Tuesday, November 30, 2004
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.