BEGALA AWARD NOMINEE

“Brain studies reinforce what recovering alcoholics and their counselors have been saying for years: Long-term alcohol and other drug use changes the chemistry of the brain. These anomalies in brain patterns are associated with a rigidity in thinking; both harm reduction and Alcoholics Anonymous treatment approaches focus on helping people in recovery work on their destructive thought processes. ‘Dry drunk’ is a slang term used to describe the recovering alcoholic who is no longer drinking, but whose thinking is clouded. Such an individual is said to be dry but not truly sober; such an individual tends to go to extremes. It was when I started noticing the extreme language that colored President Bush’s speeches that I began to wonder. First there were the terms — “crusade,’ ‘infinite justice’ — that were later withdrawn. Next came ‘evildoers,’ ‘axis of evil,’ ‘regime change” — terms that have almost become cliches. Something about the polarized thinking and the obsessive repetition reminded me of many of the recovering alcoholics and addicts I had treated.” – Katherine van Wormer, San Francisco Chronicle.

INSTA-COMMENT!: I sent the quote above out on the Inside Dish this week (to get a weekly newsletter from the site with advance access to articles and extra goodies, click here). Here’s one of the best emails I got in response, from someone who actually is an addict:

I’m a newly-recovering methamphetamine addict. I am part of the growing wave of meth/sex dual addicts in the gay community, but working hard on living healthy. Being HIV positive demands it, really, and with a viral load now at 75 I have a shot at living a long time. As you can well imagine this issue is extremely important to me. I have just under 60 days of good sobriety after 3 years of increasing use, so I can’t claim to be an expert on recovery issues x85 yet. But I’ll tell you this: the only rigidity in my thinking is related to the tunnel vision of extreme attachment to my drugs of choice. In all other areas, my intelligence, perceptions, and feelings are quite fine (now), thank you. To use the language of recovery to make a political attack is not just Begala-esque, it is putrid and insulting. Oh wait, is there any difference?
Bush, unlike our previous addict, I mean, president, all but admitted his addiction in this year’s State of the Union address. Thus his compassion. Seriously, when he made his comment about how addiction reduces one’s life focus into a single destructive compulsion x96 as an active addict at the time, I almost burst into tears.
For Bush, outright admission would not have been proper, as it would have given a bit too much encouragement to those of us still wallowing in the self-pity of our addictions. Bushx92s eloquent allusion to his past drug use was a far cry from Cleopatra “Queen of Denial” Clintonx92s “I lit it, put my mouth on it, sucked it, but Ix92m sure no THC made it into my bloodstream” denial.
I donx92t know about you, but in my experience, an addict working on his problem is far more honest and trustworthy than someone who may or may not have been an addict, depending on what the definition of addict is, but is in denial about that or something, or in Clintonx92s case, everything else.

Amen. I also found that section of Bush’s State of the Union profoundly moving. And his record on AIDS, in comparison to Clinton’s talk-talk, is equally impressive. Yes, I know I have my issues with his record in other areas and some of his allies, but I trust him in ways I never trusted his predecessor – even on issues where Clinton seems on the surface to be superior.

LUSKIN RESPONDS

Donald Luskin responds to my post about deficits. Check it out. In my defense, I didn’t buy into the notion that there was some kind of scandal in the report not being included in the Bush budget. My concerns are primarily about the analysis in the report, which I haven’t seen debunked. Yes, it’s far more important to reform entitlement spending than to keep taxes stable – I’d prefer we means-tested social security and extended the retirement age rather than forgo tax cuts – but leaving the entitlement crunch intact and cutting taxes at the same time seems irresponsible to me. That’s my point.

BOYFRIENDS, KIDS, ETC

Some of your email responses to my post about Jonah Goldberg’s baby is worth responding to in a post. My point, broadly, is that heterosexuals do not usually realize that they disclose their sexual orientation all the time. Whenever they mention a wife or husband or child or all the other quotidian aspects of being straight, they don’t think of it as a declaration of heterosexuality. They just think they’re talking about life. And they are. But with gay people, any such references to our partners or homes or joint travels is regarded as somehow bringing up sex. Here’s en email that expresses the point well:

I hope the Jonah tiff is tongue-in-cheek. The equating of the birth of a child or a father’s pride with your lust for the boyfriend is stunningly stupid.

Note that this reader can only conceive of my relationship in terms of lust. Not love or companionship or respect or shared interests or reading the paper together or taking turns to walk the dog or watching Jimmy Kimmel each night. All my relationship will ever be to this reader is sex. Here’s another email making the point more graphically:

I’m not sure you’ll get your wish. Heterosexuality is normal and it’s about life. Homosexuality is about sex. It’s normal and reasonable for heterosexuals to be repelled by implications of homosexual sex.

