Dumb quote of the day--if only they were really that awesome edition

>> Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Woodstock is the great American orgy. This is who the Democratic Party has become. They have become the party of Woodstock. The prey upon our most basic primal lusts, and that’s sex. And the whole abortion culture, it's not about life. It's about sexual freedom. That's what it's about. Homosexuality. It's about sexual freedom.
-Rick Santorum, as quoted by Fatima Najiy,
"Santorum: The Democratic Party Is About 'Homosexuality'",
Talking Points Memo, February 21st, 2012

I'm an independent. Which probably doesn't mean what a lot of pundits and political consultants seem to think it means: it doesn't mean I sway, free and clear in the breeze, voting for whichever candidate's name I hear being whispered on the wind. What it means is that the United States doesn't have a viable Democratic Socialist party to throw my lot in with, else I'd happily cast in with them. No, we have two parties, Democrats and Republicans, and one of those is a center-right party with a few liberal outliers and the other is an increasingly dysfunctional tent embracing a motley rabble of fiscal conservatives, Randian objectivists, Christian mullahs, cryptofascists, reactionaries, un-self-aware white supremacists, libertarians, et al.; you know, I don't want to be too harsh on the GOP in this context, because, honestly, I have friends and probably family members who I think are pretty good people but still affiliate with the Republicans because somewhere in their heart they hope some kind of latter-day Dwight Eisenhower or Nelson Rockefeller will emerge as the voice of calm, reasonable, technocratic small government, responsible men in grey suits and all that, and they just can't face the ugly fact that the GOP has become a troop of apes and the latter-day Eisenhowers and Rockefellers are, in fact, pretty much the spine of the modern Democratic Party. (I think I've said it before, as quite a few others have, and I'll say it again: Obama, for better or worse, is more Ike--or even Nixon--than FDR.)

But the point I was trying to get at before I got diverted was: I'm an independent because the Democrats are too right-wing for my tastes, not because I'm some kind of ideologically-inchoate swing voter. I'm quite sure this isn't unique or rare on my part: I am pretty sure, speaking anecdotally here, that most "independents" in fact vote for one party or the other with nearly relentless and infallible consistency, they just don't want to be a member of that party for various reasons, the biggest probably being that the party they always vote for isn't really a match for their firmly-held views, but it will have to do yet again.

A year or two ago, I was taking stock one morning, and I wondered why I didn't just suck it up and change my registration to Democrat. And then the Dems fucked up something else again--one of these showdowns with the House teabaggers where the Dems just seemed to cave too quickly--and reminded me. "Ah, yes, that's why I'm not a Democrat." And so I remain an independent.

Except, you know, what's really funny is that there are so many Republicans out there making the Democrats' case better than they do, or, more often, caricaturing the Democrats in a way that makes them more appealing to an old leftie than they really are. Normally, it's when a Republican calls the President or some other rival a "socialist", and then my ears perk up--it's sad, really, that I still do this--and I say, "Really?" and I'm sure my eyes shine for a moment, but, no, it inevitably turns out that it's yet another person who doesn't know what the word "socialist" means, they just think it's a pejorative and if they had any imagination they would have said "subway molester" or "fart fetishist" instead, and I am let down. (Worse still, the punchline these days always seems to be that the Republican is referring to some "new" Democratic proposal that is, nearly inevitably, nothing less or more than a regrooved tire originally manufactured by the Nixon Administration.)

This time it's a little different: this time, it's an old (2008) line from Rick "Frothy Mix" Santorum where he accused the Democrats of being the sexy party. Which, you know, is awesome. Or would be, or could be. I mean, aside from Rick Santorum, who doesn't like sex? Sex rocks. Sex is win. Sex is the most fun one or more people can have without having to wait in line and pay ten-fifty, or close to twenty bucks for the version involving those uncomfortable plastic glasses. Sex is so awesome that almost every other awesome thing humans do or have done is or was related to an attempt to have more sex: the majority of human cultural attainment can be traced back to someone's attempt to get laid.

(Including Woodstock. Chicks really dig musicians, dude.)

Speaking of getting laid, my favorite Santorum line from the Q&A the above quote comes from is actually immediately after the quote. Santorum added:

All of the things are about sexual freedom, and they hate to be called on them. They try to somehow or other tie this to the Founding Father’s vision of liberty, which is bizarre. It’s ridiculous.

