OPINIONATRIX…because my opinions dominate











While fans across the country were busy debating who wore what to the Oscars on Sunday, the real “best dressed couple,” were busy entertaining the United States Governors in D.C.

Obamas at the Governors Ball

Could the President and First Lady be any more attractive, elegant and stylish?  I don’t think so.



caroline kennedy

Now that Barack Obama has appointed Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, the guessing game as to who will take her place as the junior Senator from NY has begun.  A lot of names has been floated through the ether; Robert Kennedy Jr, Andrew Cuomo, Jerry Nadler, Nita Lowey and even Bill Clinton have been rumored to have their eyes on the prize.  So will someone please explain to me how out of many qualified and able candidates, it is Caroline Kennedy who has somehow floated to the top of the pack?

Don’t get me wrong, Caroline Kennedy is a strong and capable woman.  She is  philanthropic, interesting and a symbol of sorts, but she is not qualified to be Senator of NY.  First of all, she has never even held a real job! Sure, she has sat on school boards, charity committees and most recently was a prominent supporter of Barack Obama’s candidacy for president, but let’s be honest, is she really the best and most fair choice as Hillary Clinton’s replacement?  I think not.

If Caroline Kennedy is appointed by Gov. Patterson it will be yet another example of power, privilege and insider connections triumphing over the hard work and perseverance of others.  Some may argue that Hillary Clinton herself didn’t have much experience when she ran, but the difference here is that she did indeed run.  Clinton was elected by the people, whereas her replacement will be appointed – no input from the public needed.  Shouldn’t the seat go to someone with political experience?  There is no shortage of candidates.

Kennedy is a wonderful person.  She has given a lot to society and could definitely make a mark if she chose to, but lets test her out first.  Politics is not a gene.  Just because you come from a political family does not mean you yourself will be a great politician.  If Kennedy wants to get into the political arena then she should, but she should run for office, not get handed a giant prize just because her last name happens to be Kennedy.

American royalty or not, we need to keep in mind that this county was founded as a meritocracy.  There are no real Kings and Queens, and we should not be operating as though a royal family exists.



{November 9, 2008}   America’s First Kids

barackmaliasasha1

Barack Obama is in the spotlight.  All eyes are on him.  We want to know his every move, thought and decision.  It was surprising, with all the turmoil this country has to deal with, that one of the most focused upon questions during his first press conference as President Elect was what kind of dog he plans to get.  This has become one of the biggest stories in the past couple of days.  Blogs have been reaching out to give him advice, Whoopi Goldberg recently suggested that he think about a cat instead and animal rights groups are campaigning for a shelter dog.  I don’t know what exactly this intense interest means about us as a country.  Perhaps it just cements my previous belief that Americans on the whole are an animal loving people.  However, I think the real reason this holds so much interest for the public is because it pertains to Barack Obama “the father,” and by extension to his two young daughters Sasha (7) and Malia (10).

I almost feel sorry for these girls.  Their lives are going to change immensely.  Not only are they being uprooted from their home, school, friends and daily lives, but they will be under public observation 24/7.  A simple trip out for ice cream will now involve secret service security detail, paparazzi and most likely appearances on the evening news.  They will be forced to go through those awkward teenage years with all of us watching them, judging them and offering them “advice.” Makes me tired just thinking about it.

Already the dresses they wore on November 4th have sold out as the American public clamors for a piece of America’s first kids.  I recently heard TV pundits debating about whether or not the Obama’s will choose public or private school.  I’m sorry, but when did that become our business?  We are entitled to know what Barack Obama intends to do about domestic and foreign policy.  We are not entitled to inquire and comment on his personal family choices.

Many are focusing on the fun and positive things about moving into the White House.  A private bowling alley!  24 hour staff! Personal chefs! Maids! People Magazine has written an article about it.  I don’t know though. Isn’t some of the joy of living taken away when it has to be done under a microscope?  Wouldn’t you get tired of having a ‘staff’ around all the time?  What if all you really want for lunch is a peanut butter sandwich made by your mom?  Hopefully Sasha and Malia will not lose all these simple pleasures.  Luckily for them Michelle Obama seems to be a woman of strong values who will do her best to raise the girls as normally as she can.  She has already stated that soccer and dance will continue, and I have a feeling the girls will still be expected to do their chores regardless of the maids.

