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This Is What Democracy Looks Like

www.NationalView.org's Note From a Madman

November 13, 2008


An Early Presidency

Maybe President-Elect Obama can hire current President George W. Bush as an ambassador or something to represent him at various events. While the new President will take aim beginning on January 20th to fix all of his predecessor's mistakes and greed-born policies, someone will need to be around to meet championship athletic teams, attend Rotary dinners and cut ribbons at various shopping malls around the nation.

And George W. Bush is the right man for the job.

Questions surrounding what President-Elect Obama will offer up to President Clinton have been popping up since it became apparent that Obama would win the Democratic nomination. And it's not uncommon for the new President to use his surviving predecessors in various roles. Certainly former President Clinton could be used as a kind-of at-large ambassador or US representative throughout the world which still respects him

But what can George W. Bush be used for, other than late-night talk show television jokes?

Certainly the lack of respect due Bush(43) on the world stage has been earned (assuming that someone could actually "earn" a "lack" of something), but hey, we need someone to do the hand-shaking and back-patting which a President's supposed to do, so why not keep Bush in that job?

The front page of the White House's web site (www.whitehouse.gov) has no less than four such "meet-and-greet" events (plus one of the events a second time) occupying all most of its main page's center section:

"Latest News (headline with picture): President George W. Bush poses with members of the Florida State University Men's Outdoor Track and Field Team "
"President Bush Attends 2008 Bishop John T. Walker Memorial Dinner"
"President Bush Welcomes 2008 NCAA Sports Champions to the White House"
"President Bush Attends Rededication Ceremony of the Intrepid Sea, Air & Space Museum"
"September 15, 2008: Welcoming the President of the Republic of Ghana to the White House"


And if you're interested, the economy is mentioned as the fourth story on the site's right-hand side. It's accompanied by a picture of President Bush, lips parsed and hands clapping.


With the current administration in do-nothing mode, the G20 nations have asked President-Elect Barack Obama to have some input at the Bush-sponsored economic summit set for this weekend. Although Obama won't attend due to his statement and belief that there can be only one President at a time, he'd be considered foolish had he not responded with some form of representation at the summit. To that end, President-Elect Obama chose Bill Clinton's Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and former Republican Congressman Jim Leach as his representatives.

"This weekend's summit is an important opportunity to hear from the leaders of many of the world's largest economies. There is one president at a time in the United States, so the president-elect has asked Secretary Albright and Congressman Leach, an experienced and bipartisan team, to be available to meet with and listen to our friends and allies on his behalf."
-Obama senior foreign policy advisor Denis McDonough

It's nice to see Obama focus his presidency on global relations, along with reaching across the aisle this early, something Bush had promised but never cane through with as President.

So far, the transition process has been a semi-shadow presidency, and it has needed to be. Our nation has been suffering from a lack of leadership which rivals that of the most poorly run third-world nations on this planet. It is President-Elect Obama's job to change that and do so without stepping on the toes of someone as insecure and inept as George w. Bush.

In other words, we need President Obama's brand of leadership even before he is officially tasked with the job.

So far so good.

-Noah Greenberg

by Victoria A. Brownworth
copyright c 2008 San Francisco Bay Area Reporter, Inc.

We often love TV, but when we hate it, we really hate it.

We hated it a lot over the past 21 months of the election and wrote an awful lot of columns to that effect. We hated the biased TV reporting and endless punditry during the primaries. We hated the imbalanced TV reporting and even more endless punditry during the general election.

We never watched FOX because we like our news based on fact, not conspiracy theories. But we had to stop watching CNN, too, because the biases were just too sickening.

We thank the powers that be for giving us Rachel Maddow on MSNBC so we had someone liberal to watch after Keith Olbermann went on a testosterone rampage. His sexist commentary during the primary was so egregious, we sometimes thought he was a Republican just posing as a Democrat to make Democrats look bad.

But it’s all over now. At 8p.m. EST Nov.4, we knew for certain that Barack Obama would be the president-elect before the night ended. There would not be another gut-grinding debate over who got what electoral college votes and how close the popular vote was and how the popular vote and the electoral college vote didn’t jibe and which chads hung and which were dimpled and....

