To Comfort The Afflicted
And Afflict The Comfortable

To Comfort The Afflicted And Afflict The Comfortable

Sunday, October 25, 2020

New Observercast

Masturbating On The Edge Of The Apocalypse

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BY ALEXANDER COCKBURN

It’s the merry laugh on the edge of the abyss. Christine O’Donnell, senatorial candidate with her “no hand jobs” program has cast an unfamiliar ray of sunshine over the surreal landscape of American politics.

In terms of fun, this has been a bleak decade. Not since Monica Lewinsky eagerly confided to friends she was strapping on her kneepads for service in Bill Clinton’s Oval Office have politics offered as such simple enjoyment as O’Donnell, the Tea Party girl [41 but still young at heart] from Delaware, visibly bursting with sexual pizzazz, chuckling merrily as solemn reporters rake through what they piously term her “troubling” resume.

This same resume is mostly par for the course for millions of Americans [a lien from the Internal Revenue Service against unpaid taxes] or business as usual for 95% of all members of Congress – use of political funds for personal expenditures.

“But that was when I was in high school!” she cries gaily when they play the clip from Bill Maher’s Show in 1999 when she gave us the great line, “I dabbled in witchcraft but I never joined a coven,” so much more alluring a denial than Clinton’s “but I never inhaled.”

How could one not yearn for O’Donnell’s victory Nov. 2 over stuffy Democrat Chris Coons when she goes on, “One of my first dates with a witch was on a satanic altar, and I didn’t know it. I mean, there’s a little blood there and stuff like that … ”

And famously, too, O’Donnell has nixed masturbation, on the grounds that autotelic satisfaction is by definition a betrayal of the moral principle that lust should only be satisfied by conjunction with a marriage partner [of the opposite sex.] Democrats cluck about the eccentricity of this position, thereby implying that in their view, masturbation is a perfectly respectable practice and only a kook would decry it. Back in Clinton-time, few of them rallied to the defense of Clinton’s Surgeon General, Joycelyn Elders, fired by the president in 1994 after she’d said that masturbation could “prevent young people from engaging in riskier forms of sexual activity” and as a part of human sexuality, “perhaps it should be taught.”

This is all light opera amid the shrill insanity of American politics, where Forbes magazine features on its cover a piece by Dinesh D’Souza advancing the proposition that “The U.S. is being ruled according to the dreams of a Luo tribesman of the 1950s. This philandering, inebriated African socialist, who raged against the world for denying him the realization of his anticolonial ambitions, is now setting the nation’s agenda through the reincarnation of his dreams in his son.” This utterly mad claim about the sedately imperialist Obama is then flourished by Newt Gingrich, one of the nation’s more prominent Republicans, who declares it to be “brilliant.”

The Democrats keep the focus on O’Donnell, somehow hoping that, thus primed, voters across America will come to the conclusion that Republicans are unfit to govern, and reject them Nov. 2.

It’s a very foolish strategy. Tea Party candidates promoted by Sarah Palin are doing well in some states. Not O’Donnell. It’s sadly clear that Delaware’s voters are now concluding that O’Donnell’s true vocation is on Maher’s show or as a follow-on from Bristol Palin’s appearance on “Dancing With the Stars.” She lags behind her Democratic opponent by 15 points in the race for Joe Biden’s former Senate seat.

But for Democrats to fixate on O’Donnell is like focusing on the “threat” of Little Red Riding Hood instead of taking a close look at the true threat lurking in the woods. This is a general popular fury with incumbent politicians, most particularly Democrats, since they control both houses of Congress, with a Democrat in the Oval Office. As a roadside sign I just saw in southern Oregon put it, “Remember to throw out the trash. Vote on November 2.”

It’s becoming clear that by the end of Election Day, Democrats could be reliving the terrible double punch they endured back in 1994 after two years of Bill Clinton: the loss of not only the House, but the Senate. The House is surely going Republican. Democrats can count on 192 certain seats in the next Congress, Republicans 205, with what the RealClearPolitics site – crunching the numbers – says are 38 seats “too close to call.” You can bet that this year, more of these will tend to fall the Republican side of the line.

In the Senate, Democrats, according to RCP, can count on 48 seats, Republican 46 with six too close to call. Of these six, at least four could go to Republicans, starting with Tea Party star Sharron Angle in Nevada and heading east through Colorado and Illinois to West Virginia. And in this year of Throw Out the Trash, Democrats can’t count on so-called “safe seats” to be truly safe.

Even as the left quavers theatrically about the O’Donnell threat, they are almost certain to lose their strongest antiwar voice in the U.S. Senate, Russ Feingold of Wisconsin. On Nov. 3 we could be heading into two years of a Republican Congress, infused with the inflamed certitudes of triumphant tea partiers.

Will Obama display the back-to-the-wall agility of Bill Clinton, triangulating back from political ruin? Probably not. Amid a fierce Depression and a Republican Congress, he will have exultant foes, disappointed supporters, scant options and thus a thousand knives raised and ready to plunge into his back.

It will be exciting, good for the journalism business, but surely not light-hearted fun. Enjoy O’Donnell for the next five weeks.

Alexander Cockburn is co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book Dime’s Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils, available through www.counterpunch.com.

Creators Syndicate

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Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton
Arnold Hamilton became editor of The Observer in September 2006. Previously, he served nearly two decades as the Dallas Morning News’ Oklahoma Bureau chief. He also covered government and politics for the San Jose Mercury News, the Dallas Times Herald, the Tulsa Tribune and the Oklahoma Journal.