Green Means \”Impeach\”


The Juno Factor 2 – What If It Were Obama’s Kid Who Got Pregant?

In my last post, I pointed out that when teen pregnancy (or some other problematical social phenomenon) happens to others — particularly minorities — Republicans invariably consider it to be a moral plague, caused not by out-of-control hormones, but by out-of-their-minds liberals and their damnable liberal policies. However, when such a thing happens to one of their own — like Bristol Palin, the “Juno from Juneau” — then, of course, it becomes, using the same catchphrases of those same hated liberals, a “private matter” and “a family affair.” In this case, it may even be (glory hallelluia!) a cause for religious pride, due to the mother-to-be’s rejection of abortion and embrace of the venerable tradition of the shotgun wedding. (Never mind that, by any sane standard, neither Bristol nor her beau are anywhere near ready for Holy Matrimony.)

But let’s flip the script. Obama’s daughters are a tad too young to make Bristol’s mistake (they are about ten and seven, respectively). But what if they weren’t? I have a feeling that the Obama household keep a much tighter rein on their daughters than the Palins did. Yet these things occur in the best of families. So what would happen next?

The headlines would scream, “Obama’s daughter pregnant!” The news would sweep like wildfire through the blogosphere. Pundits would pontificate about this terrible blow to the campaign of the first black presidential nominee from a mainstream party, while hypocritically insisting that, of course, it shouldn’t matter. But of course it would matter, to white (and some black) voters of both parties. A pregnant Obama child would conjure up, in the imaginations of white people, images of countless black and Hispanic welfare mothers, parasitically draining the public treasury by their callous lack of self-control (though most welfare recipients, in fact, are white). Obama’s poll numbers would plummet approximately five times as fast as Bush’s did. McCain would publicly deplore the brouhaha, pretend to maintain focus on the “issues,” and swagger easily, smirking all the way, into the White House in January.

Why is this nightmare vision plausible? Because Americans, more even than most people around the world, tend to feel much more than they think — and feeling is essentially irrational. Symbol, myth and gesture, more than good sense —  or even common sense — rule our politics.

Americans might well take caution from a famous historical case of emotional prejudice triumphing over reason, to the detriment of all. In 19th Century Ireland, the parliamentarian Charles Stewart Parnell, through his tremendous political gifts and sheer charisma, became tremendously effective, far more than any Irish politican before or since, in bringing England around to the idea of respecting the Irish — and giving them a bit of freedom into the bargain. He was smeared by numerous scandals, including one which linked his name (through forged letters) to the infamous Phoenix Park murders, in which terrorists murdered two officials in that famous park in Dublin. Parnell survived all these tribulations and became in fact what he was commonly called by all: “the uncrowned king of Ireland.”

Then a fellow Irish MP named Captain O’Shea divorced his wife, Katherine O’Shea — and had the tactlessness to name Parnell as correspondent. Parnell, he claimed, had been his wife’s lover for years. Many assumed (and no doubt hoped) that this was just another smear. Unfortunately for Ireland, it wasn’t: its “king” was an adulterer. It didn’t matter a jot that he and Mrs. O’Shea were not casual sex partners (like so many of his fellow MPs and their mistresses), but hopelessly, devotedly and passionately in love; nor that she had been separated from Captain O’Shea even before she met Parnell; nor that, after her divorce became final, he did the honorable thing and married the lady immediately. The church hierarchy were furious, scandalized! And so were many humble and pious Catholic citizens — even some who owed their livelihoods to Parnell’s reforms.

From king, Parnell descended to renegade. Former allies now became bitter enemies. Ill but undaunted, our hero fought to bring himself and his cause back into his countrymen’s good graces. At one campaign stop, an enemy threw quicklime in his face. Manfully, he continued to make speeches, a bandana covering his injured eye, looking for all the world like a pirate. At last his body gave out. He died of pneumonia, age 45, and his cause died with him. It has been claimed that almost all Ireland’s political troubles for the next hundred years or so were caused directly or indirectly from the tragedy of Parnell’s fall — because the Irish preferred their puritanical morality to freedom.

Obama is no Parnell, of course. He is not a visionary (despite his visionary rhetoric), but a very clever and skillful politician, promising change with a militarist program that makes true change impossible. You should definitely vote against him, but not for the wrong reasons, particularly reasons of race — the issue which, when mixed with sex, is the real third rail of American politics. Nor for that matter, should you vote against McCain/Palin just because the daughter of the latter is in the family way. You should vote against them for their smugness, their hypocrisy, their double standard, their lack of humanity. That leaves only the third parties. If you’re a right-wing guy/gal, you should look into Bob Barr and the Libertarian Party. And if you’re a left-wing guy/gal, check out either Ralph Nader, running on the Independent Party line, or Cynthia McKinney of the Green Party. (Obviously, I’m biased toward the latter!)

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