Same job, different uniform.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Obama, Charisma

Piggybacking the Good Doctor's comments that Fred Thompson was too normal to run successfully for President, is my gathering concern about Barack Obama's "charisma." I'm not going to vote for the man in any race because he's too liberal (though I will give him some props on his immigration policy). And I think he's probably too liberal for most Americans. But the thing of it is, they are going to have a hard time figuring it out because of all that charisma.

I keep hearing what great charisma Obama has. Google "Obama, Charisma" and you will get and endless stream of articles, blogs and commentary. Today, because Caroline Kennedy endorsed him, I heard for the first time, comparisions to JFK - a President who is still popular today largely because of a myth perpetuated by and about charisma. He was handsome and young by Presidential standards. But he wasn't a great President. He died young and tragically. And he had all that charisma . . .

I mean, honestly - Why should it matter that the mostly non-politically active daughter of a former President (who died 45 years ago by the way!) endorses a candidate for president? Except that she is the last remaining heir to Camelot. Her uncle and cousin (Sen. Ted Kennedy and Rep. Patrick Kennedy), members of the inner-Camelot roundtable, also endorsed Obama. Both of these men have struggled with well-publicized chemical dependancy and other things. And yet their endorsements mean something too.

It means that Americans love charisma. Charisma is a gift - like being good looking or athletic. It's not a quality you can usually acquire through hard work or sacrifice. You just get to have it if you're lucky. But in this country we treat good looks and athleticism like they are heroic deeds. People with those qualities are revered, coddled, stroked. What faults they have are easily overlooked when they make a nice turn on the red carpet in a pair of Jimmy Choo's or scramble out of the pocket under pressure and fire one into the end zone. Individuals with charisma get a similar pass in this country.

What exactly is so important about charisma? It is nice to have. It draws people in. And certainly, if you are going to be a politician, that it's a great quality. But if you have charisma without substance, what difference will it, or more specifically, YOU, make? If you have charisma without much morality (Kennedy and Clinton), how can you be trusted? Reagan had charisma and substance and morality. It was a fine, fine combination.

Incidentally, Hillary Clinton does NOT have much charisma. The woman tries. But it just doesn't come across. I doubt it ever will. I've gotten to where I almost feel sorry for her watching her struggle against this upstart young politician, as they race to snatch that first- minority-to-be-president ring. I mean her policies are less liberal than Obama's. She's got more experience than he does. But she's got that shrill voice. And not much charisma.

Obama clearly has charisma. But we don't know much about his morality or his governing skills. And he's got all those liberal policies - the thing on which we should really be basing our vote.

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The events of last week...

...made me go back re-read JEB's Brokeback Mountain review. It's so well-written, so thoughtful. A great review of an even greater movie.

I watched this film for the third time this past Sunday. My friend's mom had never seen it, and now seemed like the appropriate time. If you haven't seen this movie, I so highly recommend that you do. I have yet to see I'm Not There or, obviously, the latest Batman installment that will hit theatres this summer. I would be shocked if either of these performances will hold a candle to the subtle and compelling acting done by Heath Ledger in Brokeback.

Ang Lee's direction is not to be dismissed, but the Ennis Del Mar character is the heart of the movie. The broken, devastated heart. He speaks very little, instead communicating with his hollow eyes and sideways grins. So engrossing is this character, I forgot to remember I was watching the film as my own private memorial for a late, great actor.

The media has inundated us with all the foggy details surrounding his death. It's sad to see such things exploited. But watch the movie, and you might understand why, in the inconsequential world of Hollywood, losing such a talent is truly a great loss. It is sad to think of how many great performances he still had in him.

Sadder still that he was a father of a two year old.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

This One's for JEB

I know we were disappointed about Fred Thompson, and I picked on him.

But the good doctor has defended him in such a sensible manner I'm a little ashamed.

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The World's Fastest Flying Toyota

That's what I own.

