Friday, April 27, 2007

Good ole Mom

Los Angeles – Not to be dramatic, but any visit to the City of Angels always brings me before my personal demons and my greatest adversary. With my teeth clenched tight enough to break and my mind racing, I am forced to confront the person who has dogged me at every turn in my professional life, wielding a strange power over my psyche and crushing my ideological beliefs into so much dust. That person would be my mother.

Despite what I've accomplished in my happy-go-lucky amble through life, good ole Mom views me as a narrow-minded, proto-fascist sprung from the womb of enlightenment. That’s right; she’s a radical, militant, liberal feminist. Educated at U.C. Berkeley and UCLA, she’s a longtime political activist, she’s a recognized expert in the arcane but critical mechanics of the statewide initiative process, voter registration, and ballot procedures (recall Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 in considering the significance of these issues). That’s why this faithful liberal workhorse remains appalled at the trajectory of her eldest and no doubt dearest son.

It all started when I left U.C. Berkeley to transfer to Williams College, from the hotbed of activism to a stodgy, elite eastern school. "Well, we'll just see how that words out for you," she sniffed.

Soon thereafter I began my descent into career oblivion, as she sees it, she actually answered the phone one day at house, when William F. Buckley Jr. was on the other line to offer me a job at National Review magazine in New York. Improbably, at the time, I was also interviewing with the CIA, which sparked her to call me a "traitor." When I accepted the magazine job, she sat in the living room, head bowed in hand, and said, "So this is what your father and I get after all we've done for you."

It continued down hill from there. Stints on the editorial pages of two conservative newspapers were met with muffled groans and gnashing of teeth.

Soon I was off to Washington D.C. to work for Congressman Bill Thomas, a California Republican cut from the Reagan mold. "Just get used to being in the minority, son,” was all she had to say.

Then it was to a speechwriting position in the administration of President George HW Bush -- you know, pushing the triumphalist line while gloating over the fall of those awful commies. "You’ve made a pact with the devil," she duly noted. Then I joined the Army reserves. "Have you no shame?" was her response.

There was no stopping the lengths at which I would go to disappoint and infuriate her. I got a job with a House committee position in the now resurgent GOP-led 104th Congress. We Gingrich-led political shock troops were going to change the world and all she said was, "Don't get used to being in the majority, son."

Now this tangled trail of professional failure and missteps has led me to a political appointment in the administration of President George W. Bush. When notified of my post, she exclaimed to no one in particular "I have now seen the face of evil." Oh that Mommer, what a card.

And it's not only in the grand sweep of politics and ideas that our battle takes place. It's the everyday things. We are having dinner and she asks me how I'd like my steak cooked. "Medium," I reply warily. "Well, I wonder what Ann Coulter would say about that," she shoots back.

Yes, she's my mother, but of course, sheer pride allows me not give an inch. Sitting on the patio of our home in Los Angeles, attempts at reason are made. I observe, "I'm quite fond of you, Mom, but your distorted world view continues to make me question your sanity." She signs condescendingly and says, "When my kind takes over, you'll be swept from the face of the earth." "Thank you,” I reply.

When I was recently quoted on the front page of the New York Times on a Medicaid issue, she called and said, "Congratulations. I see you're beating up on poor people again."

Mother will always have the last word. When I mentioned that I'd served as a reference for two longtime Democrat friends looking for jobs in town, she smiled and said, "That’s nice. It's good to have people who owe you." I evinced surprise at this hardball style from dearest mom. She smiled and then added, "Because my poor, misguided son, you're day is coming and you're going to need all the help you can get."

Carteret County (N.C.) News-Times
Copyright 2007 Carteret Publishing Co., Inc.
All rights reserved.


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