I don’t want to hear one more rude comment about John Boehner’s skin. Who cares? I know someone who wears the same self-tanning unguent; who suffers from the same unfortunate conviction that this glow makes him look healthy, rather than uremic or malarial. And in Mr. Boehner’s defense, he looks a lot better than a friend I’ll call Bill, who on top of the orange additive look also has blotches and scales from sun damage. At least House Minority Leader Boehner knows to exfoliate, and for that I am grateful. Well done, Mr. Boehner.
Nor do I want to hear another judgmental word about Mrs. Palin, Mrs. Angle or the astonishing Miss O’Donnell. These women are the three finest natural comediennes to hit the national scene in decades. No one else has come close to bringing me the number of laughs that these gifted conservative women have. Every day brings new one-liners and mirthful observations from one of them, and these never fail to lift my spirits. In fact, some days Sarah Palin is the only thing that keeps me going.
But even as we enjoy the antics, we must hasten to the aid of our country. The reason has nothing to do with the minority leader’s skin tone, or the three aforementioned Republican comediennes or, for that matter, Mitch McConnell’s chin or John McCain’s tiny anger issues, or C Street, or Rush or Cheney or Glenn Beck.
We must take on today’s radioactive politics for the sake of my 1-year-old grandson.
I was babysitting him on the night when Miss O’Donnell won the Republican nomination for senator in Delaware. The television was filled with footage of the incomparable O’Donnell and news of how she opposes masturbation and believes that scientists have successfully implanted human brains in lab rats. I could not have taken my eyes off the television for anyone else except my grandson, with his huge luminous black eyes and hair, his rosy brown skin, his toothy smile. But this toddler is so lovely, innocent and funny that he broke the spell.
Gazing at him, I realized how desperately important it is for there to be breathable air left when he comes of age, and perhaps the merest hint of an ozone layer.
I pray that the girls he dates someday will still be able to get birth control safely and easily, and that they will still have the constitutional right to choice. And if my grandson dates boys instead, that there not be institutionalized bigotry that shames him and his partner. And that the forces of social justice prevail, against all odds, so that he and this boy of his have the same rights as other married couples, so they can adopt children and make me a great-grandmother.
It’s imperative that there are still safety nets like Social Security and Medicare when his children come of age, so that great-granny does not need to move in with them. And that the men and women in the White House have somehow managed not to nuke Iran, or lie their way into another war for oil or corporate profit, like certain people I could mention.
My grandson is half-Latino, and he looks like an illegal alien. If we do not fight the terrorist anchor-baby crazies in this election, who knows what kind of racist weirdness will become the law of the land? And then what will happen? He has no gift for producing papers of any kind. He accidentally eats them most of the time. He ate his stroller’s bar-code ID tag at the airport last month. He ate a bit of the San Francisco Chronicle Sporting Green the other morning. He can’t produce no stinking papers, because he’s so busy recycling.
Plus he can only say one word, besides “Mommy” and “Da-da.” It is “abaht,” and it is all-purpose. I thought at first it might mean, “Thank you, Jesus,” or “Down with the shah,” or was even an effort to say the name of our president, in whose general excellence I still choose to believe.
It may well mean those things, but abaht also seems to mean that he loves strawberries, and that you should reread the book again now, or that the dog licked his face, and that he will so open this drawer, and he hates apple-flavored yogurt, and abaht! — throw him up in the air again. Or hand him the Matchbox Corvette. Please. Abaht. Now.
It’s a good word, so I say now to all like-minded people, abaht! Get involved now in this election. Abaht for Molly Ivins and Teddy Kennedy. Abaht — register voters, or send sane candidates a donation, or volunteer to make phone calls or address envelopes. It will greatly affect the next 40-some days, for you and this country and even this world.
I don’t expect you to find the time to help make this world a better place solely for my grandson and his creaky and fabulous Nana. Do it also for your own incoherent paper-eating grandchildren, and nieces and nephews. Do it for the poor, the aged, but abaht — do it now.
Ann Lamott is the author, most recently, of the novel “Imperfect Birds.”