Bush could have, should have said, “What a tremendous step forward for women!” What she actually said was, “I can’t say it, but it rhymes with rich.” Bush insisted she meant witch, not bitch, but I think we know exactly which she meant. To her credit Bush indicated years later that she had apologized to Ferraro about the remark.

Ferraro had a life of public service, starting as a teacher. After becoming a lawyer, she was an assistant District Attorney in New York. She created a special victims unit that handled cases involving crimes against children and the elderly as well as sexual abuse and domestic violence cases. First elected to Congress in 1978, she rose quickly in the Democratic party and earned the reputation of being an outspoken critic of Reagonomics. Passage of the Equal Rights Amendment was something for which she fought tirelessly, even in the face of obvious defeat. She had hope before it became pop culture.

Ferraro brought energy to that 1984 campaign, but she and Mondale were up against the incumbents Reagan and Bush. However, she treated every speech and every event as if she and Fritz Mondale had a chance. In probably the sleaziest act in that campaign, when her opponents’ party didn’t want to attack her head on and appear sexist, they went at her through her husband’s financial affairs. (It turns out he did have some shady business dealings, namely fraudulently obtaining financing for a real estate venture. He pled guilty and served 150 hours of community service. A later indictment and trial for bribery resulted in acquittal.)

After that campaign Ferraro brought her energy and drive to journalism and other issues, especially human rights. She tried twice to become a senator from New York. One race was dogged again by questions about her husband’s finances, and she lost by a narrow margin. On another occasion she lost in the primaries for the nomination. Speculation was that she had stayed away from politics too long, but that was when politics in this country started to become particularly nasty. I think she was too good a person to lower herself to that kind of mud. In 2008, she was a Hillary Clinton supporter and advisor, but when she pointed out that America could accept an African-American President more than a woman President, charges of racism arose. As with many things, her remarks were taken out of context, but it cost her a place in Clinton’s campaign and the vast contributions she could have made to the Obama Administration.

Geraldine Ferraro was intelligent, dedicated, and did not suffer fools lightly. She was a woman I admired greatly, and I had the privilege of attending several functions where she was the speaker. I will never forget her sense of humor, her outrage at injustice, and her steadfast support of her ideals. This is a loss to all Americans, but especially to us “first generation” of political feminists who saw in her possible election such hope for the future, a future not yet fulfilled.

And a note to the half-governor of Alaska: You did not stand on her shoulders. She wouldn’t have let you. She would have taken you aside and pointed out just what your failings are; namely, you’re no Geraldine Ferraro and never will be.