Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Diogenes and Me - On the Road Again

To paraphrase the great Joan Cusack in "In and Out", as she stood in the bar in her wedding gown, looking for a marrying man, "Is everybody sleazy?"

I've spent more than 50 voting years looking for an honest politician. It's always been in my best interest to choose the honest ones, and, most of the time, the ones I've chosen have been mostly honest. But--I don't know--maybe I set my sights too high. I really, even now, expect them to behave the way they said they would.

I wanted to believe Bill Clinton when he said through his teeth, "I've never had sexual relations with that woman!" I liked Bill and I thought, as presidents go, he was good for the country.

I wanted to believe John Edwards when he said, with love in his eyes, that Elizabeth was all the woman he ever wanted. I liked John and believed with all my heart that he could help us out of this mess.

I wanted to believe that Bill Richardson was as pure as the driven White Sands, but two Pay-for-Play scandals in a row, along with a flurry of truth-checks, gives me pause. I liked Bill and had every faith that he would have served our country well.

And, more important to you, me, the state of the economy, and the plight of the world, I wanted to believe that George W. Bush would set aside his childish ways and suddenly become a grown-up. (No, I'm kidding here. I never for a scanty second thought he would.)

And now, at my age, I've been bedazzled by this new one, Barack Obama. I like Obama, and let's face it, I want to believe every darned word he ever said. I believed him, for instance, when he said he wouldn't hire lobbyists or special interest flunkies. Why wouldn't I believe him? He HATED those damned lobbyists and special interest flunkies. Didn't he?

(Let me stop and explain myself, because, except for that one lapse, I've only been talking about Democrats here. After 50 years, the Democrats are like family to me. And you know how it is with families; we tend to love them, faults and all. We look the other way when they embarrass us. We suffer silently when they disappoint us. But finally, when they just won't behave, no matter how many times we remind them that we're the good guys, we have to get together for some serious intervention.)

So that brings me to Tom Daschle. I really like Tom Daschle. I was heartbroken when he lost his bid for re-election in 2006. I wanted to believe that Mr. Daschel, soft spoken, modest--one of us-- would continue the good fight Somewhere Out There. I saw pictures of him driving a rickety old car along the streets of D.C, bless his Midwestern heart, and I thought, there's a man who knows where his bread is buttered.

So imagine my surprise when I heard he'd been taking millions from the folks we thought he was fighting against, and tooling around Washington in the back of some millionaire's Town Car. Has he never heard of taxis? Rental cars? Or, here's a thought--when he agreed to come and talk to those groups, couldn't he have asked nicely to be picked up at the airport and delivered to wherever he was going? (I've been one of those airport picker-uppers for semi-famous people. Believe me, there are people standing in line just waiting for a chance to get those VIPS in the car, where they're then held captive for what must seem like hours, subject to the most vapid conversations that consist mainly of observations about the weather. The only consolation is that the ride is free; no strings attached once you step outside of the vehicle.)

***I started this post yesterday, and I'm still waiting to hear how a single person can rack up $120,000 in taxes alone for a part-time car and driver. That's six figures--just for the taxes. I think there's some mighty 'splainin' to do, and I'm all ears. (What is a Town Car, anyway?)

I am sick of greed. I'm sick of sleaze--even legal sleaze. What influence was Daschle peddling and why was it worth many millions of dollars? Consider this: If he had really wanted to get his message across to the Health Care industry, he could have done it for a lot less than a few million dollars. He could have said it this way, in plain-spoken, midwestern English:

"Guys, the ride is over. You either tighten your belts and stop gouging us or I've got three words for you. Universal Health Care."

If he had done that, today he would be Secretary of Health and Human Services, and tomorrow he would have rolled up his sleeves and gotten to work. He would have been where we needed him to be, and somewhere down the road a Good Man could have made us proud.



  1. Ramona,
    You struck a chord in my heart here.
    What is there about Washington and being in the Power Circle that appears to change people. And to bring money and lots of it to our lawmakers.
    The Special Interest groups are alive and well in Washington and I am sure that those who do "business" in Washington think that this is the "only" way of doing business.
    And I think that needs to change, especially with President Obama and the leaders of the Democrats in Washington but how does one break this impasse.
    You know when the present Administration is limiting any type of Lobbying for their Administration that the problem must be rampart.
    And thanks to a very hungry Press looking for the sensation and someone finally called them for what they are: Shock Jocks but they appeal to the American people much like those newspapers at all the checkout stands with scandal after scandal and even with lawsuits, they persist.
    So the question lies in our system and in 24-hour news and the startling speed of the internet and telephones that record images and talks, that the transparency that all look for is obvious but so is the price for coming up with a scandal. What is that inherent feature of "us" that makes us curious about this and as such, it fosters a system that creates its own monster.
    So I now am On the Road Again and looking for that ideal state of politics, I have a feeling it is going to be a long road,


  2. I think you hit the nail on the head--that 24-hour "news" cycle. It's a voracious monster that must constantly be fed, so once it gorges itself on the main meal--REAL news--it has to come up with tidbits to satisfy its hunger.

    The other problem is that the public is so used to celebrities and personalities, controversy and humiliation, it becomes easily bored by real reporters and newscasters.

    Rachel Maddow had Dan Rather on the other night, and I realized how much I missed those old fashioned reporters who went out into the trenches to gather news that had some substance to it. He knows what he's talking about and he doesn't have to put down anybody to get his views across. How refreshing. I'm working on a piece about this, and I'm hoping to get it out soon.

    Thanks for writing. Other voices are what it's all about.


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