I should be perfectly happy. I have another novel being published in the fall and another grandson being born in May. In the next few weeks, we’re seeing some wonderful music: Emmanuel Ax playing a Mozart piano concerto, conducted by Esa-Pekka Salonen … Gustavo Dudamel conducting Mahler’s Eighth “Symphony of a Thousand” … Raul Malo of the Mavericks in a solo show. And we’re seeing Samuel Beckett’s HAPPY DAYS in what I hope will be a great performance by Diane Wiest.
I sent the copyedited manuscript of WHEN I GOT OUT back to my publisher after two-plus hard-working weeks, going over the edits from my meticulous copyeditor and trying to “perfect” my changes: all of it making the book better.
And it’s been a good year for the roses.
But all my happiness is compromised these days because it’s hard to think about anything but TRUMP. (And the whole rotten GOP. Did you see Mitch McConnell already gloating about how he’ll be “the Grim Reaper” in the Senate, destroying any progressive legislation that comes out of a Democratic House? Disgusting. Take more Russian money, Mitch.)
It’s hard to do anything when our democracy is being attacked – from within. It’s almost too depressing to think about, and yet we must fight. Political junkie that I am, I’ve been checking out the field of Democratic candidates. None of them is perfect:
Joe Biden seems too old and out-of-touch. (His performance on “The View” was troubling.) He is everything wrong for today’s Democratic party: he’s old, white, and a product of the current, corporate-friendly establishment. Joe Biden isn’t going to rock the boat, and most of the party wants to rock the boat – hard. There is nothing new about Joe Biden, and the country needs something new. .) But he’s the safe choice for the nation, if not the party. The American people know and trust him. He can beat Trump.
I love Bernie Sanders. He’s right on the issues. For many years, I listened to Thom Hartmann’s radio show when he would have Bernie on every Friday for “Brunch With Bernie,” where callers could ask him anything. And he always gave honest answers. He is the true independent in the field. I love Bernie Sanders but America isn’t going to elect as president a democratic socialist from Brooklyn – and I AM a democratic socialist from Brooklyn. Trump and the GOP will rip Bernie apart with slander, lies, mischaracterizations, and anti-Semitism. But he should stay in the race: already he has done historic work, pulling the Democratic party back to the Left.
I love Elizabeth Warren, too. She’s right on the issues, too, with strong, specific proposals. She’s a good fighter, taking on Wall Street, but I don’t think she can win. Misogyny and lies can beat her. They’ll “Pocahontas” her night and day, hammering her with ridicule. And there is something a little “school marm”-y about her, that brilliant Harvard Law Professor thing, that will turn a lot of stupid people off. Again, it’s misogyny, but a factor if we want to beat Trump.
I like Kamala Harris, even though she should have done better at that recent CNN Town Hall. She’s attractive, focused, and aggressive. She’ll be the VP candidate, no matter who is nominated for president.
Like everybody, I’m charmed by Mayor Pete. I’m even getting good at saying his last name: BOOT-EDGE-EDGE … or is it BUDDHA-JIDGE? Either way, he’s a smarty, which always works for me. The son of two professors, he brings the best brain to national politics since … well, since Barack Obama. But there are multiple questions with Mayor Pete: he’s 37 and has experience as a small town mayor only. And the big one: is America ready for a gay president? American prejudice runs very deep. Nominating Buttigieg is a risk. (But he gets extra points for having as his wedding song Alison Krauss’ “When You Say Nothing At All.”)
Cory Booker can appeal to both the progressive and centrist wings of the Democratic party. I’m not sure how much of a boat-rocker he is; he sure knows how to get along with Big Pharma, the main power in New Jersey politics. I want to see more of him. There hasn’t been a bachelor president since James Buchanan. Will that turn on or turn off voters?
I like Amy Klobuchar. She’s one of those good, hard-working Midwestern Dems like Sherrod Brown, Al Franken, Jan Scharansky, etc., whom I really value. She’s tough – and not just on her staff.
Beto O’Rourke is out building grass roots support, under the national media. I need to know more about him, besides the fact that he almost beat Ted Cruz in Texas. I wonder if Mayor Pete has pre-empted him as the “new, smart guy.”
Kirsten Gillibrand is pretty and clever and pretty ruthless. Within the party, she will never live down her Al Franken and Bill Clinton takedowns. I don’t know whether to admire her tactical approach to politics, starting in a blue upstate New York congressional district with some purple positions, or disdain them. She went to Dartmouth, and I’m inclined to distrust Dartmouth people. (And that’s not just a teaser for WHEN I GOT OUT.)
I need to know more about Julian Castro. Andrew Yang, too. I think Jay Inslee is running for head of the EPA in a Democratic administration: not a bad force in the conversation. I think Tulsi Gabbard and Seth Moulton are fake-Dems. Not to be trusted. And there are more people out there. Eric Swalwell is a good man, building his future.
