Have you ever gone on a Nantucket Sleigh Ride? If you answer, “Yes,” then you’re an asshole.
Now, some of you might live in Nantucket, or close thereabouts, or maybe you visited that nice burg on the coast of Massachusetts and while there, in the winter as gentle snow flakes fell to Earth, you hired one of those cute, Christmassy horse drawn sleighs for a nice, romantic winter sleigh ride across the snow and through the woods with the one(s) you love.
If that’s you, you’re not an asshole. You’re a hopeless romantic.
Some think hopeless romantics are assholes because they, according to some, live in a fantasy world. I’m not one of those cynics. Not by a long shot. I can be hopelessly romantic and cynical at the same time, not an easy feat to pull off. It takes a special brand of psychological maladjustment for it, one that a person is born with or has had the razor-edged seeds gored and twisted into them for many a year. I’m not really sure which, but some of us have it and it’s no picnic. It’s like the angel and the devil on your shoulders thing, times ten on steroids.
Another thing: the term “hopeless romantic.” You ever notice people who are considered hopeless romantics tend to have more hope than everyone else? Some call it delusion, but really, not all hopeless romantics are delusional. Maybe a few.
Blanche was delusional, but I wouldn’t mistake her for a hopeless romantic either. She just talked like one for the men she tried to impress. Of course you have to get a ways into the first act before you figure that out. Her sister Stella was the romantic in that family.
Maybe we should call them “hope-filled romantics.”
Anyway, if you had that quiet, night time sleigh ride through a snow covered park in the town of Nantucket, with sleigh bells ringing and carolers off in the distance singing “O Holy Night,” you are a paragon of virtue. We celebrate you and all you represent this Holiday Season — Seasons Greetings.
A Nantucket Sleigh Ride, by its nautical definition, is the act of getting pulled through the ocean by a whale after having harpooned it for the purposes of harvesting it’s flesh for oil. In other words, anyone who has had that kind of Nantucket Sleigh Ride is a whale killer and therefore an asshole.
As far as I know we no longer have whalers here in the United States. We like cetaceans; we love cetaceans, so much so we cage them in water-filled enclosures and coax them to perform for our entertainment. Bottlenose dolphins and Orcas primarily, but on occasion, those white beluga whales.
For the most part, at least here in the U.S., the cetaceans in captivity are well cared for, but still, they are in captivity.
Some countries still engage in the act of killing whales for profit, Japan chief among those nations. They do it behind the façade of the “scientific permit,” which allows the whale killers to hunt whales under guise of doing it for scientific research. That odor you suddenly smell; that’s bullshit.
Believe it or not this is leading to something, although the plight of cetaceans is a most worthy topic. What got me to thinking about Nantucket Sleigh Rides wasn’t even the rock band Mountain. No, what made me think of a Nantucket Sleigh Ride is the dissolution of the GOP.
In 2010 the hatred for Obama that was the hallmark of the Tea Party carried the GOP into control of the House of Representatives and close to taking control of the U.S. Senate — the Democrats were trembling. At the time I remember some pundits expressing words of caution about getting so involved with extremists and giving them any power, but the GOP was giddy with the numbers of voters the Teabaggers brought to the polls in 2010. Especially because voter turn out for the Democrats was really low that year.
As you recall and maybe you don’t because we all like to erase bad memories from our consciousness, the half-term governor of Alaska was, it appeared, calling the shots in the Republican Party. Everyone wanted her endorsement because if Sarah Palin endorsed someone’s candidacy the Palin faithful would give that person their votes. Which, as it turned out, wasn’t 100 percent true, but it was true enough that the GOP establishment trembled at the thought of crossing Sarah Palin.
Things soon started going bad for the Grand Old Party. First of all they couldn’t stop passage of Obamacare. Then, to shore up the party faithful and the Teabaggers, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell declared the number one priority of the GOP was to make Barack Obama a one-term president.
