Wednesday, March 26, 2008

The fat lady is practicing her scales

If you believe the David Brooks op-ed in yesterday's New York Times, it looks like it's time for Hillary to throw in the towel by graciously conceding the nomination to Obama for the good of the party, since she basically has no chance now of being the nominee herself. I think he's right. The remaining primaries are meaningless, the superdelegates are not going for her in droves, Obama weathered the Jeremiah Wright thing, so all she can hope for is a revelation that he has been hiring high-priced prostitutes — and you can be sure her people have already snooped as much as possible for any dirt of that sort. If she concedes, she helps not only the Dems, who can then turn all their attention to attacking McCain, but also herself. Instead of getting nothing out of a protracted fight except a reputation as s selfish sore loser, she could bargain for more power going forward, such as being Senate majority leader (the consensus is that neither she nor Obama would want her to be VP), or perhaps a cabinet post for her or Bill (that's my own speculation). But as yet there's no indication from anyone that Hillary would concede as of yet. In fact, Maureen Dowd wonders if Hillary is such a sore loser that she would rather see Obama lose the general election in 2008 and thus open the door for her to run again in 2012. She quotes someone as saying that "Hillary is going for the Tonya Harding option — if she can’t get the gold, kneecap her rival." It would indeed be a bitter pill for her to swallow after so many years in or near the White House, the early air of invincibility to her campaign, and the larger feeling of defeat for women in general and not just her.

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I saw my old friend E. for an afternoon drink this past weekend, which was wonderful, but also made me sort of sad because it brought into focus yet again how much of my pre-marriage-and-kids life has drifted away. Not just seeing friends, but doing things like going out to restaurants, movies, plays, etc. Most of this is my own fault. When the kids were small and demanded a lot of time and care, I was just too exhausted to do anything but go to bed right after they did. Now I've just retained the habit — the best moment of my day is settling into a warm bed with a good book in the evening — plus I flinch at the cost of babysitters. I'm much more of a cheapskate/frugal Yankee (pick your term) than Ben. I suppose I can take some cold comfort in bestowing equal-opportunity neglect on him as well as friends, since I'm not doing a whole lot of meaningful interaction with Ben either. It's the old story — you get into a routine of work, child care, running the household, finding a little time for yourself, getting enough sleep... and there's just no time or even inclination for anything else. Welcome to Love American Style. But what would I change if I could? If I worked fewer hours (leaving aside the financial implications), Ben and most of my friends are still at work all day. If I weren't married, or were in a childless marriage, I'd have plenty of time for going out on the town, travel, etc., but this is not a tradeoff I would ever want to make. My kids are perfect. My marriage is imperfect and could probably use more attention, but it's good enough — and even if it weren't, being a single mother is also not something I would ever consider. I'd live with anything short of actual physical or emotional abuse rather than put my kids through what I went through as a child of divorce... How did I get to this point of conjecture? I guess just thinking that the basic alternatives to my life are not good. I think it's a very American thing to wish for more things or different things rather than to appreciate what you've got. It's what made this country great (cue patriotic music), entrepreneurship, pulling yourself up by your bootstraps, the self-help movement, etc., etc., but it has its downsides. Doesn't mean you can't do some low-cost improvements on what you've got without chucking it all, however...

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