Thursday, March 06, 2008

The Kitchen Stink

he Kitchen Stink

I suppose if Barak Obama rips into negative campaigning, the press will call it the “whole tool box,”or say he’s throwing “the book” at Hillary.

But Hillary is the one generating a negative campaign, not Obama, so the strategy has been dubbed, “the kitchen sink.”

My kitchen sink is stainless steel. We use it all the time.

Here’s the thing.

We don’t throw it.

Throwing the kitchen sink ruins it. You have to tear it out. It leaves a gaping, jagged ugly hole in the kitchen. You need to replace it, quickly, or the family feels harassed.

When my mother would get particularly annoyed she would sometimes stand over the kitchen sink and say, “Damn, Hell, Spit!” Then she’d wash her hands, and go on with the day.

There are passions in any family, talking, times of silence.

One childhood friend, who lives in a huge estate, a mansion by any standards, finds her family gathers to talk, not in the living room, library, or parlor so much as around the kitchen sink.

So what about this New Politics of Civility?

Can we remain good natured and on point when spatulas, iron frying pans, honey pots, glass goblets, plates, knives, eggs, tea pots, forks, carrot peelers, turkey basters, butter knives, blender knives, a red telephone, a war, NAFTA, you name it — are flying through the air —

at us?

“How can a feminist NOT support Hillary?” people ask me.

It’s funny if you think about it.

The Anglo woman of privilege says of Barak Obama, you know — that tall black man raised in humble circumstances in a racist culture who is standing on an open platform in front of thirty thousand people in a forum where the best security in the world is basically neutralized by the situation — she says he isn’t tough enough to be president?

The red phone corn prongs.

The former First Lady who claims her husband’s presidency as the executive experience that prepares her to answer the late night emergency line at the White House cherry picks her husband’s “experience” taking credit for what is politically expedient. The phone turns out to be white, not red. She gets credit, but avoids responsibility.

The Iraqi iron skillet.

Never mind Bill Clinton dropped more tons of bombs in Iraq than the first Bush did. Never mind that Hillary voted to authorize the second Bush president to invade Iraq. Never mind 8 years of Clinton sponsored sanctions against Iraq killed a half million Iraqi children, and decimated the Iraqi infrastructure before Bush the Second got started.

The real estate crystal goblet.

The lawyer, who just barely got off in Savings and Loans scandals that caused thousands of people to lose their life savings, accuses Obama of getting a good deal on his house in Chicago.

The flaky friends rolling pin.

The former First Lady whose husband pardoned 149 convicted prisoners, most of them during his last days in office (a governor, a half brother, a cabinet member’s son, a CIA chief, and at least one major fund raiser, a former HUD secretary) accuses Obama of having a flaky associate in Chicago.

The NAFTA carving fork.

Hillary positions herself as champion of the working class assuming we will forget Bill Clinton signed NAFTA, fought for it —and then accuses her opponent’s adviser of telling Canada Obama’s anit-NAFTA stance is “just political rhetoric?”

The God and gravy swift boat.

Hillary says “as far as she knows” Obama isn’t a Muslim after her campaign or someone who supports her leaks an odd photo of him taken in Africa, in ceremonial Somali elder dress. She says she “sees no reason not to take him at his word.” This comment stinks any way you interpret it.

The Caucus stew pot.

Is the Clinton campaign going to file suit against the Party over the Texas Caucuses? Our local Channel 36 last night ran a story in which Clinton supporters said Obama precinct captains were told to be aggressive. We were, in fact, told to be friendly, fair, to follow the rules and to defuse arguments because these were our neighbors. We were even told to bring water and snacks because people might be hungry. CNN today is running stories about chaotic Texas caucuses, one story even said the process was new. It’s not. We’ve had caucuses for decades here. What’s new is the turnout. In my small precinct in the Zilker Neighborhood in Austin, we had 200 people sign in. The previously elected Precinct Chairman said last time three people showed up.

The politics-as-usual sieve.

What’s with the negative campaigning? Simple. She had to do it because she was losing.

Well, she’s still losing AND there’s a jagged hole in the kitchen, making it difficult for everyone to function.

Ok, and yes, I got some dirty looks from women my age at our caucus — but honestly, I’m tired of a politics of division, secrecy, and corporate money, and I think the kitchen sink, the book, the tool box should be used for the common good and not be weaponized.

©Susan Bright 2008

Susan Bright is the author of nineteen books of poetry. She is the editor of Plain View Press which since 1975 has published one-hundred-and-fifty books. Her work as a poet, publisher, activist and educator has taken her all over the United States and abroad. Her most recent book, The Layers of Our Seeing, is a collection of poetry, photographs and essays about peace done in collaboration with photographer Alan Pogue and Middle Eastern journalist, Muna Hamzeh.

*photo posted by Bratten Thompson on the zilker elist, 03/05/08, of the Caucus for Precinct 332 in South Austin


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Anonymous Anonymous said...

"She gets credit, but avoids responsibility. How feminist is that?"

I hope to meet you next month - we'll see. My question might've been, "How human is that?" But they actually seem to be a human traits: to shirk responsibility, to blame the other, to be almost totally self-absorbed.

For those who care, pay attention to what others are saying (I mean, really pay attention), stay engaged in life, practise compassion (talking about it is not sufficient), care about what you do.

12:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

good one!

1:32 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Awesome piece Susan! It really hit the spot. Thanks,

1:33 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i'm glad to read this susan. after it took me so long to make up my mind, i
made it up firmly and found reason after reason to reinforce my decision.
i'll support whomever gets the nomination but it will take some work to get
excited about hilary..


1:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Thank you! Very nicely done. And thanks for including the video - that was very positive. Why don't they show this stuff on the national news?

