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Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

Politics & Pregnancy

Hubby says politics seem to follow me around wherever I go.  But I think politics is just everywhere, so we can’t avoid it.

Last weekend, we received a form letter from our obstetrician’s office that the practice was switching hospitals starting November 1st.  We were more than a little irked by this announcement.  We moved from San Francisco, where we had an OB whom we loved, and had to find a provider here in New Hampshire.  We went with this particular hospital, Catholic Medical Center, because it has an excellent reputation for labor & delivery.  We had just gotten settled into the OB practice and found a doctor with whom we felt comfortable.  And now we got this notice.  Bleah.

Turns out there were some political shenanigans going on at the OB practice that led them to switch hospitals.  We are not privvy to the gory details, but we did learn that the practice is basically splitting in half, with three of the doctors going to the new hospital and three staying with CMC and joining their midwifery practice.  Thankfully, it sounds like our doctor is staying with CMC, so we will still be able to deliver there; we will, however, need to officially switch OB practices to the midwifery group.  Not optimal for a pregnant woman 10 weeks away from her due date.

I can swing with this, annoyed as I am.  It’s yet another decision we have to make in a year of major decisions.  I would like a respite, please.

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The Last Kennedy

I woke up this morning to the news that Ted Kennedy had passed away.  I grew up in Massachusetts during the 70’s and 80’s, when the Kennedys defined Massachusetts politics.  Coming of age during that time, I realize now that my own politics were directly influenced by the Kennedys.  They were champions of civil rights, advocates for the poor, and critics of war.  Jack and Bobby stirred up the pot in the 60’s, but it was Teddy—who has been a senator as long as I have been alive—who brought much of their vision into reality.

I remember when Ted Kennedy ran for president in 1980.  I had a bit of schoolgirl crush on him, his still boyish face, intelligence, and obvious charm.  I hated Ronald Reagan, who I thought was bad actor (and he was).  With Teddy, I felt like I was rooting for the home team, though I was not very conscious of politics back then and didn’t understand the adult implications of the Chappaquiddick incident.  But Teddy was my guy.  I was disappointed when he lost the primary and then pissed off when Reagan won the presidency.  Something was not right with the world.

I left Massachusetts for California in 1986, but I always noted with a tinge of pride the influence Uncle Teddy wielded with his legislation and oratory.  It was Teddy who killed the nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court.  It was Teddy railing against the policies of the Iraq War.  Massachusetts is one of the most progressive states in the union, thanks in no small part to Ted Kennedy.

Ted Kennedy was no saint, that’s for sure.  His ruddy red nose was as stalwart as his tenure in the Senate.  Resist the temptation to canonize the guy in the event of his death.  But it’s interesting for me to be back in New England this summer, at the announcement of his passing.  All of New England mourns.  It feels as if I’ve lost a bit of a political mentor, even though I’ve never even met the guy.  And now it’s time to pick up the torch and keep moving forward.

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I have so far avoided blogging about politics, although I have plenty of opinions about politics.  I have been keeping a curious, rubber-necking ear to the political scandal that is Mark Sanford, governor of South Carolina.  His initial “disappearance” tweaked my interest only because his staff claimed he was hiking the Appalachian Trail.  As someone who has done long-distance backpacking (250 miles of the Pacific Crest Trail through Oregon in 2004), I was sympathetic to the governor and his need to get away from civilization and the demands of his position, even though I think he was an idiot for refusing federal stimulus money for his state.

But then the revelations started unraveling.  The governor was not on the AT, he was in Argentina.  He was visiting his mistress.  All of this was announced at a rather uncomfortable press conference, during which Sanford gave too much information about the details of his affair and the damage to his marriage.  Sanford, self-professed standard bearer for family values and father of four young sons, seemed a groveling lovesick teenager in the ensuing days.  He described his mistress as his “soul mate” and the pain he felt at his separation from her.  He was trying to come across as a fallible human being.  Good for him, but really do we need to know all the gory details of his personal torture?  Because he’s not coming across as sympathetic.  He’s coming across pathetic.  Please shut up, Governor.

Through all this, it has been very notable that the governor’s wife, Jenny Sanford, has not appeared by his side.  Unlike the pained, somber presence of Silda Wall Spitzer by the side of her disgraced husband, Eliot Spitzer, Jenny Sanford’s absence left her husband to wallow in the full spotlight of his infidelities.  Which is how it should be, in my opinion.  Jenny Sanford has publicly stated that she is willing to reconcile with her husband–IF he demonstrates the true spirit of humility.  But there is no reason why she should have to bear the public humiliation of a press conference while her husband confesses to being unfaithful to her.  Why would a compassionate husband ask this of his wife?  Why would an educated, strong woman agree to this mockery?  And what message does it send to our American ideal of marriage?  That it is the woman’s duty to endure her husband’s inevitable infidelities?  Come on.

I understand that marriage is work and that every marriage may find itself at a breaking point at some point.  I understand that it is the commitment of the partners to work through the difficulties that helps a marriage endure.  I know marriages can survive infidelities and even become stronger on the other side.  I hope the Sanfords’ marriage survives.  But this is a private betrayal and a private reconciliation and should be dealt with in private.  The public airing of the governor’s feelings for his mistress is completely inappropriate.  Perhaps if his wife were by his side, he’d shut up in deference to her grief.  His diarrhea of the mouth is not helping any reconciliation, nor is it helping his political career.

Silence is a virtue, governor, even in politics.  Practice some restraint.  Maybe you should hike the Appalachian Trail.

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