Thursday, November 21, 2013

Poetic Justice & Compassionate Schadenfreude

First of all: thank you for your support. I didn't realize when I wrote yesterday's post that it sounds a bunch like one of those "tell me you love me or I'm going to go away" posts that you read periodically, where someone decides they're not getting enough attention and wants people to prove they're still out there. I did not mean that at all, I swear. I really am trying to figure out how to 1) have the blog I love and 2) not run roughshod over anyone's feelings (*who doesn't deserve it*) in the process. I cannot be serious, though. I cannot do one of those touchy-feely, deep-and-thoughtful blogs where I offer nuggets of wisdom and kindness and gentle thoughts and blessings every day. Nope. My head would explode for real. I'm not going away because I have too much fun here, and I would miss y'all mightily. Catarina had an excellent point: our job, as creative people, is to create something from nothing. Well, duh. Of course it is. She's exactly right, and my whinging about having nothing to write about is just pure-D laziness on my part. She didn't say that, of course, being way too nice a person.

So I thought I'd give an example of my conundrum, of Things I'd Love to Post If Only. I've started several times to write about this because, you know, it's the kind of thing that sticks in my head (whoa: something I actually *remember*), but I didn't want to hurt anyone's feelings. Oh, well.

Second of all, a disclaimer: if you are a friend of Claytie, or if you are a friend of a friend or maybe a former campaign manager or donor or maybe drinking buddy, do not read this. I'm telling you right now. If you *do* read it, do not come up to me later and tell me how wonderful a human being he is and how he once saved a puppy from drowning and gave all his pocket change to the hungry orphans and how I ought to be ashamed of myself for saying anything—anything!—bad about someone so kind and generous and forward-thinking. Plus rich. Just don't. I don't want to hear about it. Once you enter politics, step into public life and ask people to support you and vote for you and donate money to you and give you power over their lives, your life becomes fair game. You are no longer a private citizen, not once you start publicly taking potshots at other public figures in, you know, *public.* I was having this conversation with our newest elected councilman, about how now that he's been elected, everything he does will be watched by someone, somewhere. Right now there's someone who figures he's going to run against them or their candidate at some point in the future, and they're following him around, collecting his trash and snapping photos.


Even if you've never lived in Texas, you may remember the gubernatorial race of 1990, in which Midland oilman Clayton Williams ran against Ann Richards. (And let me just say that there are those of us who miss Ann and Molly Ivins to this very day and remember oh-so-fondly a different time in Texas. A time before before we had a governor who carries a gun in his pants to shoot varmints on his morning jog.) After one debate, Claytie refused to shake her hand, which in this part of the country is akin to spitting a big loogie on her boots. And then the gaffe for which even non-Texans remember him best, this account taken from the New York Times via

The Republican gubernatorial nominee apologized today for an off-the-cuff remark suggesting that some victims of rape should ''relax and enjoy it.''
The candidate, Clayton Williams, had initially played down the remark as being a joke.
Women's groups and political opponents of Mr. Williams strongly criticized the candidate for the comment.
It ''questions his ability to understand the kinds of problems faced by the people of Texas,'' said Ann Richards, the State Treasurer and a runoff candidate for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination. ''Rape is a crime of violence.''
Mr. Williams made the remark on Saturday while preparing for a cattle roundup at his West Texas ranch. He compared the cold, foggy weather spoiling the event to a rape, telling ranch hands, campaign workers and reporters around a campfire, ''If it's inevitable, just relax and enjoy it.''
Mr. Williams Apologizes
Later on Saturday, Mr. Williams said it was merely a joke and apologized ''if anyone's offended.''
''That's not a Republican women's club that we were having this morning,'' he said. ''It's a working cow camp, a tough world where you can get kicked in the testicles if you're not careful.''
Asked if some people might be offended, Mr. Williams said: ''I'm not going to give you a serious answer. It wasn't a serious deal. It wasn't a serious statement.''
But today his campaign issued a statement in which Mr. Williams said: ''I feel just terrible about this. I had no intention in my heart to hurt anyone, especially those women who have been traumatized by rape.

Although he's still a local celebrity, I guess, his good-ol-boy-ness pretty much Borked his political chances (to Bork: a term I started using before I ever heard it from anyone else (others used it as a verb meaning having something done to you, as in "he was borked")) re: Robert Bork, meaning "to somehow screw up a sure thing"). I do not know him personally, although I assume at some point I may have met him. On election night, we were standing behind him in line, and he was joking with the poll people about going to the bar. I was trying to listen and determine if he had been to the bar already or was only joking, but I couldn't tell. He's in his 80s now, and perhaps he's in decline. I don't know. For me, it's impossible to get past the fact that a man who wanted to be governor of Texas, perhaps with higher political aspirations, thought rape was a joking matter. And, when he tried to apologize, made it even worse by proving that, OK, maybe it wasn't that funny, but it was a concern only to "a Republican women's club." Yowza.

Aside: he's pretty much like George W. around here. Even that small handful of people who don't think he sits at the right hand of God will defend him to death. In those rare cases, it's pretty much a case of, "OK, maybe he's an asshole, but he's *our* asshole." Yes. Yes, he is.

So we're in line behind him, and my antennae are up because, you know, wow. What kind of person is this, anyway? A basically nice person who just didn't get it, or an evil cretin? (According to Wikipedia, one mock ad referred to him as "Satan Williams" at one point in the campaign.  I never saw that, but I hope it was as funny as I imagine it was.) Come on, y'all all saw The Dead Zone, about the crazed politician who became president. Don't tell me you don't think of that when you hear something some guy lets slip.