My Toyota Rav4 cruised to victory in a race for the title of fastest automobile in the world. We started on the road, but in this race, we leave the road and orbit into space. We brushed the moon and returned to earth to finish. It was touch and go at the end, but I really pushed it and inched ahead at the last moment. The Hummer, the only other car in the race, was, I thought, remote-controlled, but afterwards the drivers congratulated me.

Everyone congratulated me. Especially the men. Admiring glances everywhere I looked.

Me and my black Toyota ("That's how I did it," I told everyone. "It's a Toyota."), which was dirty and covered in snow and ice, won the biggest race in history.

You had to know. I went to my computer to google the story so I could link back to it here on my blog. I got distracted by a former roommate who was picking out our clothes (dresses for everyone else, and jeans for me out of spite).

Then I woke up.


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Sunday, January 27, 2008

Parenting, You "Make It Work."

Jane caught part of the first episode of the current season of Project Runway and apparently it struck a cord. I'm sure if I were to teach her what a designer is she would add that to her current list of occupations for her future life. In order, they are chef, doctor, teacher and then princess.

Tall Dark and Handsome was being a good father this evening - playing princess dolls with Jane. She then took things to the next level and wanted to play PR with her daddy and her dolls. TDH suggested they move the runway into the living room where he could mentally deal with this brand of quality playtime, in the form of
CSPAN in the background.

I'm glad they skipped the process of reenacting making the designs.
Snow White: I just don't think Cinderella has what it takes.
Mulan: Omg. If I see another tube dress, I'm going to vomit.

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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Writer's Strike

Am I the only one excited by the possibility that the writer's strike might mean that the Academy Awards will not happen?! And that's is just icing on the cake. I think this writer's strike - if it keeps up - could be one of the best things to happen to Americans in a long time. That, an elevated fuel prices. And dropping housing prices. (Nope - not being sarcastic.)

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Friday, January 25, 2008


I can now pull my hair into a ponytail.


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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

girlfriday:basic telephone etiquette

When I call and announce myself, do not say, "Uh huh."

Remember You've Got Mail, when Kathleen Kelly (Meg Ryan) lashes out at Joe Fox (Tom Hanks) when he tells her to "Just call [him] Joe."

"As though you were one of those stupid 22 year old girls with no last name? Hi, I'm Kimberly, hi I'm Janice. Don't they know you're supposed to have a last name? It's like they're an entire generation of cocktail waitresses."

When you say "uh huh" after I tell you who I am, I think of Kathleen Kelly. And I wonder why, after the hundreds of business calls you've made and answered, you haven't learned how to avoid sounding like a 14 year old.

For another tip, click here.


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Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Oh, Hey, Guess What, Thousands of People Are Marching on Washington

Thousands and thousands of peaceful protesters walk to the Capitol steps (or, you know, as close as Osama bid Laden lets them) for dozens of the 35 years since Roe v. Wade, but that's not really news, is it?

Yahoo! is my home page. Nope, nothing there.

Google gets misty-eyed and customized on MLK Jr Day, but try finding something about the March for Life.

Well, Anna at Dakota Women remembers it, and pines for a day when Roe is stronger. (No, no she's not an extremist.)

They might not celebrate the day the bloody procedure that keeps them in business was sanctioned, but everyday is a celebration at Abortionclinicdays, where we get to read about a women deluded enough to think she "and her baby" are going to go through this abortion thing together.
Marnie had chosen to have a medical abortion and we discussed what that would feel like for her. “It is very important for me to take responsibility for this,” she said, “and do it myself.” She had had a prior miscarriage and felt confident that she could work through the cramping and bleeding as the pregnancy passed. This was going to be private, sacred time, she explained. She had prepared her bedroom at home, bought a new bible and had selected some scripture that she felt spoke to her situation. “I need this to be respectful,” she said, “Me and the baby are going to work through this together.” I offered some scripture I share with women about God's all-encompassing love and we hugged as she was leaving. I told her that I'd be thinking of her and thanked her for letting us care for her. The level of peace and confidence she displayed were so moving.
March on. Even if they don't report it.

