The Base Convention

UPDATE: The following post makes heated accusations of rape against Bill Clinton. I believe those accusations to be accurate and founded on solid evidence. However, I repeatedly refer to him as a “rapist” when such a thing has not been proven in a court of law.

This post is based on the premise that I believe he is a rapist, and that colors my perception of the man and, at times, makes me somewhat irrational. Much of what I wrote here was based in emotion, not logic. Consequently, it is somewhat more vitriolic than is my usual metier.

It is essential to note at the outset that false accusations of rape are horrific, and they happen far too often. Please note, then, that what follows represents my opinion, not proven facts.

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So I’m watching the Democratic National Convention. I’m not enjoying it, but I was able to physically endure most of it until Bill Clinton’s smug, puffy face took the stage. Democrats look at that guy and see a hero, a genius, a standard bearer.

I see a rapist.

I’m not a fan of rapists. After the Akin debacle, you’d think that all of the people screaming about how horrific it is that someone could distinguish between “legitimate” or “illegitimate” rape might recoil from, you know, an actual rapist. But such was not the case. Every one of my liberal Facebook friends crowed about what a masterful speech it was and how it was going to turn everything around. “Clinton saved Obama last night,” wrote one. “Yes, and the country.” Wow. Not a bad night’s work for a rapist.

When I pointed this out to another liberal friend who’s entire focus in this election has been abortion rights, she responded, “I never believed a word of it.” After all, he’s never been convicted of rape, right? He’s only been accused very credibly by Juanita Brodderick, a woman who shares his political background and has corroborating witnesses who heard her recount the story at the time it happened. When Al Gore was asked about it, he demurred by saying that “I think that whatever mistakes he made in his personal life are in the minds of most Americans balanced against what he has done in his public life as president.” See, he gives a good speech, so that’s all that matters. Raping people is just a mistake some fellas make in their personal lives.

So is killing people, it seems.

I almost tore all my hair out watching the fawning Ted Kennedy tribute video on the first day of the convention. Folks, this guy drunkenly drove off a bridge with his mistress and then abandoned the woman to drown slowly in the submerged car’s receding air pocket while he frantically scrambled to get one of his friends to take the blame. When they wouldn’t, he swam across the bay, put on a suit, and walked out into a hotel lobby in the dead of night, and asked what time it was. That way, the clerk would know he had been at the hotel all night, and he’d have a cozy alibi for why he left a woman to die.

When I mentioned this, another Facebook friend referred to this as a “tragic accidental death.” No, a tragic accidental death is when you slip in a mud puddle and fall in front of a bus, or when you’re walking in the woods and a tree falls on you, or when you get smacked in the head with an asteroid. Having a guy drive you into a tidal channel and then make no attempt to save your life as you gasp for breath isn’t something that happens because you got up on the wrong side of the bed.

I was then told that I shouldn’t judge the guy based on just one incident in his life, because, you know, look at all the great stuff he did afterward! See, that’s the thing. Most people who kill people don’t get a chance to do great stuff afterward. John Hinckley, Ronald Reagan’s attempted assassin, is mad that people don’t see him as an artist and keep fixating on that whole tried-to-kill-the-president dealie. And, unlike ol’ Teddy, the great Leonardo di Hinckley didn’t even kill anybody! I mean, sure, he tried to bump off the leader of the free world, but have you seen his oil-on-canvas of dogs playing poker?

What makes this especially galling is that this whole convention, other than the Clinton and Michelle Obama speeches, has been one long harangue about how Republicans don’t respect the ladies. And by “respect the ladies,” they mean “support abortion up to and including the moment of natural childbirth.” Keep in mind that this is a country where recent polls show people who identify themselves as pro-life are a majority of the electorate, while pro-choicers stand at 41%. Tell me again how this is supposed to appeal to swing voters?

The answer, of course, is that it isn’t. All the people who fell madly in love with the former Rapist-in-Chief all over again were in love with him before the speech began. You really think undecideds sat through the rapist’s 45-minute wonkfest during a football game? It seems the Obamanistas have made the clear calculus that independents have turned and aren’t going to save them, so an energized base is their best bet.

And what better way to excite a base than with the basest possible human being they can find?

The Coming Romney Landslide

Just under the wire – in honor of today’s “Empty Chair Day.”

People fancy me a politico, and I’m approached by anxious Romneyites who see a tight race and wonder if Mitt’s going to be abe to pull it out. It happened on Sunday, in the halls at church. A guy pulled me aside and asked, with a note of panic in his voice, “Can Mitt really win this?”

My answer, which I now share with you, is yes. Yes, he can win this. Yes, he will win this. What’s more, he will win big. Landslide big.

This is neither bluster nor cockiness. It is a cold-eyed assessment of the facts.

“But the polls, Stallion!” I hear you cry. “The polls show a tight race!”

No, they don’t. The polls show that this would be a tight race… if exactly the same people showed up who showed up in 2008. Almost all the neck-and-neck polls presume that just as many Democrats as showed up when Obama was hardcore hopey changey will turn out this time around. In fact, some of them oversample Democrats, presuming that more Democrats will turn out in 2012 than showed up last time.

I don’t care if you’re a Republican or a Democrat – you have to recognize that that’s absurd.

Consider, for instance, a new Public Policy Polling poll headlined “No bounce for Romney in Florida.”

“No convention bounce? We’re doomed, Stallion! Doomed!”

Look at the poll. Under two seconds of scrutiny, it collapses entirely.

The poll presumes that the Democrats will have a four point advantage in Florida. In 2008, they had a three point advantage in the actual voting results. Florida’s even more on fire for Obama than they were in 2008? Not bloody likely.

Other polls tell an interesting story on that score.

