Saturday, August 29, 2009

In Every Dream Home a Heartache

My Sacred Heart of Jesus vigil candle is from my Flickr page.

Redemptorists? Did they say Redemptorists?

Watching Ted Kennedy's funeral, with all the ex-Presidents and Obama and Michelle and everybody else in attendance, I heard the priest announce that the Church they are in, the Basilica of Our Lady of Perpetual Help, is run by the Redemptorists. That is to say, the order founded by one St Alphonsus de Liguori, an Opus Dei pin-up, major dogmatic hard-ass and Doctor of the Church, who is probably spinning madly in his grave.

I suddenly get a flash of one of Fellini's priests, reaching through the flimsy confessional screen and whacking young Teddy in disdain: You're a bad, bad boy, Ted Kennedy! (Yes, the priests in my Fellini fantasy have Irish accents, which I realize doesn't quite mesh, but they all acted the same: WHACK, upside the head.)

Again, rules are suspended for some people and not others.

I've been thinking about the matter of Ted, and similar men, who are littered throughout the Left and the Democratic Party. Men who do "the right thing" politically, yet abuse women and treat them like their personal blow-up dolls.*

I realize that Ted Kennedy's death has 'triggered' me, as the young bloggers say, and I am reacting to all the guys I have known throughout my life, who have been good political comrades, but also: constantly cheated on their partners; beat their wives (then usually known as the more benevolent "smacking around"); told women to shut up or called them stupid in meetings; would not pay child support; sexually harassed women with whom they worked on political events and campaigns; rewarded women who slept with them with high positions of authority, etc etc etc. And yet, we would rarely challenge these men, because they were savvy enough to do the right thing politically, even heroically. These men would stand up to even more dangerous men, men who would deny women's rights.

The juxtaposition of these men would sometimes make me dizzy --which one is the good guy?--I once thought, as I saw two local politicos debating on TV. The lefty, named Eric, had once physically-shaken me very hard (as you would a toddler) during a heated conversation. To make it worse, the supposedly-feminist lefties who witnessed this act, including my first husband, obediently stated that Eric was "out of line"--but of course, would not confront him or tell him his actions were violent. And there he was on TV, Mr Peacenik! (FUCK YOU, I thought.)

But the guy he was debating on TV? One of those "Drop the bomb and let God sort em out!" kinda Republicans that grow like corn in the Midwest. Certainly, I knew Eric was better... wasn't he? Wasn't he?

I realized, watching Eric run his arrogant mouth on TV, that I didn't know how the right-winger treated his wife. And he might be nicer to women in his personal life and one-to-one interactions, than Eric was. The thought crept into my head without my consent, shocking me.

If the personal is political, I thought, shouldn't that matter?

I thought of this yet again when video clips of Kennedy's speech at the 1988 Democratic Convention were shown on CNN the other night. The speech included the now-famous "Where was George?" refrain (referring to Bush senior). Blah blah blah happened, and WHERE WAS GEORGE? Blah blah blah happened, and WHERE WAS GEORGE? They keep showing it, to show what a great fighter Teddy was.

Am I the only one who remembers George Bush Senior's response to that question, which he delivered at the Republican Convention the following month?

"Where was George? In bed with his wife!" --he said, to Republican cheers and screams.

I am pretty sure a woman, Peggy Noonan, wrote that line.


My other posts on Ted Kennedy are here: Mary Jo Kopechne 1940-1969 and More on Ted Kennedy.


* And when I think of blow-up dolls, I think of the Roxy Music song that is the title of this post. I wish Lester Bangs had not been so nasty to Bryan Ferry, but yes, that's another post.

Desperately trying to learn not to DIGRESS so badly...

In Every Dream Home a Heartache - Roxy Music