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Saturday, January 19, 2008


I am "moving" my blog to It's not leaving blogger.

I thought you should know, since you'll notice the changes in the next few days and will have to update your bookmarks, blogrolls, etc. (Is there really an etc? I feel compelled to add it, but what else is there?)

I'm excited, but nothing's changing except the domain name. Yet I'm still excited.

Back to regularly scheduled programming.


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Wednesday, January 16, 2008

She Wuz Robbed

Tonight another excellent designer was booted off Project Runway while an emotional lingerie designer lingers. We can handle emotional, it's the fact that all his designs are the equivelant of women's nightgowns that irritates.

This is the price you pay for watching reality television: you can't do a thing about what happens. You have to suffer. And you know it's stupid.

Those three things: inability to act, pain and suffering, and shame.

If you think reality tv is stupid, recall to mind this post. We pay the price for watching.

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Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Does a race card trump a gender card...or vice versa?

I love it when chickens come home to roost.

For the past (almost) fifty years, Democrats have been beating Republicans around the head and shoulders with charges that their policies are either racist, sexist, or both. Imagine my delight, then, watching the junior Senator from Illinois and the junior Senator from New York going at each other with rhetorical hammer and tongs, each trying to tar the other with an -ism while attempting to remain enough above the fray to avoid a backlash.

This is simply delicious. This is identity politics as cannibalism, and will only serve to prove—if it was at all necessary—that both major contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination have tissue paper resumes and little new to contribute to the national discussion.

Even better from my perspective is this: either race or gender would be an issue difficult for a Republican nominee to counter or even address in a general election campaign, which would result in the Democrat getting a significant free pass politically. However, since the Donkeys are doing the heavy lifting here and throwing the first mud, all the Elephants have to do is point out what has already been said, and then move the conversation to questions of experience and policy.

Leave it to the Democrats to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

More fun.

I watched a news broadcast a couple of days ago that gave me some insight into the enthusiasm that Senator Obama evokes in the hearts and minds of our friends on the political Left, and it appears to me to be a fairly simple proposition. When you consider the fact that his politics differ only marginally from those of old line liberals such as his colleagues Senators Kennedy, Dodd, Mikulski, and Leahy, one inevitably runs aground upon a logical, though unsettling proposition: liberals really like Senator Obama because he is black, very well-spoken, ferociously intelligent, and electable. And? He allows them to pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves on how wonderful and progressive THEY are, regardless of the Senator's lack of relevant experience.

In other words, Senator Obama is a presidential candidate who is also a symbol of civil rights in America. Which is not, necessarily, a bad thing. We need symbols, and the idea that he is a viable candidate appeals to me, too. But it certainly creates a problem with the feminist hierarchy, which was lining up to promote Senator Clinton as a civil rights symbol. Here we have a woman with a real chance to become president, and she has the poor luck to have to run against another symbol of progress.

Both are going to get roughed up in the process, and one is going to be beaten for the nomination. But I daresay that the country will be the better for it.

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Sunday, January 13, 2008


I don't feel well today. Besides the physical evidence that something is wrong, I watched the entire Colts/Chargers game with my husband this afternoon.

It's nearly 8:00 and I'm not really better. I suspect I have some sort of sinus crap, which I don't recall ever having and I could have lived the rest of my life without it. (Still beats a stomach ache in my book.)

But tonight, after my husband has obliged me by giving me a foot rub, we're watching the first installment of the Masterpiece Theatre* Complete Works of Jane Austen on PBS.

That's really what this post was about. To tell you about it, in case you hadn't heard.

ADDED: We watched it, and we were disappointed. They crammed Austen's Persuasion into an hour and a half. That's shorter than the 1995 full-length feature, which was only 109 minutes long!

I feel misled. The Series is called "The Complete Works of Jane Austen," which implies a comprehensive look at her works, not highlights. I expected a masterpiece, a la the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice (which can't be topped, and PBS has wisely decided to air an encore performance rather than try).

Thankfully, as JEB points out in the comments, Captain Wentworth was easy on the eyes.

