Shakespeare wrote that misery makes for strange bedfellows, and you could say the same about a shared antipathy for Donald Trump. Certainly, ten years ago I wouldn’t have imagined myself sharing a bunk with Washington Post columnist Jennifer Rubin or former Republican strategist Rick Wilson, but that was then, and this is now.
Now, as it turns out, these never Trumpers and I share something in common: the wish to see the US remain a representative democracy rather than devolving into a Putin-like kleptocracy run by a former WWE promoter and reality TV snake oil salesman whose mendacity makes Pinocchio look like Marcus Aurelias in comparison.
The much-heralded midterm tsunami has ended up looking like, in the words of Twitter wit Serenity Now, “some mid-cycle spotting,” so Rick Wilson is “staring down into the Valley of Schadenfreude, overlooking the beautiful Lake of MAGA Tears and inhaling the sweet smoke of incinerated personal and corporate billions of dollars that went to dead-enders better suited for an asylum than office.”
Now that’s what I call some postgame trash talking.
Of course, we’re not out of the Disenchanted Forest yet. Trump will probably announce his candidacy Tuesday, Joe Biden is about as popular as a DMV, and voter suppression is a real danger.
Nevertheless, things could have been a whole hell of a lot worse, so fa la la la live for today.
Be thankful (if you’re not reading this from Russia) that the cosmic crap throw of innumerable permutations of space/time has landed you in a nation that doesn’t ambush males lounging in neighborhood saloons, drag their startled selves to recruitment centers, and in less than a week, transport their untrained asses to the killing fields of the front lines as cannon fodder in an idiotic war instigated by a short-of-stature Napoleon wanna-be.
It would be nice if my fellow Americans (especially elected Republican representatives and senators) would take the long view and recognize so-called strong men (i.e., authoritarian rulers) short circuit collaboration, gum up the machine of government with ego, and therefore create dysfunctional nations, because, just saying, not only are two heads better than one, but a few hundred heads are even better than two.
It’s not as if the Trump administration functioned as a well-oiled drama free machine, as if the Donald possesses a vision that extends beyond his next iPhone notification. Oh sure, if Trump were president, he would have magically insulated the U.S. from the universal phenomenon of global inflation. [Cue the Lovin’ Spoonful]: Do you believe in magic? Do you believe in the heresy of evangelicals; do you believe the rantings of a damaged girdle-sporting narcissist who wears more make-up than Mae West in her Myra Breckinridge days?
Alas, power trumps decency. Lindsey Graham and Tim Scott and the rest of them will keep their cowardly lips sealed. Look what happened to Liz Cheney. There is – no offense Jesus – short term profit in the forfeiture of one’s soul.
Double alas, propaganda can be effective, especially when targeting the under-educated, so I’m expecting that even despite the January 6 Committee’s powerful case that Donald Trump and his minions attempted to sabotage via coup the peaceful transfer of power in the United States of America, that Donald Trump (aided and abetted by state legislatures) will be elected as POTUS in 2024.
We, to quote one of my TTC students from 1978, “done gone cruzy.”
 So far this year, the blog has 24 hits from Russia, so it’s possible.
 Diagram that goddamn sentence grammar technicians.
Perhaps modeled on Josh Hawley’s raised fist on 6 January as the Senator from Missouri manfully strode past the soon-to-be insurrectionists, Donald Trump has in recent days been photographed clenching and raising his Pinocchio-sized paws in an obscene appropriation of the Black Power salute of the 1960s.
This gesture has replaced the two-thumbs up pose Trump favored in those halcyon days before the confiscation of classified documents he had stolen from the National Archives, those relatively placid days of mere impeachment, Congressional hearings, attempted election overthrowing, and income tax evasion.
I mean, come on. Trump’s ripping off the iconography of Huey Newton and Bobby Seale is sort of like Vladimir Putin twisting his legs into the lotus position and reciting the Sermon on the Mount.
