Thursday, November 20, 2008

Political Winds

Well, George W. Bush can't wait to head for the hills and most of us can't wait to see the back of him. And until that happens I sure don't feel I can get on with the rest of my life. In the meantime, the world is crashing down around us dollar by dollar and pound by pound.

And in the further meantime Democrats are screaming about Joe Lieberman's 'no fall' from grace and second guessing Barack Obama's apparent choice of Hillary Clinton for Secretary of State. The media is greatly relieved to have something to make 'drama' with, probably because the ratings have taken a hit since election day. Personally, I think the choice of Hillary is inspired.

I love Chris Matthews, but he is losing his mind, live on MSNBC. Then again, maybe I'm confusing insanity for enthusiam! I can't help thinking though that it sure would be nice if they would just let Obama and his team get on with it. But that is not the way with this culture of immediacy. Listen, all will be revealed in due course. But then I am as guilty as anyone of staying tuned in to political broadcast after broadcast, day after day.

It's been a long time since I've yearned to be back in DC. I lived there for 17 years and some of those years were the best. I knew the city very well and lived on Capitol Hill for 12 of those years. I was there while the subway was being built and took it to work on Connecticut Avenue for a long time. I witnessed Watergate while living there. I was even there to see Watergate being built!! At the time I was working for my Congressman from the then Sixth District of Connecticut, Bernard F. Grabowski. One of the other secretaries in the office had an architect husband who was a project manager at the Watergate. At any rate, the point I started to make before nostalgia set in, is that lately I have been wishing I was still part of that unique political buzz to be found only inside the Beltway.

So 'bring it on' Rachel, Keith and Chris -- I'm all eyes and all ears!

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Jouney: To Minnesota by way of Missouri and Iowa

It is definitely good to travel these parts in May! Everywhere was green and lush, the early spring green that is so welcome after winter. I really like Missouri and was surprised at how much it reminded me of Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer! As we were passing near Independence I was hoping we would be able to find the time to visit the Truman House, Museum, and Library. However, time was not on my side and as it was late in the afternoon, the Truman places would be closed before we would be able to get there. So hopefully, there will be another opportunity one day.

We drove on to Bethany, Missouri, where we spent the night. Sweet little town, but nothing special about the hotel or the restaurant -- I think that is where I ate chicken fried steak -- don't need to try that again!

The next day we headed for Minneapolis by way of Iowa. What a great state Iowa is. I just loved the look of the place. The rest stops off the highway were gorgeous and even offered Internet access. The farms were picture postcard, Saturday Evening Post perfect.
Of course it didn't hurt that we had perfect spring weather to welcome us. The farmland was charming and historic in nature -- it is easy to imagine the land rush and the opportunity offered to those seeking a better life than they could have found in the East, as well as newcomers to the promised land.

Driving through Des Moines was fun -- especially the drive past the state Capitol building, with its gold dome and many turets! I wish I could have taken a better picture of it!

But it was the farms and farmhouses that I was most taken with -- The structures were quite reminescent of my New England, but with a midwestern je ne sais quois all their own. New England doesn't have that endless sky and and endless vistas of comforting farms.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

The Idealism of My Age Joins with the Age of Today

I graduated from high school in 1963 -- so was a witness to the Kennedy election and to the "promise" of his promise. As I was very young and very idealistic I was bowled over by the possibilities he represented for this country. There were many of us who believed that because he was our president we would have equal opportunity for all, health care for all, and an end to racial discrimination. The world loved Jack and Jackie, life was beautiful, they were perfect -- we the young adults of the 60's were not prepared for the brutality of the nightmare which would follow.

In September of 1963 the "poor innocent child" that was me, flew the safety of my family cacoon in Connecticut and boarded a train in New Haven for Washington, DC. The memory of the next few months is harsh both for my development as a young woman on her own, but also for the unhappy events of November 22nd. The assasination of John Kennedy in Dallas was an event so monumental in my life and for others of my age and idealistic nature, that I think our psyche's still bear the scars.

Scars that would be brutally re-opened only a few years later with the deaths of Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King. The Viet Nam War, the hippy movement, the election of Richard Nixon, the violence of the police -- by the end of the decade our dreams and our idealism were shattered, our hopes, the making of a nightmare. The nightmare was underscored by the violence in Chicago during the convention of the Democratic Party. Politically, there was nowhere for us to turn, to be heard. The world seemed to fall apart and then the 70's happened. We left our beads and idealism behind, got jobs, married, bought houses -- in a daze. We 'dropped in' instead of 'out' and gave it up. The promise of "Camelot" faded in the memory but lurked forever in our souls. As so 'life happened' for me and my generation.

Watergate was a shattering experience for me. I detested President Nixon and his policies. I wanted to see the end of him. But when the end came I was overwhelmed by the tragedy of it. When he gave his resignation speech on television, I wept. This was after all the president of the United States and we were witnessing one of the greatest humiliations in our history. Impeachment was avoided -- just. What was most impressive about this time, especially considering the way Congress has operated since, was the bi-partisan nature of the investigation and the committee investigating what had happened. The Congress would do well to study that time when Congress seemed to understand it's role in our government and rose to the occasion.

Make no mistake about it, impeachment is exhausting for the nation and should not be entered into lightly. I believe in the case of Watergate, it was necessary to do if the President did not resign. But I also believe it was in the best interests of the country for President Ford to pardon Richard Nixon. The country had had enough and needed to move forward.

The last President I lived under, and one I voted for, was Jimmy Carter. His presidency was much more successful that most people realize. I was not impressed with him at the time. Like many Americans respect grew with his reputation after he left office. Unfortunately, his presidency was hijacked by the Iranian hostage situation. I always felt it a sad footnote that the Iranians waited until the very moment Reagan took office, but it was touching that Reagan sent Carter to greet them upon their release.

Ronald Reagan may have been 'the great communicator', but he never communicated with me! Though there are now aspects of him that I find intriguing -- particularly the 'penpal letters' that were made public only a few years ago. I suspect that he began suffering from Alzheimer's Disease well before he left office. I now have much more admiration for Nancy Reagan, for her protection of him. And I have admiration for their genuine love and devotion for each other.

At the time I was living in Britain and was thoroughly amused by the lampooning Reagan and Thatcher took from 'Spitting Image', particularly the segment, The President's Brain Is Missing. For me, living in England, the Reagan years were embarassing. I was more accepting of George H.W. Bush, until he literally wrapped himself in the American Flag during the campaign and with the Willie Horton ads. Also I very much liked and admired Michael Dukakis.

And then the Gulf War happened, Thatcher was ousted as leader of the Conservative Party and the World of the 60's was about to enter once again upon the scene in the personages of Bill Clinton on the one hand and then George W. Bush on the other.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Politics and Grandmothers

For those of us lucky enough to have special grandmothers, or to have children with special grandmothers, or to be a grandmother Barack Obama will have touched our hearts in a very significant way. It's impossible to explain except in memories we have of the warmth these women have given us, the magic secret winks and smiles, the security of being loved.

As I watch endless tv coverage of election events today, the power of the event is being told by personal stories of the famous and not so famous. All of America seems joined together by the enormity of the event. I am so glad I am here to participate.