I too have a curious interest in the Obama family.  How could you not?  They’re so damn likeable.  So photogenic.  So stylish. So incredibly endearing.  However, I am willing to forgo knowing their every move and decision so that these girls can maintain some sense of privacy.  I don’t need to see their birthday party pictures and I don’t want any input on where they go to school.  I sincerely hope the media give these kids a break.   However, if Barack Obama wants to tell us what they decide to name the new dog I wouldn’t object.



obama-wins-2-2

This week has been amazing!  After wishing, hoping and praying that Barack Obama would be elected President, it finally happened.  I swear, I am so proud of us as a Nation.  This is huge, not just because Obama is the first African American President (although that’s certainly a milestone), but because he truly was the best man for the job.  He is smart, calculating, even keeled and genuine.  I cannot wait to see what he is able to accomplish over the coming years.

I have enjoyed this election, and I’m really going to miss it.  I loved the constant frenzy, the intensiveness and the surprising twists and turns.  However, there is another reason I will miss the 2008 Campaign: it brought us together.  For the first time in a long time people were talking to each other about things that matter.  Domestic Policy, the war in Iraq and economics trumped the more mundane chatter of Paris Hilton and Hollywood gossip.

This election reminded me of why America is so great.  People really do care.  People are able to come together – even when their opinions differ – and try to solve major problems.  And not only do people care, they are passionate.  I learned so much during this election.  I learned about the way Washington works, about states which I had never given a second glance and about the lesser known politicians who are doing  great things for this country.

I feel like we as a country lived up to our potential.  We went out there and voted.  We discussed.  We organized and volunteered.  And we conducted numerous conversations around the dinner table, debating the pertinent issues that are affecting our nation.  I am so proud to be an American.

I hope that even those whose candidate did not win the Election can take solace in the fact that we as a country really showed the world what we’re made of.  We are an accepting people who elected an amazing man to lead us through the next four years.

Congratulations America, Congratulations!



I am no fan of George Bush.  I don’t think George Bush is a ‘bad guy,’ I think Bush is a man of mediocrity who is in way over his head.  Through familial connections and a life of privilege, he found himself in a position he was wholly unqualified for.  Daft? Maybe. Unprepared? Yes. Horrible man? No.

Dick Cheney on the other hand strikes me as a bad guy.  A behind the scenes puppet master who holds his own opinions and beliefs so far above anyone else’s, he is both unwilling and unable to listen to reasonable men.  Over the past eight years Cheney has been so keen on getting his way, that he has gone about it in any way possible; giving new meaning to the Machiavellian principle of “the end justifies the means.”  Unlawful and illegal practices have become the norm under this administration and I attribute much of this lack of a moral compass to Dick Cheney. 

The approval ratings of the current administration being what they are (incredibly low), it is no surprise that John McCain has spent the better part of his campaign trying to distance himself from president Bush – and by extension Dick Cheney.  Neither man was present at the Republican Convention, and they have been all but absent on the McCain campaign trail.  Unfortunately for John McCain, he just can’t seem to get away!  Yesterday, much to the glee of the Obama campaign, Dick Cheney endorsed John McCain.  Oh poor John McCain, just when he thought things couldn’t get worse, Cheney goes out and publicly endorses him. 

Barack Obama and Joe Biden put it better than I ever could, below are their responses to the endorsement.

BARACK OBAMA:

I’d like to congratulate Senator McCain on this endorsement because he really earned it. That endorsement didn’t come easy. Senator McCain had to vote 90 percent of the time with George Bush and Dick Cheney to get it. He served as Washington’s biggest cheerleader for going to war in Iraq, and supports economic policies that are no different from the last eight years. So Senator McCain worked hard to get Dick Cheney’s support.

JOE BIDEN:

If you ever had any doubt that John McCain would continue George Bush’s policies — you can put those to rest. Just today, Vice President Cheney came out and endorsed John McCain. Do we need any more proof? I’m not surprised. Dick Cheney has been wrong on everything else the last eight years. He’s on a roll.                      -Huffington Post

Well said guys, well said.