A Rasmussen poll points out that 37.4% of Americans now identify themselves as Republicans. That’s compared to the 33.6% of people who consider themselves Democrats – an almost 4 point GOP advantage. This represents “the largest number of Republicans ever recorded by Rasmussen Report since monthly tracking began in November 2002.” To understand what a big deal this is, remember that when President Obama was inaugurated, Democrats had an almost nine-point advantage in the same survey! So a poll that tells you that Democrats will have a four point advantage and completely ignores that there has been a nearly thirteen-point partisan swing in the GOP’s direction is a poll that you can safely use to wrap fish.

My cousin was in Florida for a week this summer. “Man,” he said, “Obama is flooding the airwaves with anti-Romney stuff,” he said, “while I never saw a single Romney ad.” Yep, he’s right. Obama outspent Romney 3 to 1 and ran nothing but negative ads. And guess what? The numbers didn’t budge. And now Romney has a larger war chest than the incumbent president, and he’s getting ready to spend it when it matters.

Poor President Obama. The guy’s in serious, serious trouble.

Consider this poll – by lifelong party hack James Carville, no less. It, too, wildly oversamples Democrats and has Obama leading, 49% to Romney’s 47%. But it also claims Romney is leading among independents by a whopping 16 points. 16 points! Obama won independents in 2008 by 8 points four years ago. That’s a 24-point swing – in a poll conducted by the most partisan man alive. How do you lose independents by 16 points and still win the election? You need swarms of Democrats who didn’t vote for Obama last time coming out to vote this time.

Anyone think that’s going to happen? Yeah, me neither.

Poll after poll after poll has chronicled what pundits call the “enthusiasm gap.” Democrats are demoralized, while Republicans are fired up and loaded for bear. (Figuratively only, of course.) By way of anecdotal evidence, my brother-in-law is a law professor back east, and he has noted the change from the Obama frenzy among his students four years ago and the complete apathy among young people now.

See, what’s remarkable in all these polls is that even with the oversampled Democrats, Romney’s still neck-and-neck. Restructure the poll based on a 4-point Republican advantage, and Romney’s winning comfortably, with numbers at or above 50%. Dick Morris, professional weenie, has a poll where Romney’s at 50, and Obama’s at 43. Despite Morris’ weeniness, he’s the only pollster who seems to recognize that hope is hopeless and change has changed. Everyone else is still pretending it’s 2008. Maybe that makes the Democratic voters at large feel better, but you know who isn’t buying the hype? Barack Obama.

Obama is running a flailing campaign. Short on money, vision, and voter enthusiasm, all he’s got is “Romney’s too rich! Romney’s a liar! Romney gives women cancer!” To be fair, that’s what Romney did to Gingrich and Santorum when he was behind, too. You can tell who’s losing based on the composure of the candidate. You watch the solid confidence of Romney compared to the frantic panic of Obama, and you know that both of them have seen the real numbers.

I’ll watch the DNC with eagerness, to see whether Obama can pull one final rabbit out of the hat. Because barring some kind of magical event or Todd Akin-style blunder, it will be very difficult for Mitt to lose this thing.

And Obama knows it.

Shakespeare Festival in Context

Just last year, NewSouth Books published a new edition of Mark Twain’s literary classic Huckleberry Finn.  Their version eliminated each usage of what some consider to be the most inflammatory and offensive racial epithet in the English language.

I thought about that this summer as I watched the Utah Shakespearean Festival’s production of To Kill a Mockingbird, where that same unspeakable epithet was used several times in the course of the play. Four of my children were in the audience, too. They bristled alongside me as vicious characters used that odious word to dehumanize a man who was sentenced to death as a result of their testimony.

But here’s the thing. Never once did I wish that they’d sanitized the play by replacing that hateful smear with something gentler. At no time did I feel it necessary to cover my children’s ears to prevent them from hearing such foul language. In fact, had they decided to mar this beautiful story by flinching from the ugliness at the heart of it, both the performers and the audience would have been diminished as a result.

Remember, we live in a country that once enslaved an entire race of people because of the color of their skin. Changing the way we depict this evil allows us to dull our collective conscience and forget by degrees. I mean, sure, we enslaved people and treated them like subhumans for decades after we ostensibly emancipated them, but at least we can pretend that we never called anybody names.

Hearing that awful word in the proper context puts the lie to that kind of thinking. It forces us to confront our past in order to prevent us from repeating it.

Of course, as with everything else, context is critical.

Two other plays at the Shakespearean Festival included dialogue that some would consider inappropriate. Both contained a single usage of a scatological vulgarity that is, from my perspective, far less explosive than Mockingbird’s epithet, but it’s a word you still can’t say on television.

The first such play we saw was Scapin, a breezy, screwball farce that, along with its single bad word, also featured several off-color jokes and double entendres. The next morning, a large number of patrons went to the festival’s free literary seminar to complain that the production was unnecessarily crude and unsuitable for families.

The following afternoon, we attended the festival’s production of Les Miserables, which made use of the same naughty word in one of its featured songs. And where Scapin’s sexual situations consisted mainly of innuendo, Les Miserables explicitly depicted the depravity of a 19th Century French brothel, leaving no doubt as to the vile conditions in which Fantine, one of the primary characters in the story, found herself as she attempted to earn enough money to support her daughter. At the end, audiences are moved to tears when the actors sing, “To love another person is to see the face of God.” That’s only because they have seen enough of the ugly circumstances the characters had to overcome in order to achieve such a lovely end.

The morning after Les Miz, nobody complained at all. That’s because stories that matter aren’t offensive, even if they might not seem that way at first glance.

Then, of course, there was Titus Andronicus, Shakespeare’s gory revenge fantasy in which everyone gets killed and folks get their limbs severed and two guys are butchered up and baked into pies. I’m not sure what the moral lesson is there, except that To Kill a Mockingbird might be a better date night choice.