I mean, you raise your fist to defy the Man, not to spur on a latter-day incarnation of the KKK.
Donald Trump and Josh Hawley are the Man, in favor of teargassing peaceful Black protesters.
“Why can’t you just shoot them? Just shoot them in the legs or something?” Trump asked his Secretary of Defense Mark Esper.
Not Power to the People but Power to the Elite.
Brat Power, not People Power.
 The irony is not lost on me that I’m quoting a fascist poet here, doing in a lesser sense what I’m accusing Trump and Hawley of doing.
 Of course, Hawley’s jogging exit from the capitol during the riot was not, shall we say, the stuff of the traditional Western hero, not the stuff of Hercules – or Andy of Mayberry for that matter.
When examining adult pathologies, the Freudian in me wants to hop into Mr. Peabody’s Way Back Machine and check out the childhoods of the damaged adults who have perked my curiosity. For example, I’ve read South Carolina’s most prolific mass murderer Donald “Pee Wee” Gaskins’s autobiography where he describes being hung upside down naked as a boy and walloped by a tag team of fucked-up parents. This abuse obviously contributed the sadism that characterized the hundred or so murders he committed.
Another pathological Donald, the 45th President of the United States, also suffered a lovelorn childhood. His father Fred taught him, to quote Patrice Taddonio’s profile from Frontline, that “there were only two kinds of people in this world: winners — or ‘killers’ — and losers.”
Mary Trump, the President’s niece, claims that Trump’s mother “essentially abandoned” him, so the parents shipped the 13-year-old off to a military school that became for the next 5 years a sort of bullying bootcamp. There, to quote Marc Fisher, a co-author of Trump Revealed, “ Donald Trump yelled at his classmates. He pushed them around [… ] He ruled dormitory life with an iron fist.”
Which brings me to Trump enabler Lindsey Graham, who last night attempted to pivot from Trump in a cringe-worthy post-insurrection speech from the Capitol, a speech that might be described as jocular in tone, and what better time to yuk it up than in the aftermath of an Animal House like coup, or if you prefer, a Beer Belly putsch.
Graham’s devotion to John McCain while McCain was living is well-documented, as is Graham’s abandonment of his mentor’s maverick ethos once the senior Senator from South Carolina became Trump’s number-one toady. Now that Trump’s about to leave the White House, whether through a traditional exit or via the 25th Amendment or impeachment, it seems as if Graham is once again metamorphosizing.
If you recall, Georgia’s Republican Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger cited Graham’s pressuring him to adjust Georgia’s vote tallies as the reason he decided to record Trump’s recent call to, um, adjust Georgia’s vote tallies. However, suddenly now Lindsey’s flattering Hunter Biden’s dad.
So what are we amateur psychologists to make of Lindsey Graham’s protean transformations from moderate McCain acolyte to fascistic Trump enabler, and now, it would seem, back into a more moderate political persona?
Is there something in his childhood to explain these permutations?
Graham, according to his 2015 memoir, grew up in a segregated establishment called the “Sanitary Café,” sleeping in a room behind the bar, “sharing a bathroom with patrons who worked down the street at a nearby mill plant [. . . ] [taking] baths with water heated up on the stove.” Despite the privation, he seems to have fond memories of his younger years, considering the regulars at the bar “his extended family.” In school he was a mediocre student and athlete but, according to the memoir, scored an 800 on the SAT.
He seems, unlike the two Donalds, to have had a positive relationship with his parents, who died within a year of each other when he was 21 and 22, leaving Lindsey as the guardian of his 13-year-old sister, whom he looked after with love and attention. Although he’s never successfully cultivated a long-term romantic relationship, Graham has imagined to achieve, at least resume-wise, a life of admirable achievement.
Perhaps Graham, having lost his father at a relatively early age, has sought the friendship of powerful older men, first McCain 19 years Graham’s senior and then Trump, 9 years his senior, but I doubt it.
Maybe he’s being blackmailed by Trump.
