For the past couple of years I've spent a lot of time talking about political reality, as in the need to understand that it exists and to behave accordingly. I generally bring this up whenever the petulant utopian left is throwing a tantrum over one thing or another not being completely, precisely what it wants and consequently scuttling a pretty good situation or antagonizing a quality leader because the whole thing isn't perfect, allowing a far lesser situation or leader to triumph. I get the argument that in order for certain kinds of progress to happen, demands have to be issued and adhered to, but to act as if the sacrifices made in the name of that kind of thick-headed intransigence are no big deal -- or to make the decision for everyone that it's a bullet worth taking -- is just breathtakingly arrogant. The Greenwalds, Sirotas, and Hamshers of the world believe that in order to subvert the established order, which they see as irredeemably corrupt, it's perfectly acceptable to burn it all to the ground, no matter who suffers in the conflagration. That's not maturity or accountability, it's teenage nihilism. It's being a political League of Shadows.
The latest glaring example of this kind of thing was the staunch opposition from some on the left to the primary victory of Newark, New Jersey mayor Cory Booker. As you probably know, Booker won the Democratic senate primary in New Jersey two weeks ago, meaning that he'll go up against Republican Steve Lonegan in a special election on October 16th. During the lead-up to the primary, Booker faced down all kinds of heat from the pissy left, who cast him as a Wall Street-friendly plutocrat who's practically indistinguishable from his ostensible opponents on the right. The criticism came in the form of hundreds of tweets and inches and inches of internet copy banged out by the likes of Salon's Alex Pareene -- whom I generally enjoy reading -- who implored voters in Jersey not to cast their ballots for Booker but to instead funnel them to Booker's opponent, Rush Holt. Thankfully, as usual, nobody listened to this counterproductive horseshit and Booker went on to win in a landslide.
I call it counterproductive because, well, it is -- and there's simply no denying that. The facts bear it out.
While Booker may not be the prefect candidate from the left, while he may indeed be a little too cozy with the titans of industry whose lack of restraining and immunity from accountability -- to say nothing of prosecution -- helped to gangbang the global economy, he's still a Democrat, and a Democrat was always going to face the Republican in the special election. Whoever won the primary for the Dems was gonna be the one going head-to-head with Steve Lonegan, period. And who is Steve Lonegan? Well, let's look no further than two days ago at a comment he made about his newly minted opponent, Cory Booker. For a while now, rumors have circulated that Booker might be gay. Why the perpetually terrified right would think this is anyone's guess other than the fact that it's perpetually terrified, that it lives in abject fear of being infected with gayness that will either "turn" it gay or just send it to an eternity in hell through association and tolerance. Rarely is the question of Booker's sexual orientation publicly discussed by reputable outlets, let alone other elected officials, but it's of course fair game for Steve Lonegan. One reason is that to him it matters. Another is that he, Steve Lonegan, is an idiot.
Lonegan seems to have a problem not only with the fact that Booker has refused to put the rumors of his homosexuality to rest -- this is SOP for the right: concoct a controversy out of thin-air then react with suspicion when the target refuses to address the charges -- but that he engages in behavior that someone like Lonegan thinks is a dead-giveaway that a man might be a little light in the loafers. "It's kind of weird. As a guy, I personally like being a guy. I don't know if you saw the stories last year. They've been out for quite a bit about how he likes to go out at three o'clock in the morning for a manicure and a pedicure," he said on Tuesday. Get it? To Steve Lonegan, getting your nails taken care of is gaaaa-aaaaay. But Lonegan doesn't stop at a defensive argument about what isn't masculine; he steps up and asserts his manliness in the affirmative. "I don’t like going out in the middle of the night or any time of the day for a manicure and pedicure. It was described as his peculiar fetish, is how it was described," Lonegan says. "I have a more peculiar fetish: I like a good Scotch and a cigar. That’s my fetish, but we’ll just compare the two." Sure thing, tough guy. With all that testosterone backing up in your nuts, how do you ever get through your day without ripping the head off a grizzly or banging your way through a 747 full of stewardesses?
Now it's true that for a long time Booker refused to directly confirm one way or another whether or not he's gay, but his response has always been that people shouldn't care. "So what does it matter if I am? So be it. I hope you are not voting for me because you are making the presumption that I’m straight," he says. Now you tell me, who's more of a man: a guy who doesn't give a shit whether you think he's gay or not and who once ran into a burning building to save a young woman, or a paunchy putz who probably couldn't take an ass-kicking if it was doled out by a nine-year-old girl? Come to think of it, Lonegan's silly "I like a good Scotch and a cigar" line sounds like it was lifted directly out of some "How To Be a Man (or Just Look Like One)" book, as if he needed a quick cliché to rattle off because he doesn't actually know what makes a real man. Is Steve Lonegan overcompensating? Is he hiding something? Is he secretly gay? On the down-low? I demand that he address this accusation immediately.
Here's the thing: Whoever won the Democratic primary was going to face this little turd in the general -- there's just no way around that reality. And Rush Holt, Alex Pareene's unsullied knight in shining armor -- who's indeed a decent man -- was polling about even with him; there was a pretty good chance he wouldn't beat him and that Scotch and Cigars Asshole Lonegan would then be Senator Lonegan. Booker was always going to kick Lonegan's doughy ass into next year; he was practically a sure thing. So that's what it comes down to: sticking to your intractable, incorruptible, uncompromising convictions and very likely putting the worst person imaginable -- an admitted homophobe who already vowed that he would be taking his paleoconservative talents to Washington if elected -- into the U.S. Senate, or putting a guy who may not be everything you want but who still is some of what you want in a position to stomp that jackass back to the stone age where he belongs. Sure, by defeating Booker, you'd maybe be issuing a big fuck-you to Wall Street, but you'd almost surely be screwing over millions of gay Americans, albeit unwittingly, which provides little comfort to those getting screwed.
This is what I mean when I say -- over and over and over again -- that for all the pious whining, shouting, and tantrum-throwing, reality is reality. You can either accept it or ignore it, but you do the latter at your own peril. Actually, no, not just your own peril -- everybody else's as well.