But homosexuality is no more about sex than heterosexuality. It’s a sexual and emotional orientation with exactly the same contours, dramas, blessings and bugbears as heterosexuality. 99 percent of a gay relationship is about life when sex isn’t happening. It’s about waking up together, getting to know each others’ friends and family, getting into a fight on vacation, or complaining about the weak coffee your boyfriend just made. That’s what I think of when I mention the boyfriend. I wouldn’t dream of talking about our sex life, which is as private as any heterosexual’s. And part of the trap gay people are in is that we don’t even have a vocabulary to describe our lives. Imagine trying to describe your relationship with your wife or husband without being able to ue the terms ‘wife’ or ‘husband.’ Would ‘girlfriend’ do? Or ‘partner’? Or some other either infantilizing or euphemized term? Without the right to marry and the vocabulary of marriage, gay people will be permanently, rhetorically and culturally marginalized, shunted to the side of families into which they are born, uniquely unable to participate in the rituals that bind families together and keep them intact. That’s why marriage is so important an issue. And that’s why the fight for equal marriage rights does not come from a place that wants to hurt the traditional family. For most of us, it comes from a desire to finally be enfranchised in the traditional family into which we were born. It’s a unifying, conservative impulse. And it has almost nothing to do with sex as such at all.

WARBLOGGER PLAYING CARDS

Yep, I guess they were inevitable too. I wondered why someone hadn’t had the wit to make me a Queen. Now they have.

ANTI-REPUBLICAN BIGOTS: Do they exist? Of course they do. In the gay world, I get it all the time. So does this Jewish guy.

CRIPPLING DEFICITS LOOM

A report commissioned by the Bush Treasury Department is left out of the budget, claims the Financial Times. Hmmm. Money quote:

The study’s analysis of future deficits dwarfs previous estimates of the financial challenge facing Washington. It is roughly equivalent to 10 times the publicly held national debt, four years of US economic output or more than 94 per cent of all US household assets. Alan Greenspan, Federal Reserve chairman, last week bemoaned what he called Washington’s “deafening” silence about the future crunch.

With each Bush budget, the fiscal future of this country – including its ability to fight necessary wars – is being gutted. Why are there so few conservative voices protesting? John Scalzi throws in his two cents.

RWANDA, THE SEQUEL

This astonishing and deeply depressing report from the civil and external wars that have ravaged the Congo deserves to be widely read. The Rwanda genocide – one of the most horrifying events of the last century – continues in a different form, laying waste to a vast territory in central Africa. “We couldn’t believe the things these people did during the genocide, until they came and started doing them to us,” says a market-woman in Bukavu to the Economist, mixing up Hutu killers and Tutsi invaders. There is reason for a sliver of hope, with the emphasis on sliver.

BEGALA AWARD NOMINEE: “This Republic is at its greatest danger in its history because of this Administration.” – former Klan member, now Democratic Senator, Robert Byrd.

ONE PAPER DROPS DOWD: A local Texas paper has decided not to publish Maureen Dowd any more. After her doctored quote from the president, she’s no longer a trusted columnist:

Dowd violated one of the cardinal tents of the newspaper business: Don’t mislead your readers, because your credibility is your only currency. Lose it, and the reader won’t care how good a writer you are.

Amen to that. I wonder how many other papers who syndicate Dowd are reconsidering, given her propensity to deceive.

IN YOUR FACE

I’m delighted that Jonah Goldberg and his wife, Jessica Gavora, have such a cute kid who’s the spitting image of her dad. I’m delighted that many NRO readers are equally chuffed. But next time I mention my boyfriend, would you please spare me the emails telling me I’m pushing my sexual orientation in your face? What has Jonah just done but declare his heterosexuality loud and clear? And good for him. But what’s sauce for the, er, well, you can fill in the rest of the metaphor yourselves.

HILLARY STIFFS GAYS: And activists are surprised? Were they alive during the Clinton administration? Yes, the Clintons sounded good, but, to echo Bob Geldof, on gay civil rights, they did fuck all.

EMAIL OF THE DAY: “Have you noticed that the NY Times is running banner ads at the top of The Onion’s website? I’m most annoyed at this. I read The Onion to laugh at made-up stories with forged datelines and invented quotes. Wait, no, maybe that’s the Times. I’m getting confused.” – more feedback on the Letters Page.