Or maybe he has only himself to blame. Like so many politicians, he seems to lack the ability to self-scrutinize, to apologize for shortcomings, to rein in his arrogance.
Whatever the case, “The evil that men do lives after them./ The good is oft interred with their bones.” What profit a man, etc.
 [TRIGGER WARNING! Don’t read this footnote if you possess a delicate sensibility] Peewee: “Next thing I knew, they [Pee Wee and Marsh’s stepfathers] was dragging Marsh and me to the barn. They stripped Marsh first — roped his ankles together and threw rope over a joist and strung him-up upside down, then his mama commenced to paddling him with a pine slat. Soon his ass was bleeding, and then she told his step daddy to whup him with his belt [. . .] Then it was my turn to be strung up naked. I felt the pine board splitting my butt; then my step-daddy (sic) stropped me with his belt like I hadn’t never been stropped before.
 Alas, I can’t claim these witticisms as my own. I copped the Animal House analogy from my friend Jake Williams and “Beer Belly Putsch” from my friend and former student Alex Werrell.
 If you recall, Graham, seeking Trumpian approval, called for Congressional investigations into Hunter Biden.
I wondered the other day is there’s even such a thing as “conservative poets” anymore.
Well, it didn’t take me long to discover an anthology entitled The Conservative Poets: A Contemporary Anthology, edited by William Baer, who offers this estimation of the contemporary literary landscape:
Although it often seems that liberals and the radical Left have assumed complete hegemony over the arts, especially the literary arts, there exists a remnant of very talented American poets who create beautiful, serious, witty, moving, and diverse poetry from a conservative point of view. This unique anthology illustrates the wide range of these determined and sometimes defiant artists, who hope that their work will encourage more like-minded Americans to learn the poetic craft and pursue the literary endeavor.
By the way, Baer is a genuine scholar. Here’s his bio from Amazon:
WILLIAM BAER is the author of ten books, including ” ‘Borges’ and Other Sonnets”; “Fourteen on Form: Conversations with Poets”; “Luis de Camoes: Selected Sonnets”; and “Writing Metrical Poetry”. The Founding editor of “The Formalist: A Journal of Metrical Poetry” (1990-2004), he is currently the director of the Richard Wilbur Poetry Series, the poetry editor and film critic for “Crisis,” and a contributing editor to “Measure.”
Here’s a screenshot of the table of contents.
I tried to track down some of these poets, only to discover most had, to quote Richard Wilbur himself, “gone from this rotten/Taxable world to a standard of higher living.” The late Marion Montgomery’s “While Waiting: Lines for a Lady Suffragette, Standing on a Bus” certainly seems to adhere in some ways to an antifeminist’s view of what Montgomery might call the “fair sex.”
Ah, Lady. Ah. It is a stirring sight.
Franchisement by the gods is now complete.
You now have won the inalienable right
Of standing on your own two feet.
Alas, Montgomery checked out of this Motel 6 of Sorrow in the penultimate year of W’s second term, so it would not be accurate to name him as a conservative poet writing today.
Editor Baer in his preface admits that most of the anthologized poems’ conservatism lies in their traditional forms rather than politics, but adds, “Some, myself included, would even tend to see meter as a poetic representation of the provident order of God’s universe.”
So I continued my search and found a website from 2016 called Scholars & Writers for America. Beneath its banner this: “Given our choices in the presidential election, we believe that Donald J. Trump is the candidate most likely to restore the promise of America, and we urge you to support him as we do.”
Scrolling down my screen past names like Burton W Folsom, Jr., author of The Myth of the Robber Barons and Steve Mosher of the Population Research Institute looking for a poets or novelists, I discovered, to my delight, at the bottom of the screen, Thomas C McCollum, novelist.
Here’s the second paragraph of text from McCollum’s website, from an article by Louise Cook, the editor of Absolute Marbella Magazine:
If one were to view all aspects of Thomas McCollum’s professional and avocational life, one might be very tempted to call him a Renaissance man–albeit with a strong entrepreneurial bent. Wisely McCollum leaves all such pretentions to others, preferring the doing rather than the talking about.