Republicans around the country were going crazy with extreme legislation, from attacking women’s rights, to a newer form of Jim Crow to keep Democrat voters from the polls. Oh, and the legislation attacking workers’ rights. That didn’t go well with voters, especially in Wisconsin and Michigan.
The extremism didn’t remain out in the states either. John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, became the Speaker of the House in 2011 and he stated their number one goal was jobs — but instead we saw one bill after another attacking the rights of women. We saw the new speaker try and craft legislation with the president; we were told at one point they, Speaker Boehner and President Obama, had a deal on the budget … and then not when the Teabaggers, backed by Senator Jim DeMint and his primary threatening ways, would not go along.
The year (2011) went downhill even further as the Teabaggers took us over a cliff when they stopped our government from extending the debt limit to pay the bills created by our government. It was the first time in history the U.S. defaulted. We lost our credit rating as a result. No compromise could be reached, thanks to the Tea Party’s insistence on no compromise, so both sides punted with the Spending Controls Act of 2011, which brought us to today’s latest political crisis. And again the national debt limit is part of this fiscal cliff thing.
Then the 2012 elections were upon us. The GOP saw one goof after another take the lead in the presidential race, from crazy Minnesotan Michele Bachmann to the pizza man, Herman Cain. Rick Perry of Texas got in the race, as the Great White Alternative to Mitt Romney, the man every Republican was afraid might get the nomination. That was it for Romney … until Perry started speaking into the microphones.
The Tea Party declared Romney was not to be the nominee, over and over again and in the process they pushed out the two reasonable candidates that would have actually posed a real alternative to President Obama: Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota and Governor Jon Huntsman of Utah. They just weren’t extreme enough. Better to have a nominee like Michele Bachmann or Herman Cain than Pawlenty or Huntsman.
That was the picture the GOP presented to the millions of voters who were still undecided. The closer it got to the inevitability of Mitt Romney, the crazier the Tea Party’s loudest advocates got. Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, although the latter lost his high profile position at Fox.
The GOP having a hearing on birth control without any women for witnesses on the first day of panels. Limbaugh calling a woman a slut because she presented a cogent argument for birth control being covered by health care plans, Glenn Beck calling the president a racist who hates all White people … and then the continuing crazy talk, from kooks like Donald Trump, perpetuating the birther nonsense. And the picture of extreme conservative Governor Jan Brewer of Arizona behaving rudely towards the president, wagging her finger in his face.
Yeah sure, that all looked and sounded good to the base, who reveled in the hatred toward President Obama, but for all those moderate, undecided voters the impression they got from that was one of the patients running the asylum, the lunatic fringe controlling the levers of power in the GOP.
Their party’s candidates could be so offensive at times it was unbelievable. Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock the most egregious and public. Two Senate seats that should have been in the (R) column but went (D) after the (R) candidates talked.
Then there was the Republican National Convention. People on the dais were begging the attendees to get excited, to no avail. The American public saw Clint Eastwood talking to an empty chair. Then we heard the candidate’s own words about the 47 percent. The slide down the scale was so glaring even Democrat-leaning pundits were feeling sorry for the Republicans. Not a lot, but a little.
The national election came and it was all over before Florida could even have a voice in it. Of course, who really wants to wait two weeks while the Sunshine State cleans up its mess?
Bush’s Brain couldn’t believe Ohio and Pennsylvania were going for the president. Even his collaborators on FoxNews were calling Rove on his BS.
The day of reckoning had come and the GOP lost. It wasn’t fair. The Dems had a better candidate, one their party believed in, a guy with a better campaign operation than the other guy. What did the GOP have? The biggest flip-flopper in the modern history of politics with a running mate whose biggest claim to fame was writing a budget that eliminated Medicare, one of the most beloved of all federal programs. It was like the GOP just put the millstone around its own neck and jumped in the water, hoping to swim.
Now, at the end of 2012 the Grand Old Party is dissolving; Speaker of the House John Boehner is acting like a powerful speaker, kicking aside any Teabagger that doesn’t want to play ball.
