Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Midweek (and Midterm) Update: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

First, the good:

Democrats have, as I'm sure you're now aware, made sweeping gains in yesterday's elections, taking control of the House, and quite possibly also the Senate. Here in Louisville that manifested itself in John Yarmuth's shocking victory over five-term incumbent Anne Northup in the KY 3rd Congressional District.
Yarmuth was until yesterday best known as the founder of one of my favorite periodicals, the LEO, a local alternative weekly newspaper. Long an outspoken critic of both the Bush administration and Congresswoman Northup, he decided to literally put his money where his mouth was, fronting his campaign over $700,000 of his own money in an attempt to partially neutralize the incumbent's fundraising advantage.

Despite being outspent more than two to one, and despite receiving very little help from either the KDP or the DCCC, Yarmuth rode the wave of voter disgust with Republican leadership to an improbable victory. Of course, now we'll see if he can lead as well as he heckles from the sidelines.

For the record, I've long been a fan of Yarmuth's writing, finding him the rare lucid voice in the cacophony of propaganda masquerading as political commentary. That said, I voted against him in the primary, for these reasons:

1.) There is a big difference between criticizing and leading. I would know. I've been writing about religious issues my entire adult life, but that doesn't mean that I was a great pastor. I think that I can identify the traits necessary for a great pastor, and articulate them clearly in writing. But that doesn't mean that I can embody those traits. Similarly, John Yarmuth is a great writer and political commentator, but that alone does not mean that he will be a great Congressman.

2.) I was, despite my rather forceful letter to his campaign, rather enamored with Yarmuth's opponent in the Democratic primary, a local lawyer and former Marine named Andrew Horne. Not only was he a proven leader (despite, like Yarmuth, being a political neophyte), but he was also a fellow Methodist! I even acted in a play with his son.

3.) During the campaign Yarmuth could open his mouth without sounding mad as hell. He could say his name and have it come out as a cross between an insult and a threat.

Those concerns aside, a happily voted for him yesterday, and am beyond pleased that Louisville's most "liberal" public figure has bested a local icon and five-term incumbent. Now let's see what, if anything, newly elected Congressman Yarmuth (that will take some getting used to!) and his fellow Democrats can do with some political power. At the very least they should be able to provide a long-overdue check on the powers of the presidency.

Next, the bad:

My wrist is in worse shape than we originally thought, and will require surgery. I'm leaving in eight minutes (I'd better type fast) to go meet with the surgeon to discuss, I suppose, where he'd like to put the screws and when he'd like to put them there. There is at least some chance that my recreational tennis career will be aborted before it ever really got started.

Finally, the ugly:

I'm leading a Bible Study at church tonight for our Wednesday Evening Forum series - a continuation of our seminars discussing homosexuality. I always teach with two tools:

1. my voice, and

2. a dry-erase board.

I can't teach without writing things down on a board. It's how I organize my thoughts. So try to picture, if you will, my already poor penmanship distorted even more by my clumsy left hand. The last time I had to write left-handed was after I fell while building a treehouse in first grade. I broke a couple of bones in my right arm, causing it to bend like one of those rubberized professional wrestler dolls that I loved at the time, making me think that I would forever have a c-shaped arm. After the panic subsided, the pain set in. But the pain was a welcome relief from the horrifying belief that I had, at the age of six, permanently ruined my body.

Anyway, I had a cast on for, I don't know... it felt like forever. During that time I learned two important things:

1. Casts don't make for good weapons. I hit some poor kid with my cast on the playground at recess one day, only to discover that it hurt me a hell of a lot more than it hurt him. And

2. I can't write left handed, no matter how much I practice.

But, absent some beautiful and benevolent assistant to write all my thoughts for me (are you reading this, Sami?) I'm going to have to try writing on my precious dry-erase board left handed tonight. How's that for ugly?!?

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