What follows is a most-interesting-man-in-the-world litany: Can-Am racing, bull running in Pamplona [Spain she helpfully adds], man-eating crocodile hunting, a golf-addiction, insurance sales, original pen and ink drawings street-corner sales, med-school matriculation, med-school abandonment, medical laboratory founding, medical laboratory selling, retirement to Marbella, Spain, “to live out all the fantasies of his youth. He has camped, safaried, and traveled to every continent on earth.”
McCollum has published four novels: Whipsocket, Tainted Blood, Palmer Lake, and Uncle Norm.
Here are the first and last sentences from Publisher Weekly’s review of Tainted Blood.
Readers willing to suspend disbelief beyond belief may find McCollum’s first novel an interesting medical thriller; others will be dismayed by characters manipulated by incredible plot contrivances.
McCollum makes the medical details microscopically authentic, but too many standard diatribes against government agencies, characters who speak polemic as often as they do dialogue and a conclusion that’s painfully anticlimactic render a hot topic tepid. (my italics)
Now compare that MSM review to this one for Uncle Norm from Christopher Feigum, Grammy Award winner and Metropolitan Opera Singer:
“Thomas McCollum has delivered a book of operatic proportions…a tale full of intrigue that tempts us to explore the what ifs of life and the possibility of encountering one profound love. Whether he is delighting pygmies with donuts or sharing his smuggled discoveries along the way, Uncle Norm is a warm, comical hero deeply connected to his fellow lost soul in the Congo, Ottobah Cuguano, and their shared faith in everlasting friendship. As they strive to break down racial barriers and transform the world, their adventures amaze the restless traveler in all of us. This timely piece is a declaration that we each have the choice to leave behind a better place than we found.”
Oh, yeah. There is also this snippet from of all places, Publisher’s Weekly describing Tainted Blood: “an interesting thriller…McCollum makes the adventure microscopically authentic.” Hmmm. “an interesting thriller . . . microscopically authentic.” Where have I seen that before?
So anyway, if you happen to be a Trump supporter who feels somewhat culturally isolated, there are indeed “conservative” literary artists out there working today, maybe not on the analogous level of Jon Voight and Bruce Willis, but they are out there.
 I don’t mean conservative in the old-fashioned sense of embracing traditional values and being skeptical of innovation, like Alexander Pope, but in its contemporary sense of someone rejects the Enlightenment and institutions of liberal democracy.
If you look at poll numbers devoted to the current US Presidential race, a couple of statistics seem especially noteworthy. Men overwhelmingly support Trump, women Biden, and by wide margins, non-college educated whites prefer Trump over Slow/Sleepy Joe Hiden.
Now, I’m not suggesting that not having graduated from a college means a voter is unintelligent. Shakespeare, Yeats, Faulkner, nor Hemingway graduated from a college or university. I myself am a graduate-school dropout, and despite that the school where I taught for thirty-four years offered to pay my way for a Masters, I declined, despite the salary increase and enhanced status an advanced degree would bring.
On the other hand, most non-anti-intellectuals would agree that college provides an opportunity intellectually to expand one’s horizons. Potemkin Villages, McCarthyism (co-starring Roy Cohn), wintertime invasions of Russia/USSR, statistical analysis, deductive and inductive logic, cultural anthropology, quantum mechanics, ecological biology, etc. are subjects not necessarily covered in high school, or if covered, not in depth. For example, if you knew that Trump’s personal lawyer in the 1980s, Roy Cohn, was once Joseph McCarthy’s righthand man and spearheaded the Red Scare of the 1950s, you might be a bit more skeptical when Trump or one of his minions accuses the Democrats of McCarthyism.
