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November 12, 2008


I'm glad the election is over so that I can stop feeling guilty about not writing more about it. Oh, I wrote a few things. Some serious, some not.

In the same spirit as Newsweek's Special Secrets Project, here are some of the things I did, thought or wrote in the last year that never made it to being published...

• Back in summer 2007, I wanted to be a good political blogger and watch ALL debates, including the Republican ones. But I could only get part-way through the Republicans' because what they were saying was crap and, anymore, the sight of a row of exclusively white men wanting to be president just seemed ridiculous and sad. Later, I felt bad for the camera operators at the Republican convention, who tried so hard, in vain, to find non-white faces to cut away to for reaction shots.

• Early on, I asked a coworker, an African American woman, what she thought about the fact that while Barack is technically "African American" -- you know, his father was from Africa, his mother from America -- he didn't share the same heritage of slavery and brutal discrimination as black Americans whose ancestors had been here for centuries. Pointed though it may seem, the question really did arise out of my fascination with genealogy and questions of "what it means to be American." But I knew I was stepping into choppy, uncharted conversation waters. After we stared at each other for a moment, my coworker wanted to know in return why I was being so picky. Why did I want to get into those kinds of details? she asked. It didn't bother her, no. Any person of color faces discrimination, so the specifics of his background didn't matter.

• At a Drinking Liberally event in D.C., a woman told me and another blogger how her husband, who works in the intelligence community, said the Republicans had hard evidence -- audio and/or video recordings -- proving that Hillary Clinton had had a lesbian affair during her husband's administration. And she said "they" were prepared to use the tapes if Hillary became the nominee. She said all of this with a straight face.

• Among my many election-related Facebook status updates, many of which lost me Facebook friends and caused people to doubt my sanity, this got the biggest reaction: "Scott Shrake: Even if Hillary found a cure for AIDS tomorrow the media headlines would be 'Hillary Clinton Selfishly Grabs Attention from Barack Obama by Claiming to 'Cure' Disease That Was Likely Started by Her Husband, President Clinton, Anyway'."

• Gay people divided mostly along generational lines in who they supported in the Dem primaries. Most of those old enough to have voted for Bill Clinton in '92 remember how -- and we can argue about specifics and betrayals and whatnot - he was undeniably the first president to have an advisor on gay issues and to reach out to the gay community. And Hillary was right there with him. Plus, she's a superdiva. Meanwhile, under-30 gays, mostly oblivious to what things were like in 1992 (before "Will and Grace," Ellen, and so on) and also too young to have appreciated the go-go late '90s and therefore feeling no loyalty to the Clintons, supported Obama. Plus, he was "cooler." Like Mr. Wilson and Dennis the Menace, I think a lot of Hillary's supporters felt besieged for months by what seemed like bratty, bullying Obama supporters. One thing's certain: Her supporters definitely internalized the Clintons' well-developed victim complex.

• I confronted the co-founder of the notorious PUMAs at dinner on his birthday in early June, asking him to what extent his fierce opposition to Obama was racial. Frankly, I can't remember his answer exactly, but it must've satisfied me, because the dinner went on without incident.

• A close family friend of the Bidens was telling me some of his favorite stories about them and referred to the "Biden Code" as though I should know what that is. Since I didn't, he explained that it's a code of total honesty that the whole family lives by.

• One of the first things I thought about Sarah Palin, besides that I'm related to her and she reminds me of a female George W. Bush, is that, subtracting Hillary from the equation of course, if there had been a Democratic Sarah Palin, identical in every way to the Republican Sarah Palin but with impeccable liberal bona fides, she would have been an even bigger superstar for the Left than Republican Sarah is/was for the Right. Dems would have overlooked her weak qualifications just as quickly and easily as the Right did (at first) for their Sarah. In a New York minute, if you will.

• At a house party held by some young Democratic operatives in early September, I noticed a "Bros before Hoes" sticker on the refrigerator, depicting Obama and Hillary. As too many people did so many times during this double-historic campaign, I let the sickening misogyny go by without saying anything.

• Random comments from my liveblogging of debates, which I never posted anywhere because it seemed like twaddle when I reread it (still does, but here are some excerpts anyway): Hillary never holds onto Chelsea onstage. She always ditches her really quickly. Maybe it's her instinct of keeping Chelsea OUT of the limelight. ... It's almost like Bill thinks he has to make up for Monicagate by standing up for HRC forever. ... Michelle! I told you not to wear another pattern. ... Obama really looks like a silent-film star. I think he draws his eyebrows on. ... I hate it when people on stage being applauded "applaud back." ... Hillary and Bill always do the fake point-at-someone-they-"know"-in-the-audience-and-wave thing. ... Obama freaks are unable to obey simple no-applause rule. ... You get the feeling Obama cribs notes from his smart advisors. You get the feeling HRC has this stuff in her own mind. ...

• At the final debate, at 9:24 EST, John McCain said: "When Senator Obama was first asked [about doing town hall meetings], he said, 'Any place, any time,' the way Barry Goldwater and Jack Kennedy agreed to do, before the intervention of the tragedy at Dallas." Not a soul in the world said anything about this odd non sequitur insertion of the topic of assassination into the discussion. But when Hillary Clinton mentioned the Bobby Kennedy assassination as a kind of time marker when talking to an editorial board in the late spring, the media and the Obama campaign went positively berserk on her with vile accusations she was subliminally calling for Obama to be assassinated. To me this is yet another proof that the Obama campaign was much harder on Hillary than it ever was (or had to be?) on McCain.

• Even when I supported Hillary, I always liked Barack Obama -- especially his wry sense of humor, born of his being an outsider as a kid, I think, which I can relate to - and I was proud and happy to vote for him on November 4. But I never campaigned for him. My fear of strangers kept me from canvassing, and I don't like wearing campaign paraphernalia, etc. I didn't actively campaign for Hillary, either, though I gave her about $50. Most of all, I just don't believe in trying to tell other people how to vote. It's not my job.

• On election night, I took a bus home through the party atmosphere of Northwest D.C. The bus driver was honking nonstop in celebration, the mood on the bus was the same as everywhere: Unbridled conviviality and that special shared feeling that we were all going to be alright after all. A middle-aged black woman got on the bus and, in response to something the bus driver said about Obama winning, she said wearily, with all the weight of the world behind it, "What took so long?" and shook her head with a wan smile.