Mr. Gaines,
“Pimping out”is a colloquialism. It was not, I’m sure, intended to be offensive. However, by kowtowing to the Clintons through your suspension of Mr. Shuster, you have given Hillary a platform to cry “Sexism, ” which will undoubtedly be used to further her campaign, particularly her support among feminists. MSNBC’s job is to be journalists, to inform voters about issues so that they can make wise, well-informed voting decisions. The way this issue was handled instead detracted from issues and just allowed Hillary Clinton to gain a lot of free advertising at your expense. I formerly enjoyed watching your network a great deal more than CNN, because I felt that you didn’t pander to the Clintons as they did–now I’m not so sure. Please reinstate Mr. Shuster immediately and spend more of your network’s time on what matters–not what is politically correct.

Sincerely,
Michele Franks

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I don’t remember much about September 11th. Fifteen days earlier, after my water broke at only 27 ½ weeks gestation, my daughter Isabel was born, weighing only 2 pounds.

It is September 12th I remember, when I drove nearly an hour to Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford University. As I drove past the hospital toward the parking area, I noticed that it seemed like everyone, doctors, nurses, and patients, was outside of the hospital. I asked someone what was going on, and they told me that there had been a bomb threat. My two-pound daughter, her wrist small enough for her father’s wedding band to fit it like a giant gold bangle bracelet, was still inside the NICU, one of only two departments not having yet been evacuated. The only parking spot I could find was at the Stanford mall, and I ran, c-section scar not entirely healed and all, breathless and crying, and told the security guards posted at the hospital door that I had to go inside because my daughter was still in there. Somehow they let me in, and I waited, anxiously, with my daughter and the nurses, pretty much the only people left, until we were assured that all was clear (how do they really know that, anyway?). Days later, someone told me the incident was instigated by a prank call from a Stanford student.

In the days and months that followed, with all of the fear and trembling we as individuals and as a nation had to endure, George W. Bush made me feel safe, like I could rest well at night, because he had things under control.

Six years later, after my husband was laid off from his high tech job, and we went from a six-figure income to digging for change on the floor of our car to have enough money for gas, George W. Bush vetoed providing health insurance to my uninsured, formerly two-pound baby.

A lifelong Republican, I am looking for, as the Poison song goes, “Something to Believe In.” Yes, I know that politicians are human, and disappointment is inevitable, but there seems to be a core of integrity that some people possess, and others don’t. While some Republican issues are important to me, like abortion, I think it’s important to face the fact that it’s extremely unlikely, after 35 years, that Roe V. Wade will be overturned. Other issues, like loving the poor, have been virtually ignored by the party I have been told embraces my values. (How does a “compassionate conservative” deny health insurance to any child?) The agenda set by the moral majority these last many years doesn’t accurately reflect the Bible I read. In the end, the only way to change people’s behavior is to change their hearts. You can’t legislate that.

Partisan politics don’t appeal to me. I don’t think I am alone. Proverbs 13:12a says that “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and I think there are a whole bunch of us out here tired of being heartsick. We want to hope again, believe that we can be more than we are, while also stopping along the way to lend a hand to the oppressed and the overlooked. We want to dream again, listen to a president whose words send chills down the backs of our legs, whose speeches make us cry and remember who we are. In the end, our country is not simply an intellectual exercise in democracy, but rather an enterprise in which we invest our hearts, souls and minds. It’s time to fall in love with America again, and we’re looking for someone to light the spark. Obama’s the one.

Michele Franks

I’m so glad I have some hot sauce, fresh salsa and sour cream to make this big bowl of crow I’m eating this morning more palatable. How did she win? It doesn’t make sense—that many polls aren’t wrong and I can’t bring myself to believe I live in a country where the Wilder effect (in which people tell pollsters they are undecided or plan to vote for a black candidate and then actually vote for the white candidate) still exists.

So my husband and I started our own optimistic analysis, in the midst of our, “I can’t believe Obama lost” slump.

The conclusion?

It was the tears. Come on girls, how many of us haven’t turned on the tears in an attempt to get out of a traffic ticket? When you’re young and cute (Hillary isn’t) the tears work well on men; apparently when you’re old and tired, they work on women. Hillary took 47 percent of the female vote in New Hampshire, compared to Obama’s 34 percent. In Iowa, the female vote was startlingly different: Obama soundly beat Hillary by winning 35 percent of the female vote to her 30 percent. Yes, there are certainly demographic differences that contributed to the difference, but this seems like too big of a swing to be purely due to that. It was the tears, which she used masterfully to manipulate the women of New Hampshire. Bone-tired and road-weary, Hillary cast herself as an overworked, aging Everywoman, relating to overburdened, tired women everywhere. This Everyman/Everywoman theme is something she’s been slow to grasp, but this year, we want to feel like our presidential candidate is one of us. To use her husband’s now clichéd phrase, we want to know that she feels our pain. And her tearful “share and care” session let us know that she does. Or at least that she wants us to believe she does. I believe it was a sham, an emotional manipulation the likes of which we haven’t seen since Steel Magnolias. The question that was asked before her public display of emotion did not really fit her answer. A 64-year-old freelance photographer asked her how she kept going, and who did her hair, and received the now famous response. This was a prepared outburst, waiting in the wings for an opportunity to be presented. It looks like it worked.

