Monday, August 13, 2007

Half Full Half Empty

Ah, Monday the thirteenth ... blue Monday.

Thinking some more about Hillary and liberal defeatism. There is a certain poignancy in such thoughts on this day when Karl Rove announces his strategic retreat to the private sector of cashing in. No surprise, I think he is one of the lowest curs ever to occupy an office in the White House, and that takes some doing.

But "no surprise" in another sense ... a Karl Rove presents no surprises. Conservatives, by and large, don't present a lot of surprises. That is in the nature of what Kenneth Burke calls an "occupational psychosis." The affect of the conservative is to defend the indefensible in the sense that hanging on to the past, on any level, tends to be a fruitless occupation in the long run. But conservatives have not been conservative on that level for some time, and the Dubya-ites are vastly more radical than they are conservative. So their method is to snow the out-there conservatives who support them in order to advance a radical agenda. Same methods ... no surprises ... just lie your way to the bank, and keep a big smug smile up front and center.

Doesn't work that way for liberals. What I called liberal defeatism in yesterday's post is as often as not simply balancing the half empty and the half full ... looking at the upside and the downside at the same time.

Now there are plenty of kneejerk liberals. I remember an episode in the 70s when I was in gay liberation. We had managed to sponsor a couple of showings of Word is Out, a pioneering film in which a variety of men and women talked about their lives in the closet and their experience of coming out. We showed it at the Vancouver Art Galley on Georgia Street (not in the same location as now). It was three blocks from my apartment. We had a gala opening night, and then I skipped the second viewing the following night until I got a call at home that a bunch of christians had shown up to protest carrying signs mounted on 2 x 4's. I raced down ... the moment is burned in my mind because I knew the young pastor who led this group from other events, and as I walked by him, I said, "Here spreading hate again, are ya?" I think he was taken aback. But the point of this story was that outside the ring of these micro-fascists was a bunch of PC dykes of my acquaintance who did not want to cross the picket line. I had to convince them that these were our enemies. They never bothered to read the signs or anything rational like that. They saw a picket line, they honored it.

But all that is an aside however annoying the pc-er's (p-seers, I like to call them) may be, their influence on politics is at an ebb in these days, notwithstanding the firey idiocy of Chris Daly, San Francisco supervisor ... gotta leave that to another occasion.

The problem in the larger zone of liberalism is that we are occupationally prone to look at both sides of the coin. So in the dinner debate I described yesterday, I was accusing my interlocutors of being pointlessly pessimistic, but half an hour later I was rambling on about how the housing crash is going to bring us all to our knees. So, I was clearly violating my own pronunciamento. This is not uncommon. And it is not entirely without justification. I think one has to be unusually blind ... or a Republican ... not to realize that the sum of the issues confronting our species is more daunting than anything we have ever faced. The colossal imminent climate catastrophes are looming even as we have dragged the most volatile parts of the world to the edge of a holocaust. And the economy is puffed up on steroids, unusustainably.

But, then again, a couple of days ago I was bemoaning the bad time we give to the seemingly steroidal Barry Bonds.

No clarity, no simplicity, no one answer. That is the curse of liberalism.

So at bottom, increasingly as I get older and more cautious, I take solace in what might ameliorate things ... in the art of the possible. And that is why I have begun more and more to be convinced that Hillary is the best answer out there. She has the best shot to get elected, in my view, and she has the best shot of not self-destructing in some kind of earnest Jimmy-Carter-meltdown, or, on the other hand, getting snowed by reactionary thought like the hapless Lyndon Johnson. The latter, alas, is more likely. I think she is also the one who understands best what a paradigm shift is, having lived through the one that her husband created for eight too-brief years. No guarantees, but she is the best shot.

Enough of this ramble ... not all that sharp a ramble ... but a ramble nonetheless.

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