Saturday, February 05, 2005

Postcards from different worlds

Last night, my fiancee and I went to Bountiful. This town is pretty homogeneous: over 95% white and probably at least as high percentage belong to the LDS faith.

We went up North to participate in student group that is designed primarily for spouses/partners who would like to get out and talk to adults everyonce in a while (read: stay-at-home moms). The ones there were 3Ls and gave us a snapshot of where we would be in two years. We talked, ate pizza and other snacks, played games and had a good time with nice people.

This are very conservative people. We played a comparison game called Apples-to-Apples. The word was "Trustworthy" and you were to choose among your cards of nouns which word you thought the judge would deem the most apt. Someone choose "Republicans," and my fiancee and I held back our shock and laughter given the record of lies by George W. Bush's administration and the homegrown version ex-SL Co. Mayor Nancy Workman, who is currently on trial for defrauding the county of money to pay her daughter for a do-nothing job.

The other one was a word somewhere between "evil" and "untrustworthy" (I can't remember the exact word) and someone chose "Hillary Rodham Clinton" as there card. Now some time HRC bothers me, but other than being ambitious and cut-throat, I can't think of many negative things about her...She had bad hair styles at times but she was hyperscrutinized. She is brilliant (probably smarter than Bill, and that is saying something), a good senator (in terms of getting stuff done and working with GOPers etc.), shying away from the spotlight that follows her around, and passionate about her causes.

This morning was completely the opposite politcally. Wellesley Professor (emeritus) Alan Schechter was speaking at an alumnae's house near us. Schechter was Hillary's mentor and got appointed to the Fulbright committee by Clinton. The man is from the "Democratic wing of the Democratic Party" but his wife was even more of an activist. Yet I had Wesley Clark in common with them. They had campaigned in Portsmouth while I was Derry last winter. We reminisced about how cold it was and talked about gearing up for Clark '08. In the crowd we had my contracts professor (class of '67), the dean of the law school/ Democratic gubenatorial candidate/husband of '76 alumna Robyn Matheson, lawyers, artists, PhD candidates and more prominant alumnae. A very powerful group of women assembled around Schechter and the muffins we bought from Costco.

Schechter talked about how we got to where we are today. His synopsis: we are in a backlash that started in the 1960s and 1970s where LBJ and the Warren/Marshall court changed the cultural landscape: allowing blacks to vote, women equal protection, abortion, banning the death penalty (and recently allowing gay marriage in places like SF and MA).

The Democratic majority from the '30s until '94 in Congress was a false, corrupt bargain between the "Solid South," filled with conservative (and racist) members/senators and the emerging coastal liberals. It was the Civil Rights act of 1964 and Voting Rights Act of 1965 (combined with the court rulings) that sealed the eventual fate of that Democratic party. Almost all of these same conservatives slowly, but surely joined the GOP starting with Goldwater, then Reagan and eventually Bush 43.

While Reagan played lipservice to the evangelicals, Bush 43 actually is a born-again, as is many in his staff. Schechter sees no hope of the GOP's strange marriage between Wall-Street Republicans and evangelicals because they are mutually dependent on each other to achieve their goals.

The White House, he said, is up for grabs, but the Congress is out of reach for the foreseeable future. He believes Hillary is susceptible to a Draft movement like Clark was and both have the same view of running for the presidency: that they would run if their country called them.

Like me, Schechter knew Kerry was a loser from the get-go because a) his lack of person magnetism needed to win over marginal voters b) his Vietnam history c) his ability to make every position seem two-faced and flip-floppy, even if he was consistent d) the fact that he was a senator for 20 years, and finally e) the fact that he represented Massachusetts. Thus, he liked Clark because he a) he charismatic (more than the the other candidates save Sharpton and Edwards) b) his clear pro-Vietnam history c) is lack of track record d) not a senator e) the fact that he was from flippable Arkansas. The idea was, with no voting history, Clark could be consistent and make up his positions as he went along. Of course, it didn't work out that way (see "Help, Mary!").

Clark learned from his mistakes, I believe, like Schetcher thinks that Dean learned from his. Schechter thinks that Dean will watch his mouth more and not try to change the party ideologically. But hopefully structurally Howard.

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