{October 30, 2008}   A Letter To The Undecided Voter

Dear Undecided Voter,

For the better part of a year I have heard all about you.  I have seen panels of you interviewed on TV and watched for your opinions after each of the debates.  In this presidential race, it seems like you guys are the popular crowd.   The candidates want your vote, the newspapers want to talk to you and you are all I ever hear about on the evening news.  Wow, no wonder you’re undecided – it’s beneficial!  You, my little undecided friend, are getting all the attention.

Frankly, I don’t know how you could still be undecided.  This is a year in which we could not have two more different candidates.  Their opinions on individual issues are more clear than ever, thanks to in depth websites and round the clock news coverage.  Plus, if you really don’t like either of these guys then there are always third party candidates to whom you could give your vote – I don’t recommend this, but it’s still an option.  I’d say as far as elections go, there is a wide and diverse smorgasbord of candidates to choose from – SO CHOOSE!  In the beginning I understand wanting to feel it out more, but we have less than a week left!  How have you not been able to make up your mind?  What do you think (or hope) to learn over the course of the next 6 days?

Honestly, I don’t believe you.  I think you know exactly who you’re going to vote for.  You just like the attention you’re getting for being “undecided.”  You are just like that annoying kid in pre-school who goes around singing “I know something you don’t know.”  In pre-school it’s annoying, but understandable because the perpetrator is 4 years old.  In an adult undecided voter it’s a downright stupid and attention getting ploy.

Guess what? I am through with you.  I don’t want to hear any more of your opinions.  I don’t want to follow your “voter dials” on the bottom of news screens in order to see which candidate says the right thing in order to register as positive with you.  I cannot wait until November 5th, because that’s the day when you will have to get down off your pedestals and join the ranks with the rest of us.  Unfortunately for you guys, the rest of us have already mastered the skill of decision making and are thus a bit ahead in the game of life.

All I can say is g-d forbid I have to wait in line behind you at the deli, because I don’t even want to know how long it takes you to pick a sandwich.

With(out) Love,

Opinionatrix



From “troopergate” to teen pregnancy, the bridge-to-nowhere and beyond, a lot of skeleton’s have trotted out of Sarah Palin’s closet in the past few months.  Well now at least we know they were well dressed. 

This week, it came to light that the RNC had spent 150,000 dollars on clothes, hair and make-up for Sarah Palin and her family.  150,000 dollars!? Wow, that’s more than the majority of Americans make in a year.  What’s worse is that the McCain/Palin campaign has been running around the country talking about “Joe the Plumber,” “Joe Six Pack” and just about any other Joe they can dig up.  This is the same Sarah Palin who has been touting her ‘average jane’ street cred since being tapped as VP. 

 It is the hypocrisy of this that has me incensed, not the amount of money that was spent.  John Edwards was mocked for his 400 dollar haircuts, Hillary Clinton came under fire after it was discovered she spent 3000 dollars on hair styling sessions and Barack Obama has been heralded as the elitist candidate in the race since day one.  However, now that the shoe is on the other foot, the McCain campaign expects us to just ignore this and sweep it under the rug? 

Of course the American people and the media are going to go nuts with this!  For one there is the disingenousy of the whole thing, but what’s more is that 150,000 dollars is a huge amount of money.  In this economy anyone spending 150,000 on anything that isn’t a necessity is going to garner some attention. 

Ultimately, we need to move on.  What the RNC pays to outfit the Palin family isn’t really important in the long run.  We need to focus on the issues.  The economy, healthcare, civil rights and foreign relations.  These are the things we should be talking about, not the fact that Sarah Palin went to Barney’s instead of Ann Taylor.

I can’t help but feel a little sorry for Palin.  Truth be told, in a way this whole incident almost proves what she’s been espousing all along; she is middle class.  If she was truly rich and into high end clothing, she would have had a wardrobe that was campaign appropriate already.  I would be willing to bet that Hillary’s famous pantsuits were designer brands, and we all know Cindy McCain isn’t shopping at the Gap.  Neither of these women’s wardrobes became issues, because they already had the appropriate clothes in their closets.  Palin on the other hand did not, and thus the RNC had to purchase these things for her.

