Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Trouble With Cindy

The right wing smear machine went into overdrive this week. Their latest trick is a full blown propaganda blitz, the purpose of which is to transform the image of Michelle Obama from that of devoted wife and mother into an unpatriotic, militant and angry Black Bitch. My advice to them? Don't go there. Don't even think about going there. Have they forgotten the touchy subject of Cindy McCain's little problem with substance abuse a few years back? And you thought that Michelle had baggage? Oh, brother! My prediction is that any attempt to demonize Michelle Obama will only backfire on the candidacy of John McCain in the long run. On second thought: GO THERE.

While I was privately determined never to bring Cindy's past troubles up on this site, recent events have forced my hand. Barack Obama seems determined to keep his campaign above and out of sight of the gutter. Good for him. The American political process has gotten so dirty in recent years. It is a tribute to him and his campaign team that exploiting Cindy McCain's unfortunate history is beneath them. But it sure as hell ain't beneath me:

In 1994 Cindy McCain admitted that she stole drugs from a charity she founded called, the American Voluntary Medical Team. To fuel her addiction and conceal her identity, she would have the prescriptions filled out in the names of people on her staff.

I only mention this because the McCain camp is now in the process of exploiting a statement Ms. Obama inarticulately made in February when she proclaimed, "For the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country." That is a sentence that could indeed be taken out of context; much in the same way John McCain's words could be misinterpreted when he said - on three separate occasions - "I never loved my country until I was parted from her company". He was, of course, referring to the five years he spent as a P.O.W. during the Vietnam War. No serious, thoughtful and intelligent person is questioning Senator McCain's patriotism. Why is it, then, that so many fools on the far right are challenging Ms. Obama's love of country? What the hell is the matter with these people?

On the same morning that found Michelle mixing it up with the ladies on The View, Cindy was telling Good Morning America:

"All I know is that I have always been proud of my country."

Again, they really should be having second thoughts about this strategy. While it's true that all serious minded writers will recognize that Ms. McCain's battle with drug addiction is something that happens to a lot of good people for a lot of different reasons, it must also be remembered that there are disgusting and contemptible hacks, despicable yellow journalists who know that there is no depth too low to which they are perfectly willing - even happy - to sink. These are the type of people, not one of whom could be said to have any sense of fairness and decency. These are the type of people who are not above the exploitation of so tragic an incident for their own, cynical political profit....In other words, people like me:

This woman - who calls herself an American mother - was stoned night and day! Stealing drugs from a charity! A Charity, I tell you!!! All the while she was driving her poor little, innocent and frightened children around - to and from boarding school, doctors appointments, play dates, and private French lessons - under the influence of dangerous narcotics! And this sick, disgraceful, drug-addled, train wreck of a woman is someone the Republicans want representing this grand and glorious nation of ours as First Lady of the land??? NEVER, I say! A THOUSAND TIMES, NO!!!

You get the idea.

The most disturbing thing about the Cindy McCain affair is not the fact that she received no jail time (reasonable enough; it was her first offence....I think). The unsettling thing is that she was never even charged with a crime! Ask yourselves the following question: would Michelle Obama - under the same circumstances - have gotten off without so much as a slap on the wrist? An African American woman charged with stealing drugs? Are you kidding me? Our gal Michelle would have done at least thirty days in the Cook County jail - if she were lucky. I am not being speculative here. There are two different codes of justice for Blacks and Whites in this country. That is an undeniable fact of American life.

Another thing the crybabies in the GOP have been whining about is Michele Obama's college thesis in general and the following paragraph in particular:

"These experiences have made it apparent to me that the path I have chosen to follow by attending Princeton will likely lead to my further integration and/or assimilation into a White cultural and social structure that will only allow me to remain on the periphery of society, never becoming a full participant."

Let's examine that statement, shall we? Obviously, Michelle Obama is not by any means living on the "periphery of society". Obviously, she has become a "full participant" in American life. But it has to be conceded that when it comes to enjoying "the American way of life", most Black people - in fact, the overwhelming majority of them - remain marginalized. Surely she could not have dreamed that she would find herself married to a man who would be chosen to be the standard bearer for his political party when she wrote that paper over two decades ago. Sixty years ago, when people looked at a stunningly gorgeous and intelligent teenager named Jackie Bouvier and speculated that this girl would one day marry a president of the United States, it really wasn't that much of a stretch. To have said the same thing about nineteen-year-old Michelle LaVaughn Robinson, lovely and talented as she undoubtedly was (and is - I think she's a knockout!) would have been dismissed as ludicrous. Although this brilliant young woman had a great career ahead of her, she had every reason to believe that within two or three generations, her descendants would sink back into the grinding poverty and repression that is all-too-common with her people. With the possible exception of Clarence Thomas, Condoleeza Rice, and the guy on the Cream of Wheat box, there is hardly a person of color in this country who wouldn't still empathize with what Miss Robinson wrote all those years ago.

So let's get a grip here, folks. Michelle Obama is the exception; she's not the rule. To imply otherwise is - to be kind - delusional. Although attempting to portray her as a re-booted version of Angela Davis is too silly for words, there are a whole hell of a lot of people out there dumb enough to fall for it. That is what the Republicans are counting on. If you thought their swift-boating campaign of 2004 was reprehensible, as Al Jolson used to say, "You ain't seen nothin' yet". The racist and xenophobic tactics that they are already starting to use - the repeated use of Senator Obama's middle name, "Hussein"; the often stated lie that he is a madrassa-educated, fundamentalist Muslim; the veiled references to his race in order to frighten the less enlightened among us - are a mere prologue to what promises to be the dirtiest campaign since the Thomas Jefferson/John Adams contest of 1796. One of the accusations lodged against Jefferson that year was that he kept a "negro concubine" by the name of Sally Hemmings. Two-hundred and twelve years later, race is still the all-consuming issue in this silly country. What goes around, comes around, ya' know what I mean?

