Long Bush winter
Friend and comrade Idelber Avelar, on his way to Brazil and Argentina, writes to try to rouse me from my dogmatic slumbers:
Something tells me that your move from daily to weekly posts on the blog has to do not so much with how busy you must be in this grading and letter-writing season, but with the sadness we’re all feeling. I write to ask you not to let the ball drop on the weekly posts. . . . I haven’t done enough reading on this, but the impact of the blogosphere on the civic movement that we’ve been part of this year has not, I think, been sufficiently studied yet.
Well, he’s right, you know. I’m more than overdue with my first non-ironic post-election post to this humble and humbled blog. I wasn’t really in Colorado Springs, after all, as many of you surmised-- that was just my way of declaring a hiatus until after the Thanksgiving holiday. And I was, in fact, swamped with other long-overdue things: responses to my students in my Introduction to Graduate Studies course; further work on the book I believed I could finish by August 31 and had promised to finish by October 31; myriad professional-service tasks too trivial and soul-eroding to name; and worst of all, a huge federal grant proposal having to do with disability studies and rehabilitation services. The grant thing gets to be “worst of all” because although I know something about disability studies, I still know too little about rehabilitation, and nothing at all about the world of writing grant proposals. Really, nothing. How nothing, you ask? This nothing: right up to the final week before the proposal deadline, November 29 (that would be, uh, yesterday), I had no idea that a proposal had to be vetted by a college’s budget officer, and I learned on the very day the proposal was due (yesterday, I believe) that a form needed to be signed by my department head. Today, I’m just stopping by the blog to declare an end to the hiatus before I head off to an Individualized Education Program meeting with Jamie’s sixth-grade teachers (who are great) and an English department meeting.
But Idelber’s right-- underneath all the busy-work, I really am crushingly sad about this election. I have taken Katha Pollitt’s advice to heart, and I have been mourning. Not that I expected that we would take back the Senate, now-- I thought that was well beyond reach. But I did think that we’d now be in the business of complaining about Kerry’s cabinet picks and wondering how he was going to be able to govern against the combined forces of Frist, DeLay, and the Heathers. And I believed this not only because the undecideds are supposed to break for the challenger, dammit (what was wrong with them this time?), but because the nearly-infallible Nathan Newman told everyone back in 2002 that the 2005 State of the Union would be delivered by John Kerry (and when he said so back then, everyone thought he was out of his bird; me, I thought this guy knows something I don’t-- and not for the first time, either).
So I just haven’t had the heart to jump into the Where-Do-the-Democrats-Go-Now debates. Every once in a while I come across some fool of a “moderate” who believes that Bush will turn to the middle in his second term, and I’ve wanted to write, exactly which alternate dimension have you been inhabiting these past four years? Bush is concerned about his “legacy,” yeah, but he doesn’t think of it in terms of “bipartisan agreements to move the country forward blather blah blah,” he thinks of it in terms of “how to crush Democrats so thoroughly that the twenty-first century will effectively be closed to them.” But I just couldn’t make my fingers do the work. It’s going to be a long, bitter, mean Bush winter, and all I can suggest, to those of you who can afford it, is to buy lots of warm woolen socks and Arctic outergear.
I’ll have more to say about this a bit later on in steely gray dim December. For now I’m taking some small solace in the fact that 55 million of us tried our best to pull the country back from the brink. We voted against Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo; we voted against homophobia (and all the more credit to Kerry for refusing to take Clinton’s advice to travel back to Massachusetts to execute a gay couple and denounce Ellen DeGeneres); we voted against the worst Justice Department since Nixon; we voted against the manipulation of US intelligence-- and the trashing of US credibility-- in the runup to an unnecessary and disastrous war in Iraq; and we even voted to try to give our Republican neighbors-- yes, even you good folks in the South-- some entitlement to decent health care. In 1984, I went around for months feeling like an alien, knowing that my fellow Americans had swept Reagan back into office in a tsunami; this month, by contrast, I’ve felt like we just barely lost one-- and through no real fault of our own. But by the same token, we’ve learned that millions of Bush voters (that is, the ones who aren’t CHRISTIANs) either (a) have no idea where their guy stands on the issues or (b) have no idea what an “issue” is. It’s hard not to be depressed about this, and it’s even harder not to think that in some sense these people deserve everything they’re going to get in the next four years. But there’s really nowhere to go with that thought, now, is there.
Last but not least, I just needed to detach from the blog for a while. By early November it had gotten to the point where friends were saying to me, “I see you were in Pittsburgh but you didn’t let me know you were coming,” or “isn’t all that blogging taking away from the time you told me you were going to do X?” At first I thought I should simply convert this site into one of those anonymous blogs that are popping up all over academe, but then I remembered, d’oh, it’s called michaelberube.com! why didn’t I think of that in January? And even if I changed the domain name to Anónymóus.com (les accents aigus being the only tipoff to those In The Know), the family pix would still give me away. So I’ll just have to keep posting as me, or at least as some version of me.
Good to see ya back!Posted by on 11/30 at 07:58 AM
As is so often said at funerals, it’s nice to see you. I wish it were under different circumstances.