I sometimes wonder if being a Trump supporter is culturally isolating. I mean, none of the late-night comedians can abide him; virtually every world class musician files a lawsuit whenever one of his or her tunes blasts from speakers at a Trump rally. The artists who support Trump tend to be B-listers at best, like James Woods, Nick Nolte, Ted Nugent, and Kid Rock. Is the fact that our most celebrated actors, musicians and comedians – Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, Bruce Springsteen and Barbra Streisand, Stephen Colbert and Amy Schumer, e.g. – support Biden over Trump a product of undergraduate brainwashing or a sign of a sophisticated world view? I recently received an invitation to join a group called Writers for Biden, and I’m trying to imagine who would be spearheading a group called Writers for Trump. The poet Billy Collins once told me he didn’t know of any poet who would be willing to read at the Inauguration of George W Bush. I suspect that’s even more so in the case of Donald J Trump.
I will say that Trump has been very successful in creating a cult of personality, as some pictorial depictions of him suggest, echoing, if you will, the enhanced physical renderings of charismatic leaders of yore.
The truth is that if you buy the argument that the man in heels with dyed blonde hair and orange make-up pictured below is walking through the consequences of a future Biden Administration, you should perhaps consider enrolling in a class devoted to logical fallacies.
 If you think Trump’s nicknames for his enemies are clever, chances are you dropped out of school in the 6th grade.
 Easy trivia question: Which of the above worthies did not receive the Nobel Prize for Literature?
Zdzislaw Belsinski AE73 (or Tucker Carlson’s Vision of the Third Year of the Biden Presidency)
The day before yesterday, 29 June 2020, the Supreme Court struck down a Louisiana law that severely limited access to legal abortions. In addition, US intelligence officials confirmed that in February Donald Trump received a briefing that warned Russia may be contracting members of the Taliban to murder US soldiers serving in Afghanistan. However, despite the newsworthiness of these events, neither was the lead story of the day. That honor went to King Coronavirus, who continues his conquest of the Deep South in a podunk revival of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Masque of the Red Death.”
After supper, to catch up on the news of the day, my wife Caroline and I watched CNN’s Anderson Cooper. He presented an acerbic take on the Trump Administration’s attempts to spin a shitshow of Stygian proportions into a triumph of leadership. Trump’s spokesperson Kayleigh McEnany described the 40,000 new US cases (an 80% increase over the last fourteen days) as a “few embers” in the Administration’s successful campaign to contain the disease. I didn’t hear her opine on the SCOTUS decision, but she did claim that Trump hadn’t been briefed on the Russian sponsored bounty hunters, an obvious lie that now has been refuted by multiple sources.
I wonder how Fox News is spinning this,” I asked Caroline.
“I wonder,” she said. “Let’s check it out.”
So, I reached for the remote, scrolled downward on the guide, landed on Fox News, and hit the button. There before me, looking nervously out of sorts, appeared Tucker Carlson.
Let’s see if I can conjure my inner Henry James:
Mr. Tucker Carson, once a boyish presence on cable television, is now beginning to show the wear and tear of nights spent in the garish glare of klieg lighting, his visage crowned by an abundance of hair, brown in color and wavy in texture, his face dominated by two rather small eyes staring straight ahead above a mouth that is thin-lipped and turned ever so slightly downward in what appears to be the onset of a frown.
(Sorry about that. I’m rereading James now, and the fits and starts of his formal prose are messing with my thought patterns, bric-a-brac-ing my syntax, de-bebopping the funkification of my everyday speech).
Anyway, Tucker’s lead story dealt with a married couple from St. Louis who rushed out of their palatial home like a Talbots-clad Bonnie and Clyde, the husband, sporting a pink tucked-in polo shirt and brandishing what looked like an assault weapon, his wife wearing white-and-blue horizonal stripes and waving a handgun with her finger actually on the trigger, a gun safety no-no.
Why? It seems that a contingent of protesters had breached the borders of their private neighborhood. In the never-ending loop of video accompanying the story, the protesters seemed scant and, as the President might say, “low energy.” However, to the Talbots, they were a mob set to burn down their house. “How could you burn something like that down?” Caroline wondered aloud, noting it looked more like a bank than a house. It seems the protesters were searching for the Mayor’s house and may have mistaken the Talbots as his.