In my precinct (Cherrywood/French Place in central east Austin), 50.84% voted in the Democratic primary: 72.58% for Obama; 27.67% for Clinton, and a smattering of votes for other candidates. At the caucus:

642 people signed in with verified credentials (4 years ago, it was about 30-40)
Of those, 161 signed in for Clinton, and 481 signed in for Obama
The percentages are 25.08% and 74.92% respectively
the allocation of delegates to the county convention is 22 and 65

My husband and I get to be delegates to go to the county convention.

And the whole thing went surprisingly smoothly, even though we all had to wait 45 minutes extra for the last provisional voter to vote; and not all 641 of us could squeeze into the cafeteria at our precinct. But it was completely calm and friendly (after all, we are all neighbors), and the precinct captain and many volunteers were very nimble in dealing with such an enormous turnout. I hear those who stayed to the bitter end voted on 50 resolutions as well!

Viva Obama!

a feminist who believes I have the right to not for the woman candidate

2:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you...

3:08 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I admire your bravery .I admire you as a bright poet.I am going to translate your words for Iranina .
Thanks god for your pure heart.
YoursFarideh Hassanzadeh

7:21 PM  
Blogger respectisthehub said...

Great kitchen sink blowback analysis.

10:39 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Susan,
Good for you! I'm very tired of 1) top-down, clever Hilliary suggesting that her singular self will use her insider skills and connections to do for us what
we need. 2) her total failure to even hint that the first woman president might have some small bond and debt to the women who worked to make such an event

"I will be he first woman president" always sounds to me like she sees her achievements as singularly hers not the product of many many people fighting long and hard for social justice.

Incidentally, my own hypothesis is
that older women identify not with Hilliary because they are feminists but because they harbour a lot of resentment against the raw deals that they lived but did not fight. Hilliary is not the first new woman but the last old one.

You are the first one I have seen really raise the question of gaining executive privilege (make that experience) as fist lady (although you had reservations about Bill pushing NAFTA through).

I also think that if we believe
experience in the white house is a good credential we should not have 8 year term limit but give everybody a chance to claim this credential: let's let bill, and maybe W have another go.

Incidentally, her particular experience seems to me to be a lot of bad habits. If we do health care the way we did it in 1992 (which looks to be the plan--top down, Hilliary in charge, it will be just as bad--we don't need this.



8:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are painting Hillary as evil, yet you don't see that as negative. How can Obama fans not see the 1984 clip as negative? Both sides have been negative. Selecting a candidate is a personal choice, and respecting each other's choice does take considering that no one has a total grip on the truth of things. It is great to hope and to never let hope die. If Obama is really authentic, he will continue his mission whether he wins or looses the presidency. How will he deal with the difficulties of making change happen when he faces defeat? That is an issue that is truly unknown. Even he admitted that he does not know how he would have voted in the same situation that Hillary was in. So maybe a short track record really means less to bitch about and grounds for false hope. I will be interested in how his career plays out in reality. For now, be careful with the negativity or the Republicans might take the ticket.

9:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love it.

10:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This from Truthout -- (send them some money when you can)

Breaking the Final Rule
By Gary Hart
The Huffington Post

Friday 07 March 2008

It will come as a surprise to many people that there are rules in politics. Most of those rules are unwritten and are based on common understandings, acceptable practices, and the best interest of the political party a candidate seeks to lead. One of those rules is this: Do not provide ammunition to the opposition party that can be used to destroy your party's nominee. This is a hyper-truth where the presidential contest is concerned.

By saying that only she and John McCain are qualified to lead the country, particularly in times of crisis, Hillary Clinton has broken that rule, severely damaged the Democratic candidate who may well be the party's nominee, and, perhaps most ominously, revealed the unlimited lengths to which she will go to achieve power. She has essentially said that the Democratic party deserves to lose unless it nominates her.

As a veteran of red telephone ads and "where's the beef" cleverness, I am keenly aware that sharp elbows get thrown by those trailing in the fourth quarter (and sometimes even earlier). "Politics ain't beanbag," is the old slogan. But that does not mean that it must also be rule-or-ruin, me-first-and-only-me, my way or the highway. That is not politics. That is raw, unrestrained ambition for power that cannot accept the will of the voters.

Senator Obama is right to say the issue is judgment not years in Washington. If Mrs. Clinton loses the nomination, her failure will be traced to the date she voted to empower George W. Bush to invade Iraq. That is not the kind of judgment, or wisdom, required by the leader answering the phone in the night. For her now to claim that Senator Obama is not qualified to answer the crisis phone is the height of irony if not chutzpah, and calls into question whether her primary loyalty is to the Democratic party and the nation or to her own ambition.

10:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Note from SB:

Thanks to everyone for your comments.

The infant in the 1985 "red phone" clip today is appearing on all the news stations to tell people she supports Barak Obama.

What I was trying to say here is that the kitchen sink strategy from the Clinton campaign will back fire on everyone.

Remember her first words announcing her candidacy: "I'm in to win."

I think we need to go back to who wins if Dems attach Dems, to who supports which campaign -- and we have to decide as a nation if we want the dynasties to continue -- their corporate funders, their gestalt.

The Clinton people are putting out the notion that somehow to criticize Hillary is to demonize her.

I don't think I was doing that. I was using satire to make a point.

Look at the Clinton legacy -- Nafta, bombing in Iraq, the final hour pardons of major sleaze players who were their friends, relatives, and yes, Whitewater --

Filter your understanding of her attacks with that information.

If being First Lady or First Spouse prepares one for the Whitehouse, I guess the only way Obama can make it over that threshold is for Michele to be elected president. Not a bad idea actually.

It's the Clinton campaign that needs to cool it, the Obama folks are focused on the work at hand -- neighbor to neighbor, state to state.


10:50 AM  

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