Let’s be honest.  Looks and image matter.  It is important for candidates to present well on the campaign trail.  So much so that political scientists still attribute Nixon’s loss in part due to his appearance in the 1960 presidential debate:

What is most remembered and discussed is the telegenic “image” presented by Kennedy and the decidedly non-telegenic presence of Nixon. Nixon didn’t wear make-up, was recovering from the flu and had lost weight, and suffered from a knee injury. He also wore a gray suit, which provided little contrast with the background set. Kennedy wore a dark suit, wore make-up (though he already looked tan), and was coached on how to sit (legs crossed) and what to do when he wasn’t speaking (look at Nixon).        CNN/TIME

I understand the McCain campaign’s need for Sarah Palin to look good.  It isn’t sexism – it’s politics.  Do I think 150,000 was way too much? Yes, she could have easily looked just as good for A LOT less.  However, we need to move past this or we risk losing sight of what is really important in this election.  We have a lot at stake here.  As a country we need to move past clothing, Bill Ayers and which part of the country is most American, and get back to debating the real issues. 

 

 



This morning on Meet the Press, General Colin Powell announced his endorsement of Barack Obama for president.  This is a big deal.  Not only is General Powell a Republican, but he was once thought to be the man most likely to be America’s first Black president.

Powell stated that his choice was based on a number of factors; including the direction of the Republican party, the way McCain has dealt with the economic crisis, the selection of Sarah Palin as VP and the negative direction the McCain campaign has taken.  Powell elaborated on the current state of the McCain campaign, blasting him for inciting the idea that Muslims are terrorists, and continuing to bring up William Ayers instead of focusing on real issues.  He went even further, stating that members of the Republican party should be called out for perpetuating these rumors and often hate filled sentiments of behalf of the McCain campaign.

Powell made it clear that Obama has proved to him that he is ready to be president.  I found it interesting that Colin Powell specifically stated that he is not voting for Barack Obama for the sole reason that he is Black.  He thinks of that as a source of pride but in no way based his decision on race.  I tend to believe this, simply because if Powell was basing his decision on race he most likely would have come out with it much earlier.

I am thrilled with this endorsement.  General Powell is a widely respected political figure with a wealth of knowledge on the current political and military climate.  All the independent and undecided voters will likely see this as yet one more reason to jump on the Obama/Biden bandwagon.  As a Barack Obama supporter, I could not think of a better endorsement for the ticket to receive.  And the icing on the cake?  This endorsement followed a variety of unexpected and influential newspaper endorsements for Obama/Biden.  What a week!  A win in the debate, newspaper endorsements galore and a thumbs up from Colin Powell – I imagine the Obama campaign must be thrilled.

Tom Brokaw did a great job with the interview.  He highlighted the ideological differences between Powell and Obama, pressed Powell on his past decisions regarding the war and really gave him the time to elaborate on the reasoning behind his various decisions.  What is most amazing to me is that the man who endorsed Bush/Cheney is now voting Obama/Biden. Talk about a 180 degree turn.

All in all a terrific way to end the week.  This will certainly dominate the news cycle for a couple of days, and it can only help the Obama/Biden campaign.  With only a few weeks left, the Obama campaign must be feeling pretty good.



{September 28, 2008}   Win, Lose or Draw?

It almost didn’t happen, but now that it’s over the analysis is flying and both campaigns are spinning like whirling dervishes. Obama’s campaign declared victory, but so did John McCain’s… so who won?  Honestly, I think it was a draw – which essentially means Obama came out the winner.  

After the week the McCain campaign has had, John McCain really needed to hit this one out of the park.  He needed to sound much more authoritative than Obama, and emerge from the foreign policy debate gaffe free.  Unfortunately for the McCain campaign, that did not happen.  John McCain came off as snarly, angry and condescending.  He never looked Obama in the eye and repeatedly addressed him as Senator Obama while Barack addressed him as John.  