Let’s see how things work out, and hope the campaign can focus on issues and values instead of candidate gaffes.
In any case, all of the candidates should agree on this pledge from the fine people at INDIVISIBLE –
The “We Are Indivisible” Pledge
We must defeat Donald Trump. The first step is a primary contest that produces a strong Democratic nominee. The second step is winning the general election. We will not accept anything less. To ensure this outcome, I pledge to:
1. Make the primary constructive. We'll make the primary election about our hopes for the future, and a robust debate of values, vision and the contest of ideas. We’ll remain grounded in our shared values, even if we support different candidates.
2. Rally behind the winner. We'll support the ultimate Democratic nominee, whoever it is—period. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No third-party threats.
3. Do the work to beat Trump. We’re the grassroots army that’s going to power the nominee to victory, and we’ll show up to make calls, knock doors, and do whatever it takes.
1. Make the primary constructive. I’ll respect the other candidates and make the primary election about inspiring voters with my vision for the future.
2. Rally behind the winner. I’ll support the ultimate Democratic nominee, whoever it is—period. No Monday morning quarterbacking. No third-party threats. Immediately after there’s a nominee, I’ll endorse.
3. Do the work to beat Trump. I will do everything in my power to make the Democratic Nominee the next President of the United States. As soon as there is a nominee, I will put myself at the disposal of the campaign.
It’s going to hard for the candidates to keep that pledge when the campaign heats up and the sharp elbows come out.
In the meantime, Congress should keep investigating. We need public testimony from Trump’s slippery confederates, including Fixer-in-Chief Robert Barr and Plane-Lander Robert Rosenstein, and the release of the unredacted Mueller report.
I watch Fox News (when the TG is out of the room: she can’t stand to have it on in her presence) and I listen to right-wing talk radio (until I can’t stand it anymore.) The GOP is messaging that Trump is completely innocent and is the victim because that’s what he says. That’s why there’s all this nonsensical, unchallenged “coup” talk. They’re still ranting about Peter Strzok, the FISA warrants, and Hillary’s emails. Millions of people hear this crap every day. Of course, government agencies were “spying” on the Trump campaigns. They had more than 100 contacts with the Russians! They should have been investigated.
In the meantime, let’s “Benghazi” Trump for a while with constant investigations of his many wrong-doings and drive his negatives through the roof. Keep doing it, and they’ll be only a few dead-enders in the 30%-range.
Whether by impeachment or defeat in 2020, Trump must go.
Start to make up your own mind and pick your own favorite. Right now, I’m undecided, but as I’ve said many times: Any Democrat is better than any Republican.
Bernie Sanders’ site
Amy Klobuchar’s site
Pete Buttigieg’s site
Cory Booker’s site
Elizabeth Warren’s site
Kamala Harris’s site
Eric Swalwell’s site
Kirsten Gillibrand’s site
And what am I going to do about things? For starters, I’m going to drive my convertible in Memorial Day and July 4th parades for my local Democratic club, carrying some Democratic office holder.
Maybe I’ll get Adam Schiff this year. (Last year, I was in the car behind him.)
And I’m going to take that Indivisble Pledge for the “Grassroots” – to know more and do the work when the time comes.
You always hear, “This is the most important presidential election of our lifetime.” But 2020 really will be the most important of our lifetime. Trump got in on a fluke of the electoral college and with the help of a foreign adversary. (Treason, anyone?)
But if we RE-ELECT him, the America I love will be finished. (As it is, millions of people will vote for this ignorant, destructive clown.)
And as the soundtrack to my otherwise wonderful microlife –
George Jones – “A Good Year for the Roses”
Emmanuel Ax playing Mozart’s Piano Concerto No.22 in E-flat, K.482 with the Bavarian Radio Symphony – This is what we will hear. It’s one of this great pianist’s specialties.
Dudamel conducting the Los Angeles Philharmonic in Mahler’s Eighth Symphony “Symphony of a Thousand” – from Caracas in 2012 – Monumental music-making.
Two hours of Raul Malo solo – from Knuckleheads Garage in Kansas City – May 13, 2018 – One of the greatest voices in popular music ever. For instance, check out his “La Vie En Rose” at 1:10. Lots of goodies in this set. A magical “Stardust” at 1:51.
The trailer for the Yale Repertory Theatre production with Diane Wiest from 2017, coming to the Mark Taper in LA in May
HAPPY DAYS – with Irene Worth and George Voskovec (the Joseph Papp production, directed by Andrei Serban)
HAPPY DAYS – with the Irish actress Rosaleen Linehan and Richard Johnson – from the 2000 project Beckett On Film
The great Fiona Shaw on playing Winnie