And why, tell me, did "something some guy lets slip" suddenly call up Anthony Wiener, known in this house as Tony The Dick? You know I don't follow this stuff closely, so the guy could be back in office or dead or whatever, but you have to love him because all you have to say now, to sum up a certain kind of unbelievable individual, self-involved and power hungry, is to say about him, "He's the kind of guy who texts photos of his penis." That right there says everything anyone would ever need to know. You don't have to mean that whatever guy you're talking about has, literally, photographed himself nekkid and happy. No. But he's the kind of guy who, theoretically, would do that.  And let's just say this: I cannot even begin to list all the reasons that's beyond creepy. To start, how does one first get the idea? You're sitting around the office, waiting on a meeting to start, scrolling through the photos on your iPhone and going, "I really need a better headshot of myself." Is that it? Or you get out of the shower and look down and go, "Whoa! That would make a great photo! I wonder if this thing does macro?"

Anyway! ANYWAY! How do I get so sidetracked? I have no idea. So: standing in line behind Claytie and wondering about his choice for mayor. We had five or six candidates. Only two of them were viable: the Republican, who is Hispanic (and who won) and a (whoa!) Democrat, who was endorsed by the newspaper (whoa! WHOA!) and who was African-American (whoa-omigod-WHOA!). The other three (or maybe it was 4), all white, jumped in later when someone went, "Holy crap, we're gonna end up with us a minority mayor if we're not careful. Jim-Bob, comb your hair and go toss your name in the hat." I'm guessing there's no way he would ever, ever, ever be caught dead voting for a Democrat, so which way is he going to go? For the guy who can beat the Democrat? Or is voting for a Hispanic for mayor just too gristly a bite to chew? This is the kind of stuff you think about while standing in line when you can't stitch. It's one reason I try always *to* stitch; it gives me something to do besides eavesdrop and imagine what goes on in people's lives.

So he goes in to vote, this guy who ran for governor, who could have afforded to buy the governorship if he'd just kept his mouth shut, and he can't figure out how to make the machine work. They explain it to you when you first go in, and then they leave you to it. And they had to go back not once, but twice, to explain it again. I felt sorry for him, initially, because, you know, getting old can suck. Technology can bite you. If I live long enough, I'm sure there'll be a day when I can't figure out how to answer my own phone.

Wait. That's already happened. Never mind.

On the one hand, it's sad, and it does make you feel sorry for the guy. But on the other, well. Some of us dearly want to believe there is poetic justice, that the mighty are humbled and the greedy are slapped upside the head. And that the misogynist rednecks will one day be forced to ask the little old ladies at the poll to help them cast their ballot for mayor.


Elizabeth Bennett said...

A multi-snort post! Thanks for picking up my day (and many of us outside of Texas still miss Molly Ivins and Ann Richards, too).

Ricë said...

Oh, yay! Snorting is just The Best! XO

Lyric Montgomery Kinard said...

I snorted AND snorked! Good thing I wasn't drinking anything at the time.

Brenda said...

Ok, that's the stuff I like to read.......I am NOT a stitching person.......I love your rants. RANT ON!

Sharon Robb-Chism said...

Whoot...the rants are back! Let the snorting commence!

The Crow said...

Girlfriend, you were born for this!

Please get yourself a newspaper opinion column and go national. The rest of the country needs you, desperately!

(Ditto what Sharon wrote.)

theailurophile said...

I think there are funky politics everywhere, but those of us who live in Texas dine for days on this stuff...and we all have bigger-than-life stories. Thanks for sharing this...maybe this will morph into a political commentary blog...SNORT

monica said...

Brava! (wait, why does spellchuck think that's wrong??)

I also snorted.

A also would follow you to a private rant blog!

Zom Osborne said...

I enjoy both kinds of posts (please don't give up the stitching ones). So happy if you can use rude words once again and speculate about certain people's penise photos. :)

Linda Teddlie Minton said...

Ohboy,Ohboy, do I ever remember that Claytie screw-up! It may have been the first time I became really aware of Texas politics and politicians. What a great post, Ricë, thank you! (I almost called it a "column", because as someone else noted, you would make a GREAT newspaper columnist, along the lines of Leon Hale. Please consider it!) And thanks for many snorts today.

mo said...

based on the comments above, i think we're on to something big! we all miss Molly Ivins (and Ann Richards) AND we all love your writing, so ... become a political blogger and fill the void left by Molly. by George, i think we have it!!

see you there! said...

Great post! All I could think of when I read about Anthony Wiener was he took "a selfie" in a new direction.

Somehow the word selfie irks me, not the pictures so much, just the word. I think I heard it made it into the newest version of the dictionary too.


Laurie said...


CelticRose said...

ROTFLOL!! I love your rants, political or otherwise. :)

"Whoa! That would make a great photo! I wonder if this thing does macro?"
Best. line. ever.

Susan Johnson said...

OMG As I sat reading this post the smile on my face keep getting bigger and bigger. Add me to the list of folks who miss Ann Richards and Molly Ivins. Keep those rants coming - we all need a kick in the pants now and then.

Ricë said...

Thank you, thank you: I'm so glad I'm not the only one who thought that was funny. I'm way, way too easily amused and am afraid I find a *lot* of stuff funny that strikes most people as, "Eh."

madhabitz said...

God bless Molly Ivins. I miss both women, but Molly especially. She was pretty much the only one who could get me to listen political crud and she was for sure the only one I trusted. She was funny and smart as a whip.

Ricë, count me on the bandwagon. You could really forge yourself another career here and you wouldn't even have to start from scratch.


madhabitz said...

... and p.s. that stuff was hysterical. I didn't mention it before because I'm old and got sidetracked by Ms Molly. That's the one thing I like about old age, you know. You can claim age in all sorts of circumstances and people give you a pass, then when you perform well they call you a pistol. It's all good.

Kristi Wodek said...

I love your genuine spirit and the courage to share it. THANK YOU!!