Happy Returns – The Progressive, 1/19/2007

The night before the mid-term elections, I left the U.S. with my galpal on a business trip to Kenya. Hers, not mine. I wasn’t sad to leave. Despite the late tide of very cautious optimism, my cynicism had me worried that at the last moment the American people would again fall sheeplike for some Rovian strategery. Gas prices went down at the voting booth. Abramoff was sent upriver. Saddam Hussein sentenced Sunday before the election! If Negroponte could have arranged it, Hussein would have been hung on Monday. I worried that when I returned to the US, everyone would be sipping Woolite Cosmos.

We laid over in London, where the papers were speculating that Bush is on the sauce again. We finally landed twenty-four hours later in Nairobi – have I told you how much I love Ambien? – and got news that the Dems had taken the House!! There was toyi-toying by the luggage carousel. Even the Kenyans were happy. They, of course, hope that their favorite son, Barack Obama, will be the next president of the U.S. as if that will somehow solve their problems.

Before we could get more election news, we flew north to the Rift Valley, out of range and off the grid. On my birthday, someone managed to pick up an errant Blackberry signal or perhaps a drum beat and we heard that Rumsfeld had resigned. For my 60th I hope to get smoke signals that George is to appear before the International War Crimes Tribunal. Impeachment is too good for him.

Africa is so stunningly beautiful, you can see why those chilled, old white Europeans just had to have it. The long range effects of their colonizing – genocide, overpopulation, civil war, illiteracy, poverty, environmental havoc –foretell the dire, long range consequences of Boy George’s colonizing binge, I mean democratizing campaign, in Iraq.

Each time, in the last six years we’ve traveled out of the U.S. we’ve dreaded the return. From Lula’s new Brazil. From Mary Robinson and Mary Patricia McAleese’s Ireland. This time was different. When we landed, everyone was a week ahead in their gloating, but I assure you, I have caught up. I had shows immediately, and selfishly worried that the electoral change would be a hard adjustment. Comedically, I admit to having grown lazy. What’s been bad for us, has been good for me. But no worries! Maybe no more goose-stepping yes-men, parroting the Republican party line. But here’s to the nutty, messy Democrats. Arguing behind closed doors, then spilling, brawling into the streets. It’s pluralism, baby!

Is it me or is there a slight uptick for women? Despite the Grand Mufti of Australia’s pronouncement that a woman without a hijab is like a piece of raw meat; despite our exporting fundamentalism and all its misogynist works to Canada, I sense a slight Winter Solstice turn toward the light. I count the defeat of the anti-choice measure in South Dakota, the many women elected and re-elected, the likelihood of a woman, a socialist, as the next president of France. Hey, Britney dumped Kevin.

So, I’ll be smiling that night in January, when that gnarly little guy swings open that big wooden door and barks, “Madame Speaker.” And I will watch happily when Nancy Pelosi sits pertly upright in her double knits, next to Dick “Waterboard” Cheney slumped and grumpy behind George as he labors through his “If I Did It” State of the Union address. I won’t be drinking a Woolite-tini. I’ll be munching New York City’s own trans-fatless Freedom Fries.

Kate “I heart Arizona!” Clinton