History students ought to get a good chortle out of that one. Benjamin Franklin was a notorious womanizer who fathered at least one illegitimate child. Thomas Jefferson had an extramarital relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings, for nearly a quarter of a century, beginning when she was a teenager. Alexander Hamilton conducted an affair with Maria Reynolds (both were married to other people), resulting in the nation's first sex scandal. (The man who shot Alexander Hamilton, Aaron Burr, may have fathered two illegitimate children with one of his servants.) That's just off the cuff, you know.

I wouldn't want to overstate the case; the Founding Fathers actually had a bit of a history of doing things they otherwise condemned--passing the Alien And Sedition Acts after writing the First Amendment, owning slaves while being troubled by the peculiar institution, etc. They obviously weren't saints, centuries of effort by various hacks to canonize them notwithstanding. That several of them might have been public prudes and private libertines wouldn't have been exceptionally or unusually hypocritical, it would have been pretty much on par. And they were a varied group of individuals, not the monolith described by the phrase "Founding Fathers": they argued, disagreed, fought (literally shooting at each other in one instance already alluded to). As far as free love and marital fidelity goes, George Washington and John Adams were (so far as we know) just as faithful to their wives as Jefferson and Hamilton weren't (and nobody got around as much as old Ben Franklin).

But there's something unintentionally funny about Santorum trying to implicitly whitewash the Founders and their "vision of liberty" by excluding the Clintonian and Kennedyesque sexual appetites, morals and behaviors of quite a lot of them. Whatever you want to say about Ben Franklin's "vision of liberty", if you at least go by what he practiced (regardless of what he may have preached) it includes the freedom to have a common-law marriage to the woman you're living with, a chance to knock up some other lady you just happen to know, and a great deal of hitting on Frenchwomen. Jefferson's practices included sleeping with his wife's marital property, and Hamilton's included stepping out on his wife and paying off his girlfriend's husband to keep his mouth shut about it. I was perhaps wrong to use the awkward neologisms "Clintonian" and "Kennedyesque": the Founders make Bill Clinton and JFK look like unserious happy hour amateurs hitting on women whose shifts just ended.

No, wait: I have to take that back, too: Ben Franklin never nailed Marilyn Monroe, so I guess JFK gets a technical victory. Still. Only just. And the minute someone invents a time machine, I think we can make it happen.


Tom Friday, February 24, 2012 at 3:03:00 PM EST  

Well, I don't know about you, but if I have that time machine, fuck
Ben Franklin! I'm goin' for Marilyn! I'll be an Unfounded Father, and y'all can worship me and my bills and constitution. I try to take a constitutional several times a week. And my bills are, wait for it...

Nick from the O.C.,  Sunday, February 26, 2012 at 2:00:00 AM EST  

I hate to judge people by what they said 4 years ago, but goddammit so much. Santorum's 2008 rants are NOT funny, they are pathetic. Especially the rant about how Obama isn't REALLY a Christian, given that the United Church of Christ isn't considered (by Santorum) to be a part of Christendom.

Hey, that's MY church. That's my family's church. A bit "progressive" perhaps, but still firmly Christian. As I understand it, the UCC roots can be traced back to the Quakers.

He didn't just insult Obama. He insulted all the members of UCC.

And now he's taking on the "hippies" of the sixties, 50 years after the fact.

Dude, perhaps we didn't turn out for McGovern, but we vote today.

(All right I was too young to have voted for McGovern, but still.) I swear that if Santorum is the GOP candidate then I'm making the max donation to Obama.

Herbert Barger,  Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 4:30:00 PM EDT  

There is NO proof that Thomas Jefferson fathered Sally Hemings children. See www.tjheritage.org and www.jeffersondnastudy.com.

Eric Tuesday, April 24, 2012 at 6:06:00 PM EDT  

Herbert, thanks for commenting. There is extremely strong circumstantial evidence, including DNA evidence based on a Y-chromosome match, that Thomas Jefferson fathered Hemmings' children. That evidence, as you suggest, isn't beyond debate, but it is sufficient for most historians (and for myself, frankly) to conclude Jefferson's paternity is highly probable. In legal terms, I would say there's certainly probable cause and a civil standard (i.e. a preponderance of the evidence) would be met; I'll concede a reasonable mind might differ as to "beyond a reasonable doubt".

Monticello takes an agnostic position but notes most historians agree Jefferson and Hemmings had a relationship and Jefferson fathered the Hemmings children. The summary of facts provided there certainly offers evidence of Jeffersonian paternity, however you want to weigh it as "proof". Interested parties might also consider Wikipedia's summary of the debate over the Jefferson-Hemmings relationship (or possible lack thereof).

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