A bit of local politics: After seeing the attack mailer that Norman Solomon sent out against Stacey Lawson, let me just say that there isn’t a chance in hell that I’d vote for Solomon for dogcatcher*, much less Congressperson for the new Second Congressional District here in California. What a slimeball. The mailer is sexist, chock full of class warfare, and just reprehensible. By Solomon’s lights, Lawson is morally unacceptable for having been successful in business. His argument is that financial success makes one forever ineligible for public service. The mailer drips with self-righteous BS.
Sexist: Lawson is young (41) and attractive. Perhaps the biggest mistake of her campaign was that oppo research showed that she did not vote in 8 of 12 elections since 2003 (of course she’s apologized for that, but it’s still bad). Because former Republican gubernatorial candidate Meg Whitman also had the same voting problem, Solomon uses an unlabeled picture of Whitman, an older and less attractive woman, in his attack mailer, obviously hoping people will think it’s a picture of Lawson. Scummy. It’s been reported he’s been standing up at debates (conveniently, during the closing statement portion, to preclude rebuttal), pointing at Lawson, and shouting. Did he do that to his male opponents? I don’t know; I wasn’t there. But I’ve not seen reports of that.
Class warfare: Solomon makes a big deal about how much Lawson pays in rent for her Marin house, and implies that she’s morally defective for not purchasing a home in the district in the midst of the largest housing depression in decades. He repeatedly refers to her as a “multi-millionaire,” a “carpetbagger,” and a “corporate profiteer” who “became a member of the 1% while still in her 20’s.” He reports with disdain on her recent salaries, because making money is bad. Envy much, Norman?
Incidentally, Lawson hasn’t always been well-off. Her family struggled to join the middle class. She made it through college with scholarships and student loans. But she earned a degree in chemical engineering, then a Harvard Business School MBA. Then she started a software company and sold it in 1998. That seems like an American Dream story to me. But Norman just sees the money, not the woman who earned the money.
Reading the mailer and news reports, I get the feeling that Solomon is just seething with ill-concealed rage that Lawson has been so financially successful at her age. But you know, jealousy isn’t attractive, and it’s a big detriment to a Congressional candidate. Were he to make it to Congress, he won’t just be representing the people who shop at Whole Foods and wear clothes made of hemp fiber. He’ll be representing plenty of middle-class and rich folks, too. Will their success mean that they won’t be good and pure enough to be taken seriously by Congressman Solomon?
Solomon is widely known for poorly managing his campaign. Campaign reports show that his burn rate has been absurdly high for most of the campaign. And now he blows the cost of an entire mailing attacking Lawson. This smacks of desperation to me. And quite frankly, if he can’t manage his own campaign’s finances, I don’t want him representing me in Congress.
So now let’s look at Solomon. What has he done with his life? How has he made a difference? Well, he describes himself as an “author and media critic.” I can think of a few less-useful occupations than media critic, but it’s up there in wankery. Take a look at his Amazon page. It’s a bunch of anti-war, anti-business, anti-media screeds, almost all of it from a small progressive publisher. He did a 1994 book complaining that Clinton wasn’t pure enough to satisfy him. Even then, that didn’t count as great insight; Clinton was always a centrist that was more interested in accomplishing tasks than waving ideological flags. I’m a lefty, but this kind of lefty shouting-into-the-wind stuff just makes me tired, and certainly doesn’t convince me he can help make a difference in my life. As far as I can tell, he wants to be the next Dennis Kucinich. He also did a positive mailing that mainly touts his anti-war stance. Real brave, that, considering that every other candidate in the race agrees (even the Republicans).
Sorry, Norman, just because you’ve been a professional scold for the past few decades, it doesn’t mean that other folks have to dress in sackcloth and ashes. And it doesn’t mean you can convince people like me that you can actually get anything done. I hate ideologues of any stripe. A fanatic is a fanatic, no matter if they be liberal or reactionary. And quite frankly, I don’t need a left-wing jerk ranting on my behalf in Congress.
* Are there really any elected dogcatchers? Were there ever?
[Program note: I posted a somewhat shorter version of this to Facebook.]