Michelle Obama and Cindy McCain aren't going to be nominated for sainthood anytime soon - that much is clear. Neither, for that matter, will their husbands. Call me crazy, but I have this vividly quaint notion that, instead of focusing on the candidate's wives, we might focus on the candidates themselves. In the long run, Michelle's stand on global warming is irrelevant. Cindy's view on affirmative action won't mean a damned thing in the final analysis. They are not running for president. The tactic of focusing on Ms. Obama's so-called "un-Americanism" is meant only to distract you from the issues that matter - as was my ranting about Ms McCain's former drug dependence. What matters is whether or not this country goes in a desperately needed new direction - not exaggerations and out-right lies about the women Barack Obama and John McCain chose to fall in love with and marry. Spreading false and malicious rumors about a candidate's wife is only the mark of political desperation and nothing more. Anyone who attempts to do so should be viewed with utter contempt.

Now if you'll excuse me, Cindy and I have a date to shoot-up some hard-core, kick-ass Afghan heroin in the back of my van.

Happy trails, kiddies!
Tom Degan
Goshen, NY


At 8:52 AM, Blogger Fabianna said...

Ah yes....the wives. I forgot about that political tactic. Let the games begin.

At 11:05 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"the veiled references to his race"

This one just makes the people doing it look like idiots. "{gasp!} You mean to say he's black? And so is his wife? I never noticed that until just now!"

~social democrat

At 5:03 PM, Blogger Prairie Waif said...

Now if you'll excuse me, Cindy and I have a date to shoot-up some hard-core, kick-ass Afghan heroin in the back of my van.

*THIS* would explain McCain's affection for visiting the "war zones."

I didn't know he traveled with a Diplomatic Pouch. Hmmm, the things ya learn.

And *YOU* got hooked-up? *WOW*, I don't know if you should be gobsmacked for hanging with a Republican or the Afghan Heroin (You *DO* know that the profits from the smack are going to Cheney, of course they are!). . .


At 7:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm glad you wrote this because I never knew these things about Cindy McCain. I guess she won't be asking Michelle the question "And have you ever used drugs illicitly....?"
These days, I find it nauseating to pick up an American flag, simply because I want to distance myself from the flag-waving scoundrels currently occupying our White House. Nor do I want to be like the pitiful flag waving fools who still think "America, love her or leave her," while our unrighteous leaders seek ever more ways to exploit and enslave us and destroy the rule of law that would hold them accountable.
Maybe the Obamas are a new kind of patriot, which I desperately hope they are, who will show their love for this country not by waving the flag but by fixing her worst problems. I think Barack is intelligent and well meaning, but I worry that he has taken too much corporate money and may not be free to follow his own conscious. Only time will tell.
I'll believe you're a heroin user if you'll believe I'm a crack addict! But only the organic stuff. After all, I do run a health food store and have a reputation to keep.
Very entertaining rant, thank you!
fearless flower

At 1:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Call me shallow, but have you ever looked at Cindy McCain's eyes? Mean, mean, mean.

Mary Eman

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Phil said...

The trouble with Cindy is that she reminds me of "Chuckie" in that horror flic a few years back. I suspect McCain married her not so much out of love as out of political expediency. Oh, well, karma rides on the backswing of the pendulum.

But seriously, Tom, Michelle do 30 days if caught stealing drugs? More like 30 years, including time off for good behavior. Okay, maybe not now, but certainly before Barack became immersed in politics and privvy to the power and influence his position carries.

And, of course, you're right! Michelle is a knockout; she and Barack make a very attractive couple, don't you think?

At 11:32 AM, Blogger charles moore said...

A great article, Tom (as usual) and I agree that if Michelle is going to be dragged into the fray, then Cindy is only fair game. And to Fearless Flower, thank you for your remarks about the flag and phony patriotism. I too am heartily sick of the idiotic, narrow minded, red necked flag waving set who thinks that is the standard by which everything and everyone should be judged.

At 3:29 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Tom,

I have posted comments on you blog before, and as I have mentioned in past posts, I work in the same building as McCain's Phoenix office. Years ago, we had many John and Cindy sitings, but in the past two years, they have not been around.

My favorite Cindy siting happened one day a couple years back. As I walked thru the lobby of our building, the McCain's yappy little dog was barking its head off... as it always does. I went out front and sat down on a bench to read, and Cindy came walking out carrying the dog. I overheard her scolding the dog saying, "You are using your outside voice inside. You must not do that." My jaw dropped. Now I admit, I have long conversations at home with my cats, but when company comes over, I try to refrain lest my sanity come into question. I looked Ms. McCain in the face and smiled, because we were sharing this humorous doggie moment. She looked right thru me. I saw no sign in her face that she saw another human being. I felt invisible or like I was a street bum she did not want to acknowledge. I was chilled to the bone. And yes, Mary, she does look very mean.

I believe the McCains are an extremely wealthy, elitist couple who want only to protect themselves and their lobbyist friends. WE the People do not register on their landscape. We are just votes to be acquired and then thrown away once they have reached their goal.

At least with the Obamas, I believe if I looked either in the face and smiled, I believe they would see me and smile back.

Jo Reside

At 3:55 PM, Blogger Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

Dear Jo,
Thanks so much for putting that great story on the historical record. And to think, you did it right here on "The Rant"!

All the best,

Tom Degan


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