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Dear Hillary, I Read the News Today

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Dear Hillary,

I read the news today, oh boy.

I read the news of your latest defeats and your latest victories, and I read the rest of the stories, and when it came time to vote, I hovered over the line of circles matched up to names, and, slowly, consciously, I lowered the ink dauber onto the little circle next to a man's name. A whole ghostly congregation of women, back past the second wave and the suffragettes to the abolitionists and the temperance movement and earlier, stood over my shoulder and watched. Some of them applauded, others wiped away a single tear rolling down her cheek.

It was the news stories, Hillary, not the news about you, but the other stories, the stories you weren't in. The stories you too rarely speak of, the stories that should have been the heart of your campaign, but aren't. I didn't vote for you because you said so little about the stories, the lives behind the news.

A young man dressed in black shot up a university classroom, killed five people, injured dozens of others, shot himself. It's this millennium's version of "going postal." We've heard the story so often that we skip over denial, anger, and bargaining, and go straight for depression. My local liberal talk show host calls on the federal government to order everyone with a psychotropic prescription to pee in a cup biweekly, so we're sure the "crazy people" are on their meds.

You, meanwhile, couldn't make it back to the Senate floor to see that the telephone companies land in court for handing my telephone records over to Big Brother.

An Illinois cop is convicted of murdering a fetus and, as an afterthought, the woman who was carrying his child-to-be. For the fetus, aggravated murder; for killing the mother of his 2-year-old son, simple murder. A jury of twelve reputedly reasonable people decided that the cop planned to terminate the fetus and for that he should face the death penalty; killing the woman was happenstance, a means to an end. As the cop told the story, the woman lurched into the cop's upraised elbow, ramming it into her throat. He didn't plan on killing her, just aborting the fetus to get out of child support. The jury agreed: she was merely an impediment, an obstacle to his real objective, to the more serious crime.

But you didn't say a word about the Vitter amendment, the one that keeps abortion out of reach of Native American women.

A junior high schooler gunned down another boy. The dead boy had taken to coming to school bravely adorned in jewelry, makeup, heeled boots. The 14-year-old killer will be tried as an adult, no doubt, but what in our homophobic society taught him that it was wrong to kill the "f*g"? How many times was the child-killer himself punched in the gut by bullies, smacked by his father, for being a "sissy," a sister, a girl? How many ways was he taught that acting "feminine" is reprehensible, that women are meant to be belittled, that men who wear the trappings of a woman are an abomination? The child-killer knew the rule: don't ask, don't tell, don't discuss it.

What is this story to you, Hillary? Do these children, the child-killer and the child killed, fit into your scholarly articles on children and the law? When you stand next to Madeleine Albright, who spoke of dead children as collateral damage, do you remember the story of the murdering and murdered children from this small farm community?

Staring at my ink dauber and that line of little circles in the booklet, I stamped my mark on a man's name. I didn't hear you talk about any of the day's stories. All I saw, Hillary, were your corporate suits.

I don't think you're cold, sweetie. Just the opposite: you've been hurt too often. The Stoic cast of the jaw, the jewel neckline, crisp military-esque jackets, they're all part of the the armor. We can all read it. No surprise that you chose your wedding dress for the magazine layout touting your most embarrassing wardrobe moments. Once upon a time, you followed your heart instead of your head, but you weren't Guinevere and he wasn't Arthur and there was no Camelot. Too many of us know that story, and you could have embraced us with yours. We should have been your base and your bedrock, but you left your story--our story--untold, so I voted for a man.

The stories are in you. A few have squeezed themselves into a debate or a speech, but then you twist them into points for your political scorecard, and the people get squeezed out. You know what I'm telling you. You told a story once, just the story and what it meant to you, and, up until the very last phrase, you forgot about winning and losing. For that moment, I thought maybe I'd voted wrong.

"And I remember sitting up there and watching them come in. Those who could walk were walking. Those who had lost limbs were trying with great courage to get themselves in without the help of others. Some were in wheelchairs and some were on gurneys. And the speaker representing these wounded warriors had had most of his face disfigured by the results of fire from a roadside bomb.

"You know, the hits I've taken in life are nothing compared to what goes on every single day in the lives of people across our country. And I resolved at a very young age that I'd been blessed and that I was called by my faith and by my upbringing to do what I could to give others the same opportunities and blessings that I took for granted. That's what gets me up in the morning. That's what motivates me in this campaign.

"And, you know, no matter what happens in this contest -- and I am honored, I am honored to be here with Barack Obama. I am absolutely honored.

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It conjures up an asphalt web of insulated individuals occasionally Crashing into each other. It is that, it's designed to be that, but in the spaces between the asphalt and concrete, and sometimes on those hard spaces that (more...)
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