Thursday, December 30, 2004


I like Barack Obama. Who could dislike that happy little fellow? Who could ignore a name like BarackObama, which seems destined to climb to great heights. You don't name a fellow Barack Obama unless you expect him to attain greatness and surmount that terribly funny name. Probably no one in the political world would pay any attention to him if his name were Joe Jones.

Names do matter. They are the first thing we know about any person, the first impression we get. Take Gwynneth Paltrow, who named her baby Apple. Naturally, Apple will be expected to be pink-cheeked and All-American. There's no getting around it.

As the owner of a very strange name, I was amazed to find that there are so many other Hermas in the world, undoubtedly afflicted with the same horrible jokes and spelling problems that I have suffered. They, too, have been labeled Irma, Erma, Homa, Hema, Hernia, Herman, and Hermy. They, too, have had to spell their name countless times.

But, back to my subject, I have one problem with Barack Obama. He is just so damned reasonable. Where politics are concerned, I do not want conciliation and reasonable cooperation. I want complete and absolute affirmation that my views are correct and the views of others are all wrong. There is no backing down from my stance. I am a very sore loser and have considered going into this professionally. There must be a use for my kind of stubbornness somewhere.

To explain my feelings, I am still angry because John Kerry "conceded". What is this "concession" business? In my book, one never gives in. If you win over me, you have to punch me in the nose and drag me out by my hair, but you will never get a concession. Poor folks like me don't concede, we just keep trying to survive, to keep the wolf from the door, to make that pound of hamburger stretch a little further. Conceding is almost certain death. We just don't believe in it.

At first, I had high hopes for John Kerry. He was an intellectual, a thinker, a war hero with the courage to rebel against the very war he fought in. I thought he would be a fighter, a man who would come out swinging. It's for sure he wouldn't have had to invent anything to say against George Bush. George was making so many mistakes, invention was unnecessary.

But, no, time proved that John Kerry had the fighting capacity of Elmer Fudd. He tried to be civil. Even the Swift Boat Ads didn't raise his ire. He poked along and always avoided the fire and brimstone anger that George Bush deserved. Howard Dean had frightened him away from any outward show of anger. But what he didn't realize is that, out in the country, there were many folks who agreed with Dean, who didn't want a watered-down candidate who would be pummeled by the Karl Rove forces behind Bush.

Where was that angry young soldier who fought so valiantly against an unfair and useless war? Where was the courage that gave him the strength to take on Richard Nixon, that weasel of a fellow who called the FBI into the act? Did that strong John Kerry fade away when he was introduced to wealth and prosperity? Was there no ghost of that courage lingering for a harsh campaign? Did the spirit of that young soldier whisper into the ear of the middle-aged Senator?Or did he not want to upset a fellow Skull and Boner?

Anyway, we know the story. No sense in going over it, again and again, but I am highly irritated by those who sit around thinking of ways the Democratic Party could change. Change? What we need is the good old Democratic Party that stood up to the bureaucrats and the corporate greedy grabbers and said, "Look, no fool should work for minimum wage while you porkers retire with a goldmine!" That's the Democratic Party I know and understand, the one that fought for the working man, the one that screamed about presidential lying and torture in prisons and unnecessary wars and people reduced to wearing cheap Chinese shoes because they can't make enough to buy anything else.

I come from a generation where workers and scabs met on bridges and duked it out, where decent wages were demanded and received after the average man got together with others just like himself and forced the issue. I come from a generation that brought the American worker up from a pit of despair to a rather decent living, and it's difficult to see the whole thing sliding away, with so many people cheering its demise.

The truth is, Democrats have been delivered a kick in the gut. The Republican Party, formerly moderate, has slid so far to the right that they firmly believe the Lord is on their side and that the Democrats are evil incarnate. They don't want to be fair. They don't want to be democratic, or understanding, or even American. They want to be right. They want to take over the government with this radical religious notion that God is leading a crusade against the evildoers and that their religion is the only one to be recognized. With this belief, they rationalize wars, corruption and presidential behavior that in any other circumstances would bring about impeachment or at least resignation.

John Kerry went through his campaign and barely mentioned Abu Ghraib. It seemed to be totally ignored, this abomination that smeared us in the eyes of the world, that was being blamed on a few young soldiers when everyone knew this kind of thing was approved from the top down. Not a word about this from John Kerry.

He didn't hammer on the fact that Bush started the Iraq War on misinformation, that he became chummy with Chalabi and thought we'd be welcomed in Iraq by hugs and cheers, that he thought the war was over when he made his Mission Accomplished speech! Not a word!

There was very little thundering indignation from John Kerry. And, in the meantime, thundering indignation was a staple of the Republican diet, as they claimed Kerry was no hero, Kerry wasn't capable, a flip-flopper, etc. etc.

Well, it's over now. I actually believe the election was manipulated, especially in certain key states, but I also think the John Kerry missed the boat in many ways. If he had come out swinging and displayed a little more forceful leadership and a little less civil compromise, it might have made more of an impression. If that angry young rebel soldier had reappeared, perhaps more people would have listened.

I cannot help but suspect that Kerry was the wrong candidate, that perhaps Howard Dean should have been selected. Both men may try again, but then we have to watch Obama. I have my doubts there, too, because I doubt that reasonable affability and good-natured personality will win against the moral indignation stirred up like a cauldron of witches' brew by the Republican Party.

Perhaps the most we can hope for is that the moderates in the Republican Party will grab hold once again and a more acceptable choice, like Arnold, will win his chance. Schwarzenegger is a Democrat in Republican clothing, so he would be a welcome change from Bush.

Actually, things look pretty dismal for the Democrats these days. With social programs floundering, with healthcare a dead issue, with church deacons claiming the Lord is behind George Bush, with well-paying jobs scarce, there is little hope unless that charismatic, forceful leader emerges from the shadows to give them that needed boost.

Talk ineffectual. Talk bland. Talk totally unfocused. That is the Democratic Party today and unless we go back to our representation of the common working family and become a little angry over the actions of the Republican destroyers, we will not be successful. We have to take the word liberal and make it a proud label once again. And we're not going to do it with these namby-pamby, frightened, mealy-mouthed Middle-of-The-Roaders. We're going to have to fight openly and hard, fully intending to kick ass. Civility has nothing to do with it. As Bob Dole said, "This is Hard Ball!"