First of all I came across
this "letter to the editor" in Slate that was pretty good - and the whole thing
is much longer.
Subject: "Aggressive Use of Force
Against - What?"
Date: Sun Dec 28 1642h
... Bush is concertedly
provoking hatred of America and sympathy and support for al Qaeda, because there appears to be a close correlation
between his aggressive and abrasive persona toward the rest of the world and his political popularity among white
Or, more to the point, there appears to be a close correlation between Bush's aggressive and abrasive
persona toward the rest of the world and his political popularity among white American men who themselves are not in the military
or national guard and who don't have a child or other close relative who is.
Curious. An "aggressive
and abrasive persona" is a desirable asset in the political world. Howard Dean should then do well.
but we are told "anger" will not win elections. That's what Dean's opponents are saying. One thinks of an angry
man running for president in 1948 - "Give 'em Hell, Harry." That would be Truman. His "angry" persona led
to Dewey trouncing him so badly, didn't it? Not exactly.
But that was a long time ago. Things must be
Then I came across this:
HANDLING THE BULLIES
Sam Smith, The Progressive Review, Monday, December 29, 2003
Here Smith, provides a long preamble regarding
how "the Republican right has engaged in a politics of cultural bullying that is the direct descendent of the southern
segregationists. It is based on anathematizing a minority in order to solidify its own political base around false assumptions
of purity and superiority..." - and so on.
Then he gets to a really interesting
Smith asks us to imagine, for example, a Democratic candidate who is asked in a debate, "What do you think
about gay marriages" and replies with this:
"I'm a heterosexual and I'm married so I don't think about it much at all. What does bother me
is when one group in this country tries to foist their personal values on another, and even tries to enforce it with a constitutional
amendment. That's about as un-American as you can get. If you don't like gay marriages, then don't become a gay
and don't get married.
"I'm not asking you to approve of gay marriages anymore than I would ask you to believe in
the Virgin birth or the apocalypse. But what if someone told you that it should be illegal to practice rites presaging
the second coming of Christ? Should we have a constitutional amendment to ban that, too?
"What I am asking you
to do is to be good, decent and fair-minded Americans and practice the sort of reciprocal liberty in which citizens say to
each other, I will respect your liberty because I expect you to respect mine. We do not have to agree, we do not have
to approve of each other, we do not even have to like either other, but we do have to share this land and our community fairly.
That is what being an American is about.
"In my campaign I am trying to gain support of as wide a cross-section of
America as I can. To do this, I may sometimes compromise, I sometimes equivocate, but I will not - as conservative politicians
so often do - expel, isolate, and eliminate constituencies simply because they do not look or think like me. I will
not sneakily encourage others to hate and bully. To do so is to take us back to shameful times, such as to that time
less than 40 years ago when you could be arrested and jailed for being married to the wrong person - not then because of the
person's sex but because of their skin color.
"As a public official I will not debate the issue of gay marriage
because it is not the business of public officials. It is the business of religions and of the individuals involved.
If the state can write a church's rules on marriage, it can determine how holy communion is performed and how its bishops
are selected. But it can't do that because the constitution says it can't.
"We live in a society in which, over
the past few decades, the division over another cultural issue - abortion - has been the subject of a bitter, costly and ultimately
pointless debate with few minds changed along the way. What if we had understood at the start that our proper goal was
not to force everyone to agree with us, but to make sure that each side could practice its beliefs without interference by
the other. That would have been the truly American solution to the problem.
"Being American means living in
close proximity with people whose values, intrinsic nature or behavior may not just be different, but which you may not like
at all. Does that mean we just sit on our front porches and glare at our neighbors? Or worse? It doesn't
have to be that way.
"It is not a conservative or liberal matter and it is not an issue of morality; it is an issue
of whether we will treat other Americans with fairness and respect or as playground bullies and cultural tyrants."
This hypothetical candidate
would be crucified for saying such things.
But it sure is a cool
And one more thing that will never happen.