by Joyce Marcel
American Reporter Correspondent
June 21, 2007
BLOOMBERG GETS A FREE GET-OUT-OF-CULTURE-JAIL PASS
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- At a certain point in the Belmont Stakes last Saturday, the filly Rags to Riches, who was engaged in a head-to-head race with Preakness winner Curlin, stopped being a female and became, instead, a (rather splendid) race horse.
In other words, she assimilated completely into the event of the moment. Her sex stopped mattering. All that mattered was that she was damn fast. When she won - the first filly in 102 years to win the Belmont against the guys -sure, she made history. But in the last seconds of the race, all that counted was that she had the head, heart and speed to take the great Curlin down.
Given that, you'd think this column would be about how we're all one, how gender and race and sexual orientation are just social constructs that we should rise above, how in the end they really don't matter, and "Kumbaya, Lord, Kumbaya." But I'm too cynical for that.
Certain "outsider" members of our society get a get-out-of-culture-jail-free pass. "Welcome to the club," it says. "You're one of us, one of us." Since this is America, the free pass is usually based on achievement.
Oprah gets a free pass, certainly. Sure, she can talk Ebonics when she feels like it, and call people "girlfriend," but she's made so much money and she's so popular that they'd have to bring back Jim Crow and start hanging black people from trees again before anyone would notice that Oprah's in that category, too.
How about Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman? When he ran for vice president with Al Gore in 2000, a great deal of noise was made over whether the country was "ready" for a Jewish vice-president. Lieberman was (and still is) a moralistic prude and the most Republican Democrat in the Senate, but those character traits didn't count. Only his religion did.
But that was then and now is now. I'll bet that if New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg runs for president (and it's suggested that he's considering it), his Jewish religion might not be much of a factor.
Why the difference? Lieberman's a politician. He may have made himself whiter than white, or WASP-ier than WASP, but he remains a construct of the U.S. Senate, with no earthly use outside of it.
Bloomberg, on the other hand, is a self-made billionaire. Like the Google guys, he created a brand-new product, a brand new company and a brand new fortune. In our country, that's almost too great. Of course he gets a pass.
Does that mean that religion is now off the table? Nope. We're not that enlightened yet. Mitt Romney probably won't get a free pass on being Mormon. No one likes the guy. He's flip-flopped on every position he's ever had. He's shamelessly selling himself to all the highest bidders. He was a terrible governor in Massachusetts. In fact, he wasn't even in Massachusetts most of his last two years as governor. There's so much to dislike about Romney that it's hard to pick one issue, so it will probably come down to "Nope, not ready for a Mormon yet."
A free pass is a nice thing to have. Hillary Clinton has one. No one is talking about whether a woman can be president of this country. Clinton, like Margaret Thatcher before her, has transcended gender. She's completely gender-neutral. And she's married to the sexiest man in America!
Hillary Clinton is without honor, without humility and without ethics. It hardly matters that she's also without a penis.
Barack Obama? Not really black, so he gets a pass. OK, his skin is dark. But it is African-Americans who a lot of white people don't seem to like. Maybe they feel a certain amount of guilt for buying and selling them all those years, and then for repressing them for hundreds of years more. Obama is half-white and half African. So he - and not Al Sharpton - will get a free pass.
Right now, to me, Bloomberg is the most interesting candidate (or non-candidate) in the race. He's a Democrat who runs on the Republican ticket. He doesn't have to sell his soul to raise money because he can finance his own campaign any time he wants.
It means he can step into the race at any time - maybe five or six months from now, when we're so bored with the other presidential candidates that we can't look at them any more.
New Yorkers say he's a pretty good mayor. When he talked about the recent foiled plot to blow up JFK Airport, he said the most sensible thing I've heard in years. "There are lots of threats to you in the world. There's the threat of a heart attack for genetic reasons. You can't sit there and worry about everything. Get a life,"
The U.S. is going to be in bad, bad shape when - and if - President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney ever leave office. We don't need ideologues. We don't need Republicans posing to see who can be the most macho, or Democrats posing as liberals but with their hands out and their butts owned. We don't need another white male WASP millionaire, even if she's a woman.
We need a good manager, someone to pick up the pieces and start putting the country right again. Bloomberg might be the guy.
America needs to sweep the cobwebs out of its mind. It's about talent, creativity, competence, intelligence and energy. It's not about wedge issues, religion, abortion, victim groups, gender or even political parties.
We should all have get-out-of-culture-jail-free passes - the whole damn country of us. Let the talented and creative lead the way.
A collection of Joyce Marcel's columns, "A Thousand Words or Less," is available through joycemarcel.com. And write her at email@example.com.