Politics & Theatre

Backing Barack

Now that Barack Obama has begun his campaign for re-election in 2012, I have a few comments to share of a political nature.

My feelings about our president are wildly mixed because his performance has been wildly mixed since I and others cheered our hearts out over his election in 2008.

Sometimes he takes stands that are totally aligned with my beliefs about the kind of nation America should be. At other times he allows himself to be bullied by Republicans into diluting those stands almost beyond recognition, or even abandoning them without a fight.

Can anyone truly believe that our nation would have been more effectively and humanely governed by a McCain-Palin administration? Well, actually yes, and that terrifies me. Those people will be pulling out the stops to make sure that he will be booted out of the White House in 2012 in favor of a party dominated by leaders who serve only the rich and think that teaching evolution in the schools and allowing women to make decisions about their own bodies need to be curtailed.

How enthusiastic am I about re-electing Obama? Well, I can’t pretend that he hasn’t folded in the face of conflict too often for the thrills of yore to be re-summoned at will. If there’s an enthusiasm gap among progressives, Obama has brought it on himself.

But the alternative — a return to the White House of the familiar GOP mindset made even more radical by Tea Party hysteria and obscenely well-funded, industrial-strength right-wing dogma — is alarming beyond words.

Sheer practicality demands that we who led the charge in 2008 hoisting our flags of idealism support him next year as if we were equally enthusiastic. The stakes are too high not to do so.

Meanwhile, I will be offering Obama-level enthusiasm in spades in behalf of the current recall movements in various states against Republicans who have been aiming their guns at unions, women’s rights, LGBT rights, and other populist traditions that serve as counterweights to corporate domination of America. And if there’s any chance of rebuilding Democratic majorities in both houses of Congress now that we’ve seen what Tea Party extremism amounts to in real life, that’s where my passions will reign unalloyed next year.

If Obama loses the White House because progressives are too miffed by his shortcomings to act, then there will be no one to veto a Congress-Gone-Wild. But the Hope I Yearn To Believe In is that we can replace the current Congress-Gone-Wild with legislators who don’t place Conservative boilerplate rhetoric over the genuine welfare of the American people.

And maybe who don’t suck so shamelessly at the teats of the nation’s wealthy overlords.

(And hey, Democrats: Don’t think we can’t hear plenty of those slurping sounds coming from your side of the aisle as well.)

A Theatre Uprooted

Eddie and his fellow board members at Main Street Stage have had their hands full lately. Thanks to the impending loss of the North Adams community theatre’s longtime performing space at 57 Main Street (as described in this April 7 InBerkshires article), the group’s future is full of question marks.

Eddie and others have been scouting the town for possible new venues. One thing seems certain: any new place that surfaces is not gonna match the low rent that has made the group’s survival possible in the past, and the costs involved in renovations and the moving and re-assembly of MSS’s existing equipment are going to be daunting.

So if the company decides to take a deep breath and forge ahead with greater ambitions and more far-ranging goals (as opposed to disbanding), Eddie will be going into serious fundraising mode.

In the meantime, there are two swan songs to savor in the old space on Main Street. First comes this Friday’s final installment of the popular Comedy Night featuring RBIT (the Royal Berkshire Improv Troupe) along with stand-up comedians Eric Nottke, Seth Brown, Rick Conety and Mark Jagiello. Then on May 5 previews will begin for the company’s quirky production currently in rehearsal of Anton Chekhov’s comedy The Seagull, which will open on the 7th and continue its run through the following two weekends.

I use the word "quirky" because the play is being updated and relocated in the Berkshires instead of in Russia. But it’s mainly Chekhov as Chekhov wrote it, and if you’re in or around North County on weekend evenings in May, be sure and check it out. It’ll be the last show you’ll ever get to see in the cozy space we’ve all become familiar with.

Above: The Seagull‘s cast at Main Street Stage plunges into their first read-through.

Meet Me in Northampton

I’ll be spending all day Saturday (April 16th) at the Paint & Pixel Festival in Northampton, MA. So come say hello if you’re in that neck of the woods; it’s at the Northampton Center for the Arts at 17 New South Street. You can thumb through (or even buy) a brand-spanking-new copy of my brand-spanking-new book, The Complete Wendel, while you’re there.

Eddie is coming along to the festival with me, by the way. Which reminds me: April 15 is almost upon us, so…

Happy 32nd Anniversary
to Eddie and Me!

Hey, here’s stuff of mine that you can buy!
Click a cover below to learn about my latest books.
…and click here to visit my
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About Howard

I'm a cartoonist and writer, best known for my graphic novel, Stuck Rubber Baby, and my comic strip from the 1980s, Wendel.
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4 Responses to Politics & Theatre

  1. Howard says:

    I appreciate your forgiving soul. Remember, though, that my topic wasn’t whether or not to feel disenchanted with Obama because of what many feel has been an unnecessary level of capitulation. It was about the necessity (1) to “GET BEHIND THE MAN,” as you put it, as if there were no disaffection because of the importance of not letting the government fall any further into GOP hands; and (2) to work like hell to get House and Senate seats that went GOP in 2008 back into Democratic hands—with some more added if possible.

  2. Carolyn Fabricant says:

    Re Obama: I love the guy. Cannot align myself with disaffected liberals, whose hopes and ideals, from my point of view, are always too high for the realities of politics. People really do seem to think that a knight in shining armor can just ride into Washington and turn things around overnight (i.e., in two years). What is disappointing to me is not so much this (or any) President’s ability to make good on all his promises (come ON – the promises are to get elected, and it’s not that he/they don’t work hard to accomplish them), but the political naivite of the voters.

    “You have no idea how hard democracy is,” James Carville said the other night at MCLA. Two years is no time at all to get anything done in Washington (especially given the set of problems faced by our Pres in this era), and it’s the stupid, uneducated, unrealistic citizens who are so disappointed that Big Daddy hasn’t done everything he said he’d do (Joe Biden said that’s how people view the President, as Daddy) who have created the voter-elected gridlock we now face. C’mon, liberals, WAKE UP and GET REAL and GET BEHIND THE MAN!!! No President can do it all, he has to deal with Congress (as he pointed out in one speech), and we’re the ones who elect Congress. Gotta stop putting all the blame on the President (convenient though, isn’t it).

    This one is as good as it gets, from where I’m sitting, and, if the disaffected liberals will notice, the government didn’t shut down because (in my view) this is not a polarizing President in the way that Bill Clinton was. (I liked Clinton, too). I honestly think Obama’s temperament, mentality, cool centrist approach will help us all in the end. The thing to get mad about (which I share with you) is the FUCKING REPUBLICAN MENTALITY which will fuck us all up, around, and over unless we wake up and smell the coffee and stop snivelling about lost ideals (which were too-high expectations to begin with) and GET BEHIND OUR MAN!!! Well, I could go on and on, but….

    …End of rant!

  3. Cherie Colston says:

    Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Happy Anniversary, Haaappy Anniversary!!!! And many more!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Love you two!!!

  4. Happy anniversary, guys. And many more.