Friday, October 03, 2003

I had been going to make a couple of observations on the California recall election, but then I remembered that I come from Massachusetts--specifically Boston--home of some of the most bizarre and incomprehensible politics in the nation. I am put in mind of the old saying about glass houses and stone throwing.

How bizarre and incomprehensible is it? Well when I came here to study at age 17 in the 60s, this state elected its governor and lieutenant governor in separate campaigns and elections so it could and did happen that you would have a Democrat in the top seat and a Republican standing by or vice versa. Then there was the city councillor of a community just south of the city who ran for re-election from his jail cell where he had been imprisoned for embezzling the funds of his constituants--and won. Then there is the old tactic when it gets down to the final days of a close race of attacking a candidate on the grounds that he or she isn't really a good Catholic.

The way this is done is to distribute a comic book-style broadside giving statistics
on how many times the candidate has actually attended mass on Sunday, generally accompanied by a statement from a parish priest to the effect that, "She is a member of the parish, perhaps, if you look at her address but I certainly don't remember her coming to confession in the last several years . . " I have experienced this kind of thing with both Edwina "Winky" Clougherty who was running for Boston City Council, and Senator Ted Kennedy. "Winky" who was never referred to by any other name during the election by her opponent, is the one whose poor attendance record and failure to confess whatever she may have been guilty of was attacked in "her" comic book. Despite a walking campaign through the district to set the electorate straight on her record, she was slaughtered in the election. Remember always that Boston was the epicenter in the U.S. of the Irish immigration to the U.S. in the 19th and early 20th centuries and many of our neighborhoods remain predominantly Irish and Catholic to this day.

Ted Kennedy was the object of a 20 page "exposé" of his various faults--most of which are fully public knowledge--capped by the section that began, "So, in the final analysis, it comes down to whether or not he can be considered a good and sincere Catholic." The illustration showed Ted looking clueless with a Bishop in full ecclesiastical drag observing him through a magnifying glass and saying "Hmmmmmmmm."

So I really shouldn't comment on what's going on in California except to say that maybe the two coasts aren't so different as we have been led to believe.

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