End of the year ruminations. 2009 started on a high (with the Inauguration) and ends as 2008 ended: with the Obamas in Hawaii. Which brings up the Birthers, which I hope 2010 will see less of; again, it was John McCain who wasn't born in the United States of America. He was born in the Panama Canal zone, not yet a state and not likely to be one. Which was why the Birthers didn't gain any traction during the 2008 campaign, but came to notice as everyone, principally all Republicans, shed their best behavior and decided to only attack Obama in order to up their chances in 2012. It was odd seeing Arlen Specter on Fox News Sunday tell tales out of school, accusing his fellow Senator and interviewee, Jim DeMint, for plotting that strategy in the Republican caucus at the beginning of the year, when Specter was still a Republican. DeMint sputtered that he didn't want to "break" the president, only break his momentum. It was an odd moment of fair and balanced news on Fox.
Earlier on Fox's regular news, talking about the Delta Nigerian incident, one of Fox's minor anchors, a guy who looks like a young Republican, said, prefacing a question, that everyone knew where President Bush stood on terrorism, but most think that President Obama just doesn't "get it" when it comes to terrorism. That is the usual Fox tactic and what permeates through Rupert Murdoch's brand of televised yellow journalism.
But, back to the Birthers. What is extraordinary and not said often or ever (as far as I can tell) is among the many extraordinary firsts of Barack Obama, is the fact that he is the first president I know (not counting George Washington) who had a father who wasn't a citizen. An American. That's truly extraordinary. But, of course, one of the most remarkable feats of the decade (putting aside what the 19, mainly Saudi, hijackers pulled off on 9/11) was the election of Barack Obama at the end of the decade. In the year after 9/11, what would the odds have been that we would have a African-American president (a one generation African American)? I have asked this question before. A million-trillion to one might have been the odds. So, the election of Barack Obama is the most extraordinary event of the Zeroes.
Who would have predicted Tiger Woods's woes nine, ten years ago? Not many, except those who knew how he spent his limited down time. Woods, unlike Kobe Bryant, Bill Clinton, various politicians, won't bounce back from his sex scandal anytime soon and when and if he does he won't be the same man, the same salesman. He besmirched not so much his corporate sponsors, as he did all the white CEOs of America who loved him, personally. Tiger was their house whatever. Then he became for them, the usual Mandingo, the wild black guy with all the compliant white women. Not the tame, responsible, serious man of color who they so admired.
And the word of the Zeroes might be vagina. An odd choice, I know, but I have a counter example. An old friend of mine, now deceased, way back in 1972 published a book called Vaginal Politics. The hardback publisher at the time was Quadrangle Books, which was a division of the New York Times. And one of the female owners had the logo of the company removed from the spine of the cover, she was so displeased with the title. The author, Ellen Frankfort, was way ahead of her times. As a word, it hadn't caught on. But the Zeroes became the decade of the Vagina. The play The Vagina Monologues started in 1996, but really didn't catch fire until the very early 2000s. And catch fire it did. Back to the 19 hijackers; they're all men, if you didn't notice. America has been at war almost the entire decade with male dominated societies, so dominated that their persecution of women has become one of the reasons given for continuing this never-ending battle. And the young have flung the word about so freely, it has become somewhat oppressive, part of the main streaming of naughty words that are now a staple of internet journalism and successful sites such as Gawker and Wonkette. Who would have thought that that sort of language would be used so much in what passes for journalism these days? Rahm Emanuel? And kids have picked it up, too, creating the slang word, vag, which is evidently used in so-called sexting, pictures and all.
If one thinks of it, however scrambled, the Zeroes has been a new decade of the woman, even if Hillary Clinton didn't win the presidency. The guy who did certainly got a lot of women votes. Let's not forget: he was the peace candidate.
Happy New Year, for what it's worth.