Obama Speechwriter Leaves Democratic Party-Calls It "Tired And Out Of Date"Former John Edwards and Barack Obama speechwriter Wendy Button has had enough. She sees Obama for the fraud that he is, and now she has come to understand that the modern Democratic party, in all of its glory, is a massive political sham:
When we first met, Obama and I had a nice conversation about speeches and writing, and at the end of the meeting I handed him a pocket-sized bottle of Grey Poupon mustard so he wouldn’t have to ask staff if it was okay to put it on his hamburger. At the bottom of the bottle was the logo for “The South Beach Diet” and he snapped, “Oh so you read People magazine.” He seemed to think that I was commenting on his bathing suit picture.
I helped with his announcement speech and others. I worked in the Senate when he was in D.C. One day after a hearing on Darfur, we were walking back to the office. I was still hobbling from a very bad ankle injury and in a very kind and gentle way he offered his arm when we approached the stairs. But later in debate preps and phone conversations and meetings, I realized that I had made a mistake. I didn’t belong. No matter how hard I tried, my heart wasn’t in it anymore.
See campaigns get complicated when you’ve written for so many Democrats. Not only had I written for Senator Edwards, but I had also been Senator Hillary Clinton’s speechwriter. Senator Joe Biden is a “good looking” man and his care after my father almost died from an aneurysm is the kind of kindness you never forget. When I saw Edwards at a traffic light in D.C. about a year after our meeting, he asked for help and I did and it was an honor to help him with his concession speech. And when the primary ended, it was a privilege to help Michelle Obama with a stump speech, be considered as a speechwriter for the V.P. nominee again, and send friends in Chicago ideas until the financial crisis hit. This is what the Democratic Party has been for me; it’s family. Now, it doesn’t even feel like a distant cousin.
This drift started on a personal level with the fall of former Senator John Edwards. It got stronger during the Democratic National Convention when I counted the substantive mentions of poverty on one hand and a whole bunch of bad canned partisan lines against Senator John McCain. Some faith was lifted after Senator Hillary Clinton’s grace during a difficult hour. But that faith was dashed when I saw that someone had raided the Caligula set and planted the old columns at Invesco Field.
The final straw came the other week when Samuel Joseph Wurzelbacher (a.k.a Joe the Plumber) asked a question about higher taxes for small businesses. Instead of celebrating his aspirations, they were mocked. He wasn’t “a real plumber,” and “They’re fighting for Joe the Hedge-Fund manager,” and the patronizing, “I’ve got nothing but love for Joe the Plumber.”
Having worked in politics, I know that absolutely none of this is on the level. This back and forth is posturing, a charade, and a political game. These lines are what I refer to as “hooker lines”—a sure thing to get applause and the press to scribble as if they’re reporting meaningful news.
As the nation slouches toward disaster, the level of political discourse is unworthy of this moment in history. We have Republicans raising Ayers and Democrats fostering ageism with “erratic” and jokes about Depends. Sexism. Racism. Ageism and maybe some Socialism have all made their ugly cameos in election 2008. It’s not inspiring. Perhaps this is why I found the initial mocking of Joe so offensive and I realized an old line applied: “I didn’t leave the Democratic Party; the Democratic Party left me.”
The quote was Ronald Reagan's, of course, which is liable to make our militant friends on the other side simply discount it. Wendy Button's story, however, is not isolated. Many a good Democrat have been picked on and put down, and ultimately pushed out. As I have pointed out in this space before, if my interest in politics could be considered familial, it comes from the maternal side of my family, where I come from a long line of politically involved Democrats. My Grandfather left the Democratic Party largely because he also felt disconnected from the political order that he once considered to be much like a family. He often said that in his younger days, being a Democrat was second nature. Democrats are quite good at crapping on their own, as well as showing the depths of their hypocrisy.
What planet am I living on? Everyone knows that when it comes to appearance, there’s a double standard for women politicians. Remember the speech Speaker Pelosi gave on the floor the day of the bailout vote? Check out how many stories commented on her hair that day and how many mentioned Congressman Barney Frank’s.
Here we are discussing Governor Palin’s clothes—oh wait, now we’re on to the make-up—not what either man is going to do to save our economy. This isn’t an accident. It is part of a manufactured narrative that she is stupid.
Governor Palin and I don’t agree on a lot of things, mostly social issues. But I have grown to appreciate the Governor. I was one of those initial skeptics and would laugh at the pictures. Not anymore. When someone takes on a corrupt political machine and a sitting governor, that is not done by someone with a low I.Q. or a moral core made of tissue paper. When someone fights her way to get scholarships and work her way through college even in a jagged line, that shows determination and humility you can’t learn from reading Reinhold Niebuhr. When a mother brings her son with special needs onto the national stage with love, honesty, and pride, that gives hope to families like mine as my older brother lives with a mental disability. And when someone can sit on a stage during the Sarah Palin rap on Saturday Night Live, put her hands in the air and watch someone in a moose costume get shot—that’s a sign of both humor and humanity.
Has she made mistakes? Of course, she’s human too. But the attention paid to her mistakes has been unprecedented compared to Senator Obama’s “57 states” remarks or Senator Biden using a version of the Samuel Johnson quote, “There’s nothing like a hanging in the morning to focus a man’s thoughts.”
I can no longer justify what this party has done and can’t dismiss the treatment of women and working people as just part of the new kind of politics. It’s wrong and someone has to say that. And also say that the Democratic Party’s talking points—that Senator John McCain is just four more years of the same and that he’s President Bush—are now just hooker lines that fit a very effective and perhaps wave-winning political argument…doesn’t mean they’re true. After all, he is the only one who’s worked in a bipartisan way on big challenges.
Before I cast my vote, I will correct my party affiliation and change it to No Party or Independent. Then, in the spirit of election 2008, I’ll get a manicure, pedicure, and my hair done. Might as well look pretty when I am unemployed in a city swimming with “D’s.”
I realize that Ms. Button is being intellectually honest with herself and with the world when she says that she is now an independent. What is most important about her path down the road of political reality is that she sees the modern Democratic Party for what it is; a nest of high-brow, self-absorbent, intellectual hypocrites who masquerade as friends of working America.
I understand what it is like to be poor, I get what it means to have no money, and I know that if you have initiative and drive you can improve your lot in life. Most of these people are champagne socialists-they rail on about the need to help the poor, but most of them have no clue about what it is that they speak. George Soros and Warren Buffett are classic examples of that. Among some of the other modern-day Democrats-John Edwards is a good case in point-they've been among the elite for so long that they are too busy getting $300 haircuts from Christophe of Beverly Hills rather than understanding Middle America.
John and Cindy McCain may have seven houses, but Senator McCain is a real American hero who, unlike many of our friends in the party opposite, has never claimed to be anything politically other than exactly what he is. Rather than thumb his nose at Joe the Plumber and others like him, John McCain embraces the successes of working people and wants to adopt policies that will encourage them to be more successful.
Just as many liberals demonstrated earlier this summer that they do not understand how evangelicals and other conservative Christian groups think, so many of these folks just don't get everyday Middle America. Perhaps the one benefit of an Obama administration is that it will precipitate a mass exodus from the Party of the Jackass.