And for the first time since 1996, we had a president-elect who was the actual president-elect with a wide enough margin that there was no possibility of error.
That certainty alone made covering this election, as we have done for 21 interminable months, worthwhile.

But there was more–so much more. And that’s where the glory of TV comes in. Because through the fabulous immediacy of TV we could experience not just the private thrill of trouncing the Republicans soundly (sorry Log Cabin folks, but you had your eight years), but we could share with the entire nation in the incredible, five-hanky moment of watching America turn a page on the darkest corner of our collective history and prove beyond any shadow of any doubt that we believe in unity above all else and that race doesn’t, for the majority of us, matter one whit.

For 21 months FOX news tried hard to whip up a racist frenzy; they had succeeded during the primary in whipping up a sexist frenzy against Hillary Clinton. CNN seemed a willing participant in that racist tone as well, and they had also led their own sexism charge.

But these folks were trounced. Soundly. The channel was forever changed.

TV allowed us to be part of the vast array of spontaneous revelries throughout the country. We loved seeing the harmony of multi-cultural faces in Grant Park. We even loved seeing John McCain ceding defeat graciously and with some measure of awe for the historic nature of Obama’s win.

The TV pundits’ deconstruction will go on indefinitely, as it tends to do, however what we will take from the long election season is the true power of this country to once again supersede its ignominious past and move forward into the possibilities of the future as symbolized by Obama’s election.

TV had shown us some of the worst of America over the past 21 months in the actions and commentary from all those people desperate to hold women and people color in their second-class citizen places.

But on election night we got to see our country at its very best, when even the defeated were gracious and in awe. It was an extraordinarily powerful moment.

TV’s biggest star, Oprah Winfrey, without whom, as ABC’s *Nightline* did the math the night after the election (check it out at ABCnews.com), Obama might not have won the primary, was there in Grant Park with the hundreds of thousands of ordinary people sharing in the collective awe and joy of the moment.

On her November 7th live show, Oprah and actress Ali Wentworth, wife of ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, deconstructed election night. Stephanopoulos Skyped in from Washington to add his comments.

According to Stephanopoulos, the election of Obama ranks with those of FDR and Ronald Reagan as an ultimate history-changer.

Wentworth took it a step further, saying that America would forever after be seen in the context of before Obama and after Obama. Stephanopoulos tempered this by adding, “That depends on how he does as president.”

We disagree. Regardless of what Obama achieves or doesn’t, America doesn’t move backward. We leapt forward on election night and we saw the change reflected in the tear-streamed faces of people of all races, ethnicities, ages and genders.

In his first TV press conference on November 7th, which pundits and the Washington press corps argued was two days later than it should have been, Obama gave a tiny hint about his forthcoming presidency.

In response to questions, Obama repeatedly said America has only one president at a time and he did not want to send any mixed signals to other leaders or nations about who that president currently is.

It went unremarked, but not by us. Obama was referencing the Constitution, a document George Bush used to color on over the past eight years while Dick Cheney used it to start the fireplace at his undisclosed location.

Obama didn’t say much in his first press conference, frustrating reporters and pundits alike. But he did imply he has read *and*respects the Constitution.
That seemed like a helluva good start to us.

Election night was not without its cognitive dissonance. The extraordinary presidential win was tempered by the trouncing of same-sex marriage in California, Arizona and Florida.

In the news you’re not seeing, these votes were barely mentioned nationally and the national news has ignored the daily protests in California and Florida. Massive protests. Stopping traffic. Unreported on national news.

Apparently if you don’t report it, it didn’t happen.

We found it eerily coincidental that ABC’s top-rated *Grey’s Anatomy* chose election day to suddenly fire one of the stars in its lesbian/bisexual storyline, de-gay the other one and decided to de-gay a prospective third woman who joins the cast next week.

Brooke Smith, who has played lesbian doctor Erica Hahn on the series was told *two days*before her last show aired on November 6th that the show was indeed her last.

