I'm sorry I didn't write back to E.'s real letter as I've been busy, and spent Valentine's day at an aunt's wake in Boston. Then one thing and another came up. Thank you for writing fully on it.
Obama does have charisma, but that usually only makes me suspicious of a man. Seriously. As Bertold Brecht said, Woe to the country that needs Geniuses and Prophets!
Hillary does not have charisma, needless to say. And the truth is, I've never believed she was electable, so I don't know how I've ended up in the position I'm in. But in the past year(s) of her running, I've had to wonder why does she elicit so much enmity? Is it because she doesn't have charisma? (How could she have charisma? I remember when Vogue did the cover on her; the interviewer was looking for a newspaper in her office and asked Hillary's assistant what papers she read. The assistant explained that Ms. Clinton did not read newspapers. She read position papers from our government and others. I've never forgotten it, and I find it wholly believable.) Maybe it's because of those position papers, or maybe she doesn't have a persona that is interested in charm. What does it mean to be uninterested in charm, anyway? She married charm and knows about its dark undercurrents. (I've been reading a lot of poetics theory lately and it is well established that the death of the author is a good thing, like the death of an entrepreneurial authority full of quaint romantic values like "genius" and "charisma.") (Has Hillary been postmodern all this time and we never knew?)
Yesterday morning I woke up remembering my friend Andre's words about 9/11. It was the next month, and we were having breakfast at a cafe around the corner from my house, which was around the corner from the towers, and we were talking about the towers, of course. We didn't talk about anything else for months, it seems! He was raised in Soviet Russia, and is an architect and a professor, just our age, and he said, "We won't know what these towers meant -- maybe ever. Our children will know, but we won't, not really."
I thought that was so wise! And I still like it I certainly had a quite fixed idea of what the attack meant from the very beginning, but I was willing then and I'm still willing -- even happy to believe I'm wrong, and (what's more) that I can't be right, I'm too close to be right. But lots of people walked around like I did, dazed, taking the whole thing personally, whether they were on Wall Street or in Vermont, California, Peru.
So yesterday I thought (hoped) that must be how it is with Hillary. I've been rendered stupid on the subject by some proximity -- a proximity which isn't real at all! I just can't understand why she was so thoroughly rejected (and demeaned) by all the world's mouthpieces. Ten years from now I'll look back on her campaign and say, What the hell was that all about? Of course, I think I know -- I think she's complicated, I think she's a Clinton, I think she's taken politics too seriously. (Whatever the hell that means.) (Well, it means that she hasn't been able to play at politics, like you sense Bill did, and like you sense GWB did -- until the towers, the war going on and on -- and like Obama has come to look.) But I'll never believe that this damn thing isn't riddled with misogyny.
I've been thinking about when Diana died. Diana, princess of Wales! I can't recall if it was just after mother died or just before, but I was flabbergasted by the outpouring of insane identification from every magazine-reading chick in the country. Black, white, green, yellow, everybody was devastated about her. As if Diana represented some part of them, the princess inside who had been hounded through the French tunnels with a handsome billionaire boyfriend, and died. Oh the tears. Oh the drama. Psychologists had to write article after article about why Diana was so important, about why we connected so deeply to her.
And now we have an American woman who helped organize migrant workers forty years ago, registered Hispanics in the Rio Grande valley to vote, who worked for Civil Rights and for the ACLU and graduated at the top of her class then went to Yale Law -- the law school which has always had the reputation for churning out the best professors and philosophers of law, not the best practitioners -- a woman cheated on and humiliated by her husband whom she rightly saw, back in 1969, would be the president of the US -- but nobody identifies with this woman. Nobody cries when she works her ass off to make a health care plan that will work, to run for three years -- maybe she's been running for all 7 years she's been in the senate. Maureen Dowd, a self-hating misogynist if there ever was one, writes columns that repeatedly refer to her ankle size. If anyone was ever hounded by the press, it's Hillary Clinton, She made one crack about not staying home to bake cookies and she's been crucified ever since. Her hair has been a topic of much conversation since the 80's. (I've had about 45 colors since then.) I'm sure that some nights lately she wishes Rush Limbaugh and Dowd would go ahead and drive her into a nice thick wall and put an end to it all.
A day before the New York elections, a group of feminists including Katha Pollitt came out for Obama. I have been speechless ever since, and unable to write you back. Seriously. Every day I want to write the letter -- I had the stuff below in the drafts file in my computer -- and every day I could not. My husband of course voted for Obama, like almost everyone else I know in town. And still I'm walking around like I have personally been attacked, certain that the whole damned thing smells like misogyny, like our system's powerful hatred for a strong woman, our system preferring women who think they're just like Diana. Keep them thinking that way, racking up the credit cards, driving their SUV's. Our world loving the women eager to faint before Obama's Camelot talk.
A president like the Beatles, great. I just hope he's John or George -- Or Martin, maybe he's Martin.
I enclose the bit from Robin Morgan that I originally wanted you to read, and something a Republican friend sent about Obama in N.O.
I feel better having gotten some of this out. God bless America, babe,
----- Original Message -----
From: "Alexis Quinlan"
To: "E."; "Kate Parrish"
Sent: Tuesday, February 12, 2008 9:19 PM
Subject: the time has come
to talk politics.
I've been sort of upset about Hillary and unsure about Obama. I can't help feeling that if Obama were the descendent of slaves there's no way he'd be in this position -- we can only stand him because he won't ever throw slavery/lynching at white America. I also can't help but think that 90% of Hillary's problem is misogyny. Peter voted for Obama, as did many of our friends. I voted for Hill, of course. I'd have done it with a little more pride if I'd read this article by Robin Morgan ahead of time.
Check it out as it is full of amazing comparisons and insight.