Obama started off much better than McCain.  The beginning of the debate focused squarely on the economy, which is Obama’s strong point, but McCain gained steam earlier on thus making the end result of the debate a draw.  Senator Obama appeared comfortable and fully informed on the issues.  He made no gaffes, pronounced all the names of world leaders effortlessly (unlike McCain) and came off as calm and level headed.  McCain was altogether not very likable.  He constantly belittled Barack Obama which was a surprising tactic as it turned off the viewer.  Furthermore, John McCain made quite a few gaffes for someone with his experience.  He had difficulty with a few names of foreign leaders and referred to pre-Musharraf Pakistan as a “rogue state,” which is simply untrue.  

In the end, both men came off as knowledgeable, but it was Barack Obama who came off as presidential.  Sure, McCain may have more experience, but it is Obama who has demonstrated the temperament to command this country at this precarious time.  After watching McCain’s actions this week, I would be worried were he the president.  He vacillated all over the place.  He went from the campaign trail, to suspending his campaign, to calling off the debate to then agreeing to debate after all.  It appeared to me like a last ditch effort- try this! No – try this! No? How about this?

Frankly, neither candidate hit a home run during this debate.  If anyone won, I think it was Obama, simply because he held his own, appeared knowledgeable and confident. In my opinion, John McCain came off as petulant and chiding, but still well informed and experienced.  So basically it was a draw.  Now on to debate number two…



{September 21, 2008}   How Far Have We Really Come?

This past year, there has been a lot of talk about “how far we have come as a nation.”  Barack Obama is a serious contender in the race for the President of the United States, something that only 20 years ago would have been unimaginable.  It is almost hard to believe that my father came of age in the era of segregated schools – an age of acceptable racism – and now may see a black man elected to the highest office in the land.  So, it is true, we have come a long way, however much remains to be done. 

Just this past week, the AP published the results of a poll which found that

“Barack Obama’s race could be the deciding factor if the presidential battle remains a dead heat on Election Day… The survey finds that many white Americans — particularly Democrats and Independent voters — still hold deep-seated reservations about African Americans… Obama’s support could be as much as 6% higher if there were no racial prejudice involved…”

This is just further evidence supporting what many of us already know; discrimination is still alive and well in America.  The days of outright hate and persecution have given way to a new kind of bigotry.  It ripples below the surface, lingering in the shadows, and is just as dangerous as the hate of decades past.  These days the majority of people are less outright in their biases, yet the beliefs still hold true.  There is evidence of this everywhere: the country clubs that brazenly exclude Jews, schools and neighborhoods which remain “segregated” despite integration and racial profiling which pops up everywhere from airports to street corners.  I would be hard pressed in this country to find any member of a minority group that feels fully accepted by American society. 

As a Jew who grew up in a community largely devoid of a greater Jewish population, I never had slurs flung at me, but somehow always had a knowledge that I was different.  I was once invited by a friend to go swimming at her ‘club’ and was thouroghly  confused when my mother told me it would not be appropriate to bring along the new towel my uncle had just brought me back from his latest trip to Israel.  The towel had Hebrew letters emblazoned across its surface, and she didn’t want it’s presence at the ‘club’ to make anyone uncomfortable.  At 10 I was confused yet compliant (I brought a pink and white striped towel in its place).  However, I distinctly remember being acutely aware of my presence as an interloper the entire day.  I feared what might happen should someone find out I was Jewish. Would anyone dare ask me to leave?  Luckily, the day went off without a hitch and I had fun swimming with friends- but I knew I was unwanted.  For the rest of my young adult and teen years I remember questioning whether or not those of my friends whose families were members of these clubs thought less of me because I was a Jew. 

This is the discrimination of today.  It is pervasive and uncertain.  It is safely hidden behind closed doors and not oft spoken aloud, and thus we fool ourselves into believeing we have made leaps and bounds as a nation.  In reality the shift is less pronounced. 

I do not mean to take anything away from the civil rights movement, and fully recognize the amount of progress it has made in this country.  Our society is certainly more integrated, and minorities continue to succeed more and more with each passing generation.  However, it would be foolish were we to blind ourselves to the amount of work which remains to be done.  I dread the day when I will have to explain to my children why in America -a country where “all men are created equal” – we did not afford gays and lesbians the same rights as those given to heterosexual couples. 

Barack Obama’s candidacy has done a lot to lift the veil of discrimination in American society.  His campaign has acted as a mirror showing us not only how far we have come, but how far we still have to go.

 



et cetera