Back in the ‘70s and ‘80s and ‘90s, it seemed like only right-wingers built shelters in their backyards and made contingecy plans. But having looked hard at recent economic indicators--most of which are the direct result of Bush’s policies and would be absurd if they weren’t so damned scary--I see that now it’s the lefties who are, well, left to make contingencies.
I’m hoping that the unity fostered in the Democratic Party in the buildup to the election will carry over throughout Bush II, Part II--but not in some we’ll-get’em-next-time way. I just think we’ll need a lot of community to get through the next four years.Posted by on 11/30 at 08:57 AM
Fear not, we shall have our schadenfreude. It seems to me the debacle is already starting, hearing the cracks in the partisan ranks like rumblings in the Arctic ice floes (GOP floes?) in spring, what with Hastert’s new rule, and the Bug Man’s Shay’s Handful… just a few weaknesses showing in the structure....Posted by on 11/30 at 09:09 AM
It’s hardly schadenfreude to watch Republicans drowning when we stand in the same boat they do. But mourn, I agree. Mourn because Democrats are unable to comprehend what went wrong, and write articles like Katha Pollitt’s, extolling the successes of Kerry’s campaign but ignoring the preceding years (decades?), when liberals sat by and let conservatives control public discourse, let conservatives turn “liberal” into a swear-word, let conservatives make homophobia the most prominent Christian value, etc., etc. Let them (liberals) suffer for their own folly. And the conservatives will have all the schadenfreude.Posted by on 11/30 at 10:52 AM
Welcome back too!Posted by on 11/30 at 10:58 AM
I’m not resigned to the long winter just yet. One never knows what will happen in the next year or two. Iraq, for instance, is still a bit of a timebomb, is it not?
As I was recently in the midst of one of those almost cliche Thanksgiving-debates-with-one’s-Republican-relatives, I was reminded that many people actually see Iraq as a success.
When will that facade really properly erode, in such a way that ordinary ‘mericans will see it the same way I do? Can Bush really present the smiling face of west Texan (neo-Orwellian) determination on this fiasco for eternity?
I wonder if this is how people felt about the Nixon administration after Watergate broke… ? Or maybe there just isn’t a precedent for this.Posted by Amardeep on 11/30 at 10:58 AM
I’m looking forward to schadenfreude, actually, inasmuch as I’m looking forward to anything. It certainly beats this goddamn weltschmerz.
And are we, in fact, in the same boat as our Republican neighbors? Right now we are, but I have a plan, which I’ll disclose later this week. And no, it doesn’t involve secession. That would be silly.Posted by Michael on 11/30 at 11:15 AM
Michael, it’s good to read you again. Don’t ever leave! By the way, schadenfreude goes down best with a little Dusseldorf mustard…Posted by on 11/30 at 11:36 AM
I for one look forward to reading your plan.
I also look forward to more of you irony, since as the song goes “Nobody does it better”.Posted by on 11/30 at 01:58 PM
I’m glad to see you back, too, and I missed your blog, which made me laugh during a most unfunny autumn. I know you had to write letters and go to meetings and do your laundry and wring the bitter juice out of your ideals this break, but it was then I *most* missed your blog; I used to sneak off and read blogs when I was supposed to be doing all those things. Still haven’t gotten the taste of despair out of my morning coffee yet, and anticipate that in these coming years of a thousand points of blight that I may come to relish it a little. But only if there are blogs to read and people to talk to and listen to.
One thing that the Bush reelection has made me do is carve out a precious few hours a week to return to the activist world—not an antidote but another place where resistance can be found. My best guess—women’s shelters and reproductive rights issues and any queer organization—no time for internal squabbling—needs our help.Posted by on 11/30 at 03:10 PM
Welcome back, from a former Pittsburgher. A period of mourning is just what is needed for a while.Posted by TomChicago on 11/30 at 03:25 PM
Just remember: If you stop blogging the Bushiites will have won.Posted by Randy Paul on 11/30 at 03:54 PM
BTW, if we’re looking for something to be ironic about, how about this:
He is basically arguing that since Universities are sort of Churchy and Churches are sort of schoolish, the twain should definitely meet, hug, and exchange voting patterns.
I tried to blog about it, but I am sadly irony-deficient.Posted by Amardeep on 11/30 at 04:11 PM
When you come back, tell us more about your grant! I’m in a disability rights class right now at UCLAw, writing a paper on the applicability of the Americans with Disabilities Act to the Internet, and this stuff is fascinating.Posted by on 11/30 at 06:23 PM
Yes, welcome back. I too have been in a mourning mood. My response to those who ask: “Are you over it yet?” is to say: “Well, are you happy with Bush being given four more years as president?” If it’s a Republican who answers “Well, better than Clinton” (you’ll notice most won’t even try to rip Kerry because they know he looked damned good in those debates), I respond: “Yeah, I guess you, as a Republican, don’t like lower crime rates, lower poverty rates, better overall economic conditions, budget surpluses, and respect among allies throughout the world--as existed during Clinton’s time. You’d rather have someone as president who lies about everything except sex, like Bush, instead of one who only lies about his sex life, like Clinton.”