Like I said, this was Tucker’s lead story – not King Coronavirus, not the SCOTUS ruling, not the possibility that Putin is putting a bounty on the heads of American soldiers and the Commander in Chief is ignoring it. No, the lead story was a peek into the future of a Biden presidency, the police defunded as hordes of Far-Left Radical Marxists wreak havoc on the sanctity of our gated communities, a prequel to Blade Runner.
This message of impending doom meshed well with the commercials. Because corporate sponsors have abandoned Tucker’s show, the commercials punctuating the segments are what you’d expect to see on Basic cable reruns of My Mother the Car, i.e., advertisements targeting an aged demographic: senior citizens in the market for ointments to relieve their aching joints or some elixir to take the edge off their anxiety. In fact, two different ads were pushing sedatives for anxious dogs. The only upbeat commercial was a 90-second spot hawking a memoir written by Mr. Pillow Man himself, a tale of redemption charting his upward arc from addiction to wealth thanks to the intervention of God Almighty. The rest of the ads promoted miracle chemicals going for $19.99 that can remove decades of accumulated exterior mold in a couple of squirts or patch a leaking roof with a mere swipe of a brush.
What struck me more than anything was how unhappy Tucker looked. Whenever a guest was pontificating, Tucker’s face was frozen in the expression captured above in the photo, his mug unanimated, stamped with consternation, not so much looking like a deer in the headlights, but more like a losing member of a World Series team staring out of the dugout as an unsurmountable deficit ticks away in the final outs.
 The setting has been changed from the locked-up castle of Poe’s story to the crowded pews/choirs of mega churches and the close confines of basement bars.
 Speaking of podunk, “Kayleigh” sounds like the name of countrified vixen from a soap opera set in an RV campground.
When I think of tough guys, I think of fictional private eyes, like Sam Spade and Philip Marlowe, hard-drinking stoics whose view of the world is as unmisted as the Kalahari Desert.
Donald Trump would like to think of himself as a tough guy, and he certainly talks the talk, blusters and threatens, but when it comes to walking the walk, for him it takes something more than a village – it takes a phalanx of police peppering unarmed protesters – including clergy – with rubber bullets and spraying them with some species of airborne irritant we dare not call tear gas. These citizens needed to be cleared away so the President and his coterie could swagger up in front of a church for a photo op.
Here he is, holding a Bible upside down, Charles Bronson in a platinum wig playing Cotton Mather.
What may have prompted this “show of strength” is Trump’s ire over the news that he had been ushered into the White House’s underground bunker during protests the previous Friday. The Twitter hashtags #BunkerBitch and #BunkerBoy started making the rounds as did the low-hanging analogies of Ava and Adolph’s last days in bombed out Berlin.
Alas, it would seem, at least from the lamestream news sources I rely on, the PR stunt was an Ishtar grade failure, the brutalizing of the protesters prompting Generals Mattis and Mullen to speak out against the president, which provided cover for Republic Senator Lisa Murkowski to chime in with her own tsk-tsk.
Oh, if there were only some good news, some ray of sunshine striking a shiny object to distract us from our dystopia!
And then, like an answered prayer, the blessed news: Friday’s release of economic data indicating the unemployment rate had dropped to 13.3%, a “surprising turnaround” that “suggested the economy was stabilizing.”
To cash in, Trump summoned the media for what he called a news conference and then doused that tiny spark of sunshine with this obscene and absurd observation:
“Hopefully, George is looking down right now and saying this is a great thing that’s happening for our country. This is a great day for him, it’s a great day for everybody. This is a great day for everybody. This is a great, great day in terms of equality.”