Back in the day, like up to 2007 even, the GOP was known for its discipline and adherence to the party line. No one got out of line and mavericks were not tolerated. Even John McCain changed his mavericky ways and became a party loyalist, if for no other reason than to win his party’s nomination.
Once the Republicans brought the Teabaggers into their fold that discipline collapsed as the new people decided the establishment Republicans were just part of the Establishment and needed to be dealt with in the same manner they intended to deal with that Barack Hussein Obama: with as much scorn and disrespect as they could display.
That’s coming to an end. Even the self-described “Young Guns,” that trio of yahoos with the temerity to give themselves a tough guy nickname, are falling into line. Congressmen who didn’t stand with John Boehner when the going got tough found themselves out in the cold.
One of those Tea Party congressman kicked off of key Congressional committees, David Schweikert of Arizona, was invited to be on Morning Joe on MSNBC. Schweikert couldn’t explain himself or his cause. It was exasperating for noted liberal/progressive Mika Brzezinski. All the Congressman could say was that “they” couldn’t give up the fight. We never found out what “they” were fighting for, or even who constituted “they.”
This we do know, “they” are the Teabaggers and they want to unseat the Establishment, including the old line Republicans and ultimately dismantle the federal government. Is that what Schweikert and his Tea Party colleagues are fighting to accomplish? Taking down the government?
Maybe it went over Schweikert’s head this past month, but the GOP tried that and failed at the national level.
And that, my friends, was the Nantucket Sleigh Ride.
The establishment Republicans harpooned the Tea Party and instead of getting the Teabaggers into their boat, they got taken for a ride they didn’t want and ended up with a sinking ship. And like the men of the whaling ship Essex, they started eating their own.
But this isn’t all roses for the Democrats. As the GOP proved in 2010, mid-term elections matter. The Democrats cannot take this presidential election for granted in 2014. If they want to maintain the position they have now, the Dems have to get out the vote. If the Dems want to gain ground in 2014 they have to get out the vote because the GOP will use its grassroots, with its “I hate Obama” mantra and get out their voters.
Here’s a reality the Democrats need to acknowledge: 30 of our 50 states have Republican governors and many of those states are completely controlled by the GOP. As former Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill famously said, “All politics is local.” If the Democrats really want to take advantage of the current situation in the GOP, they’ll need to change their mid-term strategy because they’re losing in the state houses.
That itself is a ride liberals are — should be — tired of: winning the big election, but losing so many of the local elections. The 2012 elections should be the start of retaking the government. Show the GOP what a metaphorical Nantucket Sleigh Ride really feels like. We can equip the boat with a nice sound system and play the 31-minute live version of Mountain’s song, “Nantucket Sleigh Ride” to remind them what’s going on. And maybe a copy of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick; or The Whale to read.
“Why did the old Persians hold the sea holy? Why did the Greeks give it a separate deity, and own brother of Jove?
Surely all this is not without meaning.
And still deeper the meaning of that story of Narcissus, who because he could not grasp the tormenting, mild image he saw in the fountain, plunged into it and was drowned.” — Ishmael, Moby Dick
Tim Forkes started as a writer on a small alternative college newspaper in Milwaukee called the Crazy Shepherd. Writing about entertainment issues, he had the opportunity to speak with many people in show business, from the very famous to the people struggling to find an audience. In 1992 Tim moved to San Diego, CA and pursued other interests, but remained a freelance writer. Upon arrival in Southern California he was struck by how the business of government and business was so intertwined, far more so than he had witnessed in Wisconsin. His interest in entertainment began to wane and the business of politics took its place. He had always been interested in politics, his mother had been a Democratic Party official in Milwaukee, WI, so he sat down to dinner with many of Wisconsin’s greatest political names of the 20th Century: William Proxmire and Clem Zablocki chief among them. As a Marine Corps veteran, Tim has a great interest in veteran affairs, primarily as they relate to the men and women serving and their families. As far as Tim is concerned, the military-industrial complex has enough support. How the men and women who serve are treated is reprehensible, while in the military and especially once they become veterans. Tim would like to help change that reality.