Several years ago, Karl and I got the opportunity to see My Fair Lady on the big screen at the Castro theater in San Francisco. I’m not sure that Karl thought of it so much as an opportunity, more like part of the ongoing requirements of being married to me. If 2001: A Space Odyssey had been playing instead, those opportunity/requirement shoes would have been on the other foot.
In addition to Oscar winning work from Rex Harrison, George Cukor, and Cecil Beaton, there’s the music of Lerner and Loewe. The score boasts “The Rain in Spain” and “I Could Have Danced All Night,” but it was another song that particularly resonated with me watching in that 1920’s movie palace in the middle of San Francisco’s historic Castro District. In that setting, the lyric “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?” takes on a different meaning.
Of course, a 21st Century sensibility would have no problem deconstructing Henry Higgins’ misogyny and classism, but really—what’s the point? I suppose it would have been nice to have had Audrey Hepburn (or rather Marni Nixon) singing a retort to Rex Harrison along the lines of “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?” but that would have been asking too much at the time. The obvious response to both questions, if we don’t get bogged down in the details, is “Why not indeed?”
Leaving Eliza and Henry to the battle of the sexes (an idea that is still relevant today, despite gender fluidity), let’s turn our eyes to American politics. Some Democrats still seem thunderstruck that almost no Republicans, particularly those holding office in Washington, are evaluating the evidence against Trump and not concluding that he should be impeached and even removed from office.
They might as well be singing “Why can’t a Republican be more like a Democrat?” Not that I should ever get into the business of speaking for Republicans, but that answer is obvious. Because Republicans do NOT eat their own, as codified by Reagan’s eleventh commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of any fellow Republican. (It was really from California GOP chairman Gaylord Parkinson, but Reagan popularized it.)
Democrats, on the other hand, sometimes do. I give you Exhibit A (Al Franken) and Exhibit B (Katie Hill). Had a Republican been caught as they were, the most likely response would have been a closing of ranks in support of them, possibly raising them to the Presidency in due course.
Oh, sure, the Republicans have Steve King, who The Washington Post described as the “Congressman most openly affiliated with white nationalism.” He finally got all of his committee assignments stripped from him earlier this year, and there have been “calls” for him to resign. But he’s still in office.
While the Republicans had a particularly rancorous presidential primary campaign in 2016 (we can’t un-hear the references to penis size, can we?), only the most politically naïve thought the Republicans wouldn’t fall in line once Trump secured the nomination. Meanwhile, the Democrats ultimately failed to unite sufficiently after a less bloody primary to secure the win for Hillary Clinton. (I know there were many other factors, but I’m just going to name drop Susan Sarandon and let you fill in the blanks.)
Now we’re less than two months from the Iowa caucuses and the New Hampshire primary, and the polls in both states are literally all over the place. The top four campaigns must be sorely tempted to do what they deem necessary to get any advantage available, no matter how transient. Unfortunately, we may see at least a couple of them over the next week or two set a cannibal Christmas table.
Social media allows rank and file Democratic voters to carve up the candidates, but ignoring the damage being done to their chances in the general election next year is an invitation to reference King Pyrrhus.
Since the beginning of the 20th Century, 19 elections have been held with incumbent presidents seeking to extend their time in office. They have been successful 74% of the time. Removing Trump from office, either through impeachment or at the polls, is clearly an uphill battle. Democrats need to choose wisely and act wisely. Otherwise, my next reference will be to Captain Edward Smith.