*Theatre is too sophisticated for today's audiences. The program is now called just Masterpiece.

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Friday, January 11, 2008

Snow Falls on Baghdad

This is magic.

Although the white flakes quickly dissolved into gray puddles, they brought an emotion rarely expressed in this desert capital snarled by army checkpoints, divided by concrete walls and ravaged by sectarian killings — delight.

It's all here.

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Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Little Revelations.

Jonny and I went to see a terrific little film. It had one teensy weensy part, a terrible little moment, that I couldn't get off my mind.

When I got home, I retired to the basement, took the towels out of the dryer, threw in a load of underwear and, Red Hots in hand, sat on the couch to find something that would help me forget that tiny little moment.

I caught the end of Scrubs and switched to Sex and the City. I've watched some re-runs on TBS, and, overall, enjoyed them. It's not great television, but it's engaging. And I liked the way they ended the show.

The women are attractive, and they're witty and they live in the city of my youthful dreams. They drink martinis and their lives are dramatic and beautiful and full of just the right amounts of heartbreak and love-making.

It's appealing. It has always appealed to me.

But not anymore. Not really. Not because I don't like martinis or stilettos or even New York. It's because I see that I was saved from realizing those ambitions.

I lived in D.C. and I loved the energy there. I craved the make-believe friendships that included nights on the town, unconditional devotion (the kind that thinks friendship means tolerance, never guidance), swooning lovers breaking their heart over me, a high-powered career, and generally lots of attention.

There was very little of that. It turned out that my big-city job paid well, but my own inclinations were for a cozy apartment, which meant a lot of hard work and weekends at home; driving around the city, navigating the screaming one-way roads; buying a reliable car; trying to connect with my roommates. And that city was fully of gorgeous, talented people with triple the amount of ambition. I was a straw of hay in a haystack.

Brooding lovers? I got a stalker.

Supportive friends? My roommates thought I was weird, and eventually we fought.

Nights on the town were expensive, and anyway, you had to take the metro, you had to know where you going, and you had to have people to go with you. Most of the people I cared about were married, had children, or were content to cook and eat at home. And I lived in a rocking part of Northern Virginia, and it kind of takes the punch out of it when you can walk to the restaurant.

And it turns out those were the good days.

Moving back to Boise was disastrous to my love life, and my spiritual life suffered after a series of deep personal losses. (Julie was right; everyone leaves.) Men equaled pain and emptiness and a kind of false, vague direction about what life meant.

So I thank God for my husband. I thank God for my weirdness and my nesting instincts and my love of true friends and my propensity for staying at home. They weren't happy (or unhappy) accidents. I wanted the Sex in the City life, but God would never let me have it. I'm better. Or I'm getting better. All those angry, naked wounds are healing.

And that means Carrie is boring. And irrelevant. What a relief.


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I Haven't Offended You in a While

So I'm due.

Overheard by me; mumbled-sung by my husband as he zipped up his Roma sweater; to the tune of America courtesy of Westside Story.

Roma, you beautiful city
That's why it's such a pity

Always you have the graffiti
And the drunkards pee-pee

And the crazies screaming
And the pick-pockets teeming

That's some sweet music people.

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Friday, January 04, 2008

A Fantasy League for the Rest of Us: A New Year

It is unanimous at the Schaff household: Watching Hollywood fall apart is

"What if they threw an awards show and no one came," my husband asked as we started reading the same Variety article simultaneously.

UPDATE: They are changing the format, but are still going to air the show. Without the stars. Can you imagine the long faces? Hours of self-congratulation lost.

Don't worry, Molly. No one would let this happen to the Oscars.

ADDED: Will the horrors never cease? Speilberg honor pushed to 09!

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Thursday, January 03, 2008

Iowa Caucus Tonight, and I'm Just Curious...

Who are our readers hoping to see emerge as frontrunners?

I just saw Guiliani's campaign ad and WOW.

What happened to Fred Thompson? Talk about sound and fury signifying nothing.


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