The most boring exhibit I ever saw in any of the Washington, DC Smithsonian museums was, without a doubt, the gowns of the First Ladies. Oh, how I could not have cared less. But my mother preened over them like she'd just found some rare bird egg sitting under her window. Helen Taft? Grace Coolidge? Elizabeth Monroe? I didn't care about their dresses, and I certainly didn't know who they were as women. On top of that, weren't First Ladies just... housewives in a really nice house?
Regardless of which person the President would have selected for Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court, I would have been interested. I am curious to see what floats around in the ether (read: debate) around present-day nominees, and given the interest by many in the makeup of the court, I want to keep tabs on the rhetoric around this specific nominee. Especially since she's an ex-gay.
In the camp of You Can't Make This Shit Up, I'd like to take a brief look—a glance, really—at a few odd stories about the weird things former politicians and lobbyists (and politicians who became lobbyists) do. Honestly, I don't think I should write about this for too long, as something in my brain might start to mis-fire on purpose. Contemplation isn't worth long-term cognitive damage, after all. First, there's the Bill Clinton weight loss story that I keep pretending isn't there, but like Al Pacino says in The Godfather Part III, it keeps "pulling me back in."
Up until now, I've looked at people who have for better or worse had their time in the spotlight of Washington, DC and who have, for the most part, faded from view, or at least have made their ways to the back of our collective memory. And starting next month I'll take a gander at folks who were not as much on the national stage but who have affected policy or political expectations more regionally.
So far going through the scandals and politicized campaigns of yore has been relatively straightforward. Not so this time around. Because I'm taking up the sordid story of Oliver North.
June is LGBT pride month, commemorating the multi-day standoff at the Stonewall Inn in New York City, 1969. When I've marched through the sticky heat of Washington, DC's pride festivities, I find myself wishing we were commemorating something in April, but the Stonewall riots are probably the best touchstone to choose, so June it is.
As commercialized as Pride festivals are these days—and here I note the full inclusion of a Frito-Lay truck having an actual float in this year's DC parade—it's easy to forget the moments that have been hard fought in the last 41 years. When I first came out in 1991, I thought gay marriage would never happen in my lifetime, and as of today, it is legal in five states and the DC. We have progressed further than I thought possible, and in other ways, we have barely moved an inch. [More]
I don't mean to get stuck on Sarah Palin, honestly. She pops up on the media's radar, however, for a whole host of reasons:
* She gives meatier, off-the-cuff remarks than most anyone, including Joe Biden
* She is something other than a white guy in a stuffed suit
* She looks like she's gunning to run for President in 2012
* She has sex appeal
This last point isn't my own assessment—I'm just saying I think mainstream media thinks she has sex appeal. Either from what she radiates in the way of sinewy forearm muscles (see Wednesday's blog post), or because the media is premised at least a little bit on a sexist framework, when there are articles about Ms. Palin, there often is a focus on something other than her policy stances. So I wasn't exactly shocked to read this headline on Thursday morning—Sarah Palin (DD-Alaska)?—from the Boston Herald. [More]
But seriously. "Daring to Discuss Women in Science" by John Tierney ran in the New York Times two days ago. In it, Tierney announces a proposed national law that would require the White House science adviser to oversee workshops aimed to close the gender gap in science and engineering. But rather than express support for the proposal ("Fulfilling the potential of women in academic science and engineering," section 124 out of 700-section bill, brief the 248-page PDF here), Tierney in so many words says, "You guys, I hate to be the buzzkill, but girls are worse at math than boys. I can prove it."
I had the occasion to visit Juneau, the capitol of Alaska, last August, and within five minutes of seeing the city, declared that McCain's people must have lost their continence when they landed there, knowing that no way was this Sarah Palin thing going to end up well. Because honestly, the place is so small, so isolated, so everything that Washington, DC isn't, that there would have to be armies of people on hand to get Ms. Palin up to speed on how to run a vice presidential campaign. And in hindsight, it's a lot to expect of anyone that teams of condescending DC staffers wouldn't produce some bitterness. Just maybe not the kind of bitterness Palin is dishing out in her ghostwritten memoir.
A pretty obvious statement to make in these times is that the U.S. electorate is polarized. Long understood that so-called hot button issues like reproductive rights weren't a topic that everyone would agree on, other policies have jumped on the bandwagon, so much so, that now I'm a little shocked it hasn't crumbled beneath the weight of it all: same-sex marriage, prayer in schools, how much government should be regulated, how big government should be, whether humans evolved from monkeys or were blinked into existence, and so on. [More]
It goes well beyond irony that anyone, after much hard-fought competition, would land an internship on DC's Capitol Hill only to wind up at the center of a sex-and-murder scandal. The Chandra Levy/Gary Condit relationship wound up stealing the majority of the national news cycle when the story broke in May 2001, supplanted as a headline only by the horror and tragedy of 9/11.