Oh, how would love to have Trump cornered in some black-and-white L.A. motel room alone with Philip Marlowe, that shamus extraordinaire, who hearing such self-serving bullshit would backhand him and snarl, “[When you are] dead, you [are] sleeping the big sleep, you [are] not bothered by things like that, oil and water [are] the same as wind and air to you. You just [sleep] the big sleep, not caring about the nastiness of how you died or where you fell.”
In other words, George Floyd has nothing on his mind, Michael Brown has nothing on his mind, Atatiana Jefferson as nothing on her mind.
As Flannery O’Connor said, “You can’t be any poorer than dead.”
Perhaps Trump should take a page out of Joe Biden’s playbook and STFU, and perhaps Biden should return to that strategy. Biden’s estimation the other day that ten to fifteen percent of Americans are not “good people” adds up to a lot of votes, smacks of Hillary’s “deplorables” snark.
We need to a stop to the carnage and rebuild our Smoldering City on the Hill before there’s nothing left to rebuild.
 Humphrey Bogart played both in film adaptations of Dashielle Hammett and Raymond Chandler novels.
 Note, budding writers, my conscious employment of passive voice.
 Alas, this morning’s Washington Post reports there “had been a ‘major’ error indicating” that “the overall unemployment rate would have been about 3 percentage points higher than reported.”
I hesitate in this family blog to broach the provocative subject of political spouses, those other halves who often elicit irrational and vehement emotional responses from the brave and the free. For example, some members of my extended family despise Hillary Clinton with such an amped-up animus you might think that she had deliberately poisoned one of their beloved pets. I mean, I can see how someone might find Hillary off-putting somehow, but good lord, what could she possibly have done to generate such animosity? Is marrying and constantly forgiving a philanderer, not initially taking his name, working outside the home, and murdering your ex-law partn– choosing garish brightly colored monochromatic pantsuits so wrong?
These irrational responses to candidates’ spouses, however, can also be positive (in a manner of speaking). For example, I know a delightful, compassionate, witty woman who idolizes Laura Bush as if she were St. Teresa of Avila. After enduring an earnest catalog of Laura Bush’s many virtues – poise, spunk, and good taste – I asked my interlocutor (I’m waxing Buckleyean this morning) if she knew that Laura was a smoker. Oh-no-she’s not. Oh-yes-she-is. I mentioned the smoking not because I consider it a character flaw but because I merely wanted to suggest to my friend that Mrs. Bush wasn’t absolutely a paragon of virtue. However, Laura is all right. My son Harrison briefly spoke with her at a Congressional picnic, and he said she was chatty, asking him for whom he worked, mentioning that she and George (as she referred to W) had flown once with Harrison’s Congressman (Bud Cramer) in some kind of official capacity. He said she came off as a genuine and humble person.
Michelle Obama seemed to be a fairly popular First Lady within the realm of the non-poisonedly partisan and non-racist segment of our population. I somehow never picked up that her father’s side came from the Gullah population of the Lowcountry of South Carolina. Anyway, she embodied upward mobility, following her brother to Princeton and becoming the first family members to receive a college degree. Then off to Harvard Law and later to land a job at a prestigious firm where she met her future husband, ol’ whathisname. Anyway, she was poised and delivered some killer convention speeches . . .
Good Golly, Miss Molly
Which brings us to Melania Trump, who is the first First Lady you can check out nude if the inclination strikes you. (I myself have no desire to see any first lady nude except perhaps Dolly Madison.) Anyway, early in Trump’s term, I sympathized with Melania, wrote this pieceabout her, but then after her wearing a ”I Really Don’t Care, Do You?” raincoat while visiting detention center for migrant children, my sympathy dissipated.
At first after the brouhaha, she said there was no message intended by wearing the coat, but later claimed that she was sending a message to the leftwing media, not to the detained children, which begs the question, if she didn’t really care what the media thought, why bother to wear the coat? Anyway, as some wag has pointed out, Melania can come off pretty creepy, looking as if she’s trying to bend spoons with her mind.