According to Smith, she was “stunned.” So, apparently, was her love-interest on the show, Sara Ramirez, who plays Callie. Both women had been very excited by the queer storyline and had been talking with reporters and tabloid TV shows about how ground-breaking it was.

Actress Melissa George was slated to become a third lesbian/bisexual character on the show when she joins *GA* next week, but her role has been re-written and she is fully hetero again.

This is not the first queer controversy for *GA.* At the end of 2006, the show faced criticism when then-star Isaiah Washington (Dr. Burke) got into a fight on-set with co-star T.R. Knight (Dr. O’Malley) who is openly gay. Washington called Knight a “faggot,” prompting co-star Patrick Dempsey (Dr. Shepherd) to slug Washington.

When the tussle hit the tabloid TV shows, Washington was in the hot seat, but not let go. But when Washington repeated the word “faggot” at the Golden Globe Awards, he was told by the show’s producers he needed to get help. He entered rehab for homophobia for eight days, but it didn’t take and Washington was let go from the show.

According to ABC sources, the surprise exit by Smith from *GA* was augured by ABC, not by the show’s creator, Shondra Rhimes. Apparently ABC was decidedly uncomfortable with the sexual relationship between Erica and Callie, even though during their relationship Callie spent more time in bed with Dr. Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) than she did with Erica.

We admit we never liked Erica, but we do like Callie and she does seem to be truly bisexual at this juncture. The idea that she and Erica would just break up instantly over a work-related issue and that Erica would leave her and the hospital strains credulity even in the context of a prime-time soap like *GA.*
Boo hiss to ABC on this one.

What we don’t get is how ABC can be so opposed to the lesbianism on *GA* and be so (no pun intended) broad-minded about the lesbian storyline that just landed back on *All My Children.*

Bianca Montgomery (the delightful Emmy-winning Eden Riegel) is back in Pine Valley after a year’s hiatus. She has a new partner, architect Reese Williams (Emmy-nominated Tamara Braun, who spent five years in the major role of Carly Corinthos on *General Hospital*). The two met in Paris, where Bianca has been living, and decided to have a child together. The baby, Gabrielle, was born prematurely during the tornado that hit Pine Valley a few weeks back. Bianca has another child, Miranda, who was born after Bianca was raped five years ago.

Bianca and Reese have all the makings of Pine Valley’s newest (and with some deaths and injuries during the storm, possibly only) super-couple.

It should be noted that Bianca has shared only a few on-screen kisses with her female lovers over the eight years since she came out while in high school.

But on the day Reese arrived it was kissing, kissing and more kissing. The next day, Reese got down on one knee and proposed marriage to Bianca, who accepted, but noted with some sadness, “But we can’t get married in Pennsylvania. We’ll have to have a commitment ceremony here and get married in Europe.”

Art reflects life.

On November 7th, Reese met Bianca’s mother, Erica Kane. (Susan Lucci, fresh from being voted off *Dancing with the Stars* after nearly breaking her foot.) Reese’s excitement at meeting her fiancée's mother was not returned. La Kane did her best to put on a brave face, but the shock when Bianca said the couple were marrying certainly registered.

It’s going to be a big, kiss-and-drama filled storyline like the on *GA* promised but never delivered.

In real life Braun is 37 and Riegel 27. How or if the show will play the age difference (Riegel looks even younger) is unclear, but Americans in Paris always have history and expect Reese to have one.

Over at CBS, queers are big news as well, with Luke and Noah involved in yet another skirmish in their love-does-not-run-smooth-on-soaps-especially-if-you-are-gay storyline.

Luke is battling homophobia on the couple’s Oakdale U campus and running for student body president against his former high school crush–and ultimate straight gay football player–Kevin.

Desperate to win, Luke decides to cheat (and he’s not even a Republican!), despite warnings from Noah and his friend Alison.

What does it say when there’s more same-sex action on daytime than prime-time? ABC even announced its decision to fire Smith on *Ellen,* via guest Patrick Dempsey.

Gotta love the tube! Stay tuned.

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-Noah Greenberg