My advice is to keep one’s jucies flowing while mourning! The big thing we need to keep in mind is that Kerry raised a hellava lot of money through the Internet and the Internet community continues to grow. We are finding each other and that is the first step in a larger more effective movement. Plus, the Dems left in the Senate are a stronger bunch than under the leadership of the Daschle-Docile Dems.
Yes, yes. People may say this is no time to be hopeful. And yes, I know things can easily be seen as getting worse and worse--and they probably will get worse. But we humans are a strange bunch who combine contradictory feelings more times than not. So, mourn, but stay hopeful and vow to be strong in standing up for ourselves. And let’s hold our remaining Dems in the Senate to their principles and values that they and we hold dear.
Final thought: Michael, it’s okay to blog once a week or even slightly less. You earned it. We’ll just keep checking. It’s just an extra click every few days.Posted by on 12/01 at 05:41 AM
Michael, let sleeping dogmatics lie!
Oh, and speaking of animals, your pet monkey got across the border and its running around loose in Canuckistan and its really pissing us off! Can’t you get a leash for that thing?Posted by on 12/01 at 06:06 AM
I have a plan, too, Michael.
But just as my plan is getting near finished, I’m being offered this Wall St (well, Madison Ave.) job where they expect me to work 10-11 hours a day.
Well, I doubt we are the only two with plans, perhaps some of them will slip by the radar of “them.”Posted by Josh Narins on 12/01 at 06:16 AM
Welcome back, and hope your IEP meeting went well--mine are always lively little affairs. Good luck w/your grant....Posted by on 12/01 at 07:02 AM
Hi Jengould-- there’s not much to tell about my grant, and besides, I don’t want to jinx myself and the team that put it together! But basically we’re asking for funding for three postdoc students per year, over five years, who would work with both the nascent Disability Studies Program here and with a field in Rehabilitation or Health and Human Development, with various outreach opportunities in the fair commonwealth of PA.
And thanks for the reprieve, Mitchell-- but I think I’ll post a couple of times per week now that some of the local smoke has cleared. At least I’ll try to. Gotta finish the book, though. That’s item A.
VKW: Sorry about the monkey. Unfortunately he cannot be leashed-- though apparently his daughters can. Should they ever wander into Canuckistan.
And thanks, Emily-- the IEP was just fine. Mostly updates on how well Jamie’s adjusting to middle school and how to plan for next year, plus some minor requests (on our part) about transportation and life skills-- nothing too too serious, and nothing contentious!Posted by Michael on 12/01 at 11:09 AM
i want to say too its good to see you back. i think this blog is great, so the next time someone says ‘shouldn’t you be doing x’, tell ‘em you know, but ‘i gotta do it for the peeps’. that should confuse them enough to let you slip out.
i got to say though i’ve been actually more than just depressed (but that too) since the election. i’m kind of pissed off. i know that this isn’t a particularly helpful emotion, but i feel righteous about it.
for example, have you heard about the whole alabama constitutional amendement failure? if the gop can run a national campaign that pretty much ridicules/denegrates people who live in cities and on the coast, why can’t the dems unapologitically call these people fucking crazy racists? we are dealing with people who turn a promise of free and equal education to something about trial lawyers and activist judges. i’m sorry, we’re not dealing with those people, we’re dealing with people who BELIEVE those people. yeah, i’m pissed.
glad to see you back though.Posted by on 12/02 at 12:05 AM
I hate the whole “where do you find the time?” crap. First, as you know, a blog doesn’t take that much time. Second, it’s not like other people don’t have time-consuming activities. Good lord.
As for the privacy thing, I noticed that right away. A blog, while taking the form of public self-disclosure, is a classic case of Goffmanesque social performance. Another role to play.
And with that. . .
--JPosted by Jonathan on 12/02 at 04:45 AM
In retrospect, it’s virtually impossible to defeat an incumbent President in wartime. If it’s any consolation, Lincoln in 1864, FDR in 1944 and Nixon in ‘72 had larger winning margins—mandates, if you will—than Bush did in ‘04.Posted by on 12/02 at 02:09 PM
A tardy welcome back. It’s so nice to know one isn’t the only mourner. I knew those four to five hours a day I find myself crying actual tears meant something.
Michael, don’t beat yourself up about being eponymous as opposed to anonymous;those of us who have been reading you even before the blog would have known it was you. It’s called having a “voice.”
And look what marvelous and witty commentators you draw. Count this as one vote for schadenfreude. Thanks Carol for “Fear not, we shall have our schadenfreude,” it has such a lovely ring to it.Posted by Leah A on 12/03 at 12:32 PM
I read. I laugh. My wife calls from the next room: “What is so funny?”
I am glad you have not sailed away with Billmon.Posted by on 12/03 at 04:28 PM
No question, my readers/commenters are way wittier than Billmon’s ever were. I read, I laugh, my wife asks what’s so funny. It’s a feedback loop, is what it is. Thanks for chipping in, everyone!Posted by Michael on 12/03 at 05:53 PM
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