Okay, who’s next? Jill Biden or will we get another dose of Melania or – I shudder to imagine it — will an Adderall overdose or massive heart attack usher in First Lady Karen Pence, aka “Mother?” Or then Biden could win and keel over post inauguration, and we’d get our First Gentleman.
Who knows? I certainly don’t.
 Many of you have told me how sometimes the entire family, youngsters and oldsters alike, enjoy gathering around the old monitor and reading these posts aloud).
Rush Limbaugh’s reemergence in the news as cancer victim/Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient reminded me of an incident about a decade ago when some of his usually supportive listeners turned on him for a minute or two. Rush had chided then First Lady Michelle Obama for being overweight. His typically trollish Yahoo commentators (sprawled on beanbag chairs in their darkened rooms), chided Rush, not because of the Rabelaisian hypocrisy of the equivalent of Fatty Arbuckle wagging his sausage-like forefinger at, say, Mae West. No, because the vast majority of Rush’s female listening audience considered themselves to be overweight and body-shaming uncalled for.
Meanwhile, the Far Right’s own Michelle Bachmann was inveighing against First Lady Michelle’s push to raise awareness of the benefits of breast feeding. “To think that government has to go out and buy my breast pump … You want to talk about nanny state, I think we just got a new definition,” she screeched.
Not, your breast pump, Miss Narcissist, an impoverished mother’s breast pump (perhaps one of those weak-willed abstinence-trained adolescents).
Leave it to the Radical Right to turn nanny into a dirty word. Next thing you know maternal will be a vile insult, like liberal. A maternal state that would like to see all its babies well-cared for is a pernicious place where the pocket of the patriarchal super rich is picked to redistribute their largesse among the issue of the lazy, the unwed, the unfit.
The fellow below has earned – well, actually, inherited – his money; still, no matter how he got it, it’s unfair to skim a portion of that pile to fund the filling of the cavities of impoverished children. Even the lightest redistribution of wealth, 5% say, would bring the economy crashing down around us like walls of Jericho. Wealth is a Calvinistic litmus test that determines who is blessed and who is not. Let the marketplace decide. We’re a patriarchy for Christ’s sake!
Suffer the children indeed.
This Orwellian manipulation of language is incredibly effective: if you repeatedly make good things sound bad, they become bad in the minds of the listeners. For example, when I taught high school, each year I’d ask my students if anyone in the class identified as a feminist. The girls would cast their eyes floorward and mutter “no” or “not really.” “What?” I’d ask, feigning incredulity, “so you believe that you should earn less money than men working at the same job? You believe your husbands should be able to tell you how to dress? You’re against maternity leave?” To them, a feminist is not someone who believes in gender equality but, rather, Rush Limbaugh’s Jungian shadow: the late Andrea Dworkin: unattractive, militant, butch. Repeat the word feminist and flash Dworkin’s image often enough, and she becomes the incarnation of feminism.
Alas, a deep acidic strain of misogyny, perhaps Bible-based, infects the worldview of the Radical Right. Otherwise, explain the visceral hatred that Hillary Clinton and Nancy Pelosi evoke. What gives? What is it about these women that can generate enough animus to spawn millions of dollars in bumper sticker sales? Name a male Democratic politician who has stoked as much animus as Hillary and Nancy. Certainly, would think self-proclaimed Socialist Bernie Sanders would be an unrelenting target of their scorn, but thus far he hasn’t.
All that I can come up with is that for some strange, perverse psychological reason (I have my unscientific but intuitively rich guesses), members of the Radical Right resent their mothers and have projected their archetypal negative farrow-eating images on womankind in general. Paradoxically, they’ll allow masculine models like Margaret Thatcher and Ayn Rand into their political and intellectual men’s clubs but banish more maternal women to domestic or secretarial duties. The females who carry the banner of the Radical Right – Ann Coulter, Laura Ingle, Katherine Harris – project hardness; sport inorganic, breakable hair; force their feet into corset-like stilettos; stomp toward the dais; spew sarcasm. They’re about as maternal as a backhand to the mouth.