Women of America, I know a lot of you loved Steel Magnolias, but please don’t fall for this again. If Hillary was really an emotional, touchy-feely woman, we would have seen it in her post-Lewinsky interview. These are just crocodile tears.

Michele Franks

Mark Shields, on the MacNeil-Lehr Report the night of the New Hampshire primary, talked about one voter he had spoken to who was trying to decide between Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee. He said that the voter “saw virtues and values in both of them.”

This is the thing the pundits are missing—the inexplicable reason for the soaring popularity of both of these candidates: Partisanship is dying off among us regular folks—we are focused on the person, not the politics. I like Bill Kristol; I have watched him on Fox for years and eagerly read his debut column in The New York Times today, and then found myself becoming angry when I read him dissing Obama because of his leftist politics. I felt like he was saying he didn’t like a friend of mine, a guy who I might not agree with about everthing, but who is a stand-up, honorable guy who doesn’t deserve a bad rap just because you don’t agree with him. NBC’s Brian Williams discussed the difficulty reporter Lee Cowan had being objective when covering Barack, and described seeing “middle-aged women just throw their arms around Barack Obama, kiss him hard on the cheek and say, ‘You know, I’m with you, good luck.’ And I think he feels it, too.”

I have a been a pro-life Republican most of my life, and I love Barack. His words mesmerize me. When I read stories about his rallies to my husband, I cry. We talk about his vision, his charisma, his inspiration, how seven years ago he was so broke his debit card got declined (did this ever happen to George Bush?) and his wife shopping at Target and saying that the only reason their student loans are paid off (ours aren’t) is because her husband had two best-selling books. He is one of us. He was raised by a single mom, didn’t see his dad much (me either), knows how to use technology (is a master of using it in his campaign), and is thoughtful and contemplative. I don’t get the impression that his answers are canned. He has become Everyman.

I think the thing that a lot of pundits are missing is that many of us just don’t care about, and are even angered by partisanship. We are free thinkers, and after all of the divisiveness of the 90s, we all just want to get along, to rally behind a hero, to cheer for the same team. We are weary of all of the finger-pointing and angry words—we want to feel the love, baby.

Newt Gingrich said awhile ago that if the country wants therapy, they’ll elect Barack Obama. Well, Newt, maybe we do. After all of this country’s collective dysfunction over the past few years, we want to heal, to feel good, to trust someone again, to believe that someone with a passionate poetic voice could lead us all on to be “happy warriors.”

Michele Franks

musingmom.wordpress.com

Hillary, honey, come on—are you dense? The snarky statement you made this weekend that “you campaign in poetry, you govern in prose,” showed exactly just how out of touch with the American people you actually are. We are looking for a little poetry, and by the way, Barack Obama could prose circles around you! Even John Edwards, whether sensing his campaign’s ultimate demise, or (despite his denial) jockeying for a VP slot, has jumped on Train Obama, as was evidenced by the ABC/Facebook debate, in which he zinged you with the words, “I didn’t see these kind of attacks from Senator Clinton when she was ahead. Now that’s she’s not, we hear them, anytime you speak out for change, this is what happens,” after you sharply criticized Obama.

The likability campaign didn’t work. We don’t like you. We don’t want to have a beer with you, a cup of coffee with you, and we are sure glad not to have been one of the people whose door you hiked through the snow to knock on in Iowa.

Just like your Tammy Wynette-like Stand By Your Man support of your lecherous husband, you will not let go of your tired “Ready on Day One,” strategy, even if it is not what the American people are pining for. Here’s a tip: IT’S NOT WORKING. YOUR POLL NUMBERS ARE DROPPING. You are not even trying to adapt your campaign strategy to what the American people are obviously looking for. America’s favorite pundit extraordinaire and Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me panelist Mo Rocca called your boilerplate spiel plodding and uninspired and went on to describe your weary posse: Bill looking miserable, and Madeleine Albright “looking more and more like Aunt Clara from Bewitched.”

The reason Barack Obama and Mike Huckabee are doing well and you and Mitt Romney are not can be neatly summed up in the words of a song from the Broadway musical Damn Yankees which I have altered a bit for the occasion.

Coach:
[Spoken]
See boys and girls, that’s what I’m talking about. Being the leader of our country is only one half skill, the other half is something else…..something bigger!
{sung}
You’ve gotta have heart
All you really need is heart
When the odds are sayin’ you’ll never win
That’s when the grin should start
You’ve gotta have hope
Mustn’t sit around and mope
Nothin’s half as bad as it may appear
Wait’ll next year and hope
When your luck is battin’ zero
Get your chin up off the floor
Mister you can be a hero
You can open any door,
There’s nothin’ to it but to do it
You’ve gotta have heart
Miles ‘n miles n’ miles of heart
Oh, it’s fine to be a genius of course
But keep that old horse
Before the cart
First you’ve gotta have heart

Hillary, you have no heart. If you want to be our president, you gotta have heart. Thanks for playing, and entertaining us with a few more months of Clinton dramatics before exiting, stage left. But like Ferris Bueller said at the end of the movie, it’s over. Go home.