The Ostroy Report

The Ostroy Report is a fresh, aggressive voice for Democrats and a watchdog of the GOP/Tea Party. We support President Obama and the Democratic agenda and seek to preserve the Senate majority while taking back the House. But we're also not afraid to criticize the left when necessary.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

SpitGate: It Was Just Projectile Drool, I Swear!


As the controversial healthcare reform bill was being debated in Washington two Sundays ago, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a black Democrat from Missouri, claims he was spit on outside the Capitol by an enraged white Tea Party protester. The accusation has sparked heated passions on both sides, with Democrats condemning the vile behavior while Republicans uniformly accuse Cleaver of lying. Right wing talking heads Sean Hannity and others have spent hours of radio and TV time mitigating the circumstances and denying the despicable act occurred. Tea Party groups have even offered cash rewards for evidence of said spitting. One conservative lightweight, Sirius Satellite Radio's Andrew Wilkow, arrogantly barked "This did not happen," as if he was there and witnessed the whole thing, and claimed it was more of a "say it don't spray it" fluke in which a "spit-like" fluid came out of the angry, screaming protester's mouth as the Congressman passed him on the Capitol steps. Yes, my Republican friends, this is nothing more than projectile drool, right?

Well, below is new video of the alleged spitting. I admit, it's pretty hard to tell if the enraged Tea Bagger intentionally spit on the Congressman. But some highly suspect circumstantial evidence clearly exists: (1) Cleaver obviously is either a great physical actor or some "spit-like" fluid definitely hit him in the face as he passed the protester, causing his entire body to jerk away from the accused; (2) the angry, visceral reaction from Cleaver to the protester clearly signals that something very bad had just happened. Something beyond simple partisan, anti-reform shouting; (3) notice how the protester's hands are strategically cupped over his mouth, which would conveniently conceal the act of spitting. Keep in mind that both men at this point are perhaps two feet away from each other, which would mean the rabid protester's vein-popping shouting at Cleaver would easily be heard sans hand-cupping, and that such distance might also make the "spray it" theory a bit of a stretch; (4) After he passes, Cleaver begins to wipe something off his face in disgust. Again, great acting?



Maybe, just maybe, this cretin actually did spit on Cleaver. And to be sure, he clearly did something highly offensive to the Congressman. Why can't Republicans then, out of simple human decency, just acknowledge and condemn this unacceptable behavior? They can't. It's not in their DNA. The vitriolic response from the right over SpitGate is therefore no surprise. The rush to unequivocally deny the occurrence, while simultaneously attacking Cleaver's credibility, reputation and motives, is despicable and shameful.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

If Democrats Were Republican


Bi-partisanship. In the current political climate, it's but a mere fantasy. While President Obama and the Democrats seemingly want it, Republicans would rather choke on their own vomit than support anything brought into the Beltway on a Donkey. Fortunately, the left controls much of the power these days, but if it took a page out of the GOP playbook, it might throw down a much tighter, more effective offense. In an age where fight fire with fire is needed more than ever, Democrats typically take the higher road.

The simple truth is, when Republican politicians want to get something done--be it pass or prevent legislation, defeat opposition candidates, or wage war--they march in lockstep down Pennsylvania Avenue, doing everything in their power to succeed including exaggerate, deceive, cheat, lie and character assassinate.

Republicans are masterful at labeling, framing debates, and creating catch phrases and crafty soundbytes that are quite effective and stick with voters. Some of their greatest hits: birthers, truthers, "death panels," cries of "socialism," "radical agendas," "healthcare rationing," "government takeovers," "Armageddon," "aiding the terrorists," WMD and "mushroom clouds."

The recent highly contentious battle over the health care bill is a prime example of this main difference between Republicans and Democrats. They've somehow convinced a majority of voters that the bill will force them to give up their preferred healthcare provider, switch doctors, pay more, kill Granny and have Obama dictate which procedures they can have. Of course, this is all pure, unadulterated GOP bullshit, but it works.

So I have an idea for Obama and the Dems as they embark on financial reform, the next mission on the progressive/liberal agenda: How about ramming home the following talking points:?

-"If financial reform fails, Republicans will succeed in doing away with the FDIC, and your savings will lose this guaranteed protection."

-"We need financial reform because Republicans want to allow Wall Street executives to put your bank savings into high-risk investments and you could lose your life savings."

-"Republicans allowed Wall Street executives to steal from the government and are now paying themselves big fat bonuses with YOUR money."

-"While you're struggling to make ends meet, or may even be out of work, Republicans and their fatcat Wall Street pals are making more money than ever...off of YOUR back."

-"Republicans want to allow banks to raise credit card interest rates to 30% if you're late with one payment."

-"Republicans want to raise the minimum down-payment on home purchases to 30% or higher."

-"Small businesses will suffer if Republicans have their way and allow banks to restrict credit lines to only the largest corporations."

Sounds a lot like dire warnings of "death panels," "government takeovers" and "Armageddon" you say? Exactly. Oh yeah, that's right, I forgot. Democrats take the high road....


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What's Really Behind the Health Care Hate?


Can it really be that health care reform in and of itself is the true cause of the massive vitriolic rage spewing from conservatives today? Is the Tea Party movement really about runaway government spending? Have the chilling faces of hate seen at protests across America truly been about a public option? If you ask me, it has way more to do with an ugly truth that few are willing to acknowledge: it's about a bunch of angry, bigoted white racists who see reform as little more than a black president doling out more welfare to other blacks and minorities (as the photo above, which is all over the 'net, suggests).

It's shocking to me to witness this rage over health care reform when not a peep's been uttered by these right-wing loons for the past seven years over an unjust war in Iraq that's killed thousands of U.S. soldiers, wounded and maimed tens of thousands of others, and squandered nearly a trillion dollars. Health care reform is what's heatedly brought these heretofore silent Americans into the political ring? I'm not buyin' it, sorry. Once again, racism is rearing its ugly head. Have you seen these protesters? The things they do and say? Shouting racial epithets and anti-gay slurs, and spitting at lawmakers. So angry that blood vessels are popping in their necks. Faces contorted in hatred. Screaming like animals and calling for the deaths of elected Democrats. All over health care? Really? Have we become so politically correct as a nation as to be so afraid to call this shameful behavior exactly what it is? Not me. This blatant racism makes me sick, and I'm not afraid to call it out.

The grass roots bigotry mobs first surfaced during the 2008 presidential campaign, and included the birthers/truthers (denying President Obama's citizenship) and those who attacked him and Michelle on every conceivable despicable level. The post-election movement picked up steam during last Summer's Town Hall meetings where the flames of intense anger and hatred were recklessly stoked. Almost one year and the passage of the reform bill later, and things have sadly and shamefully gotten much worse.

Former Alaska Governor and GOP presidential running-mate Sarah Palin has become perhaps the biggest perpetrator of rabble-rousing hate-speak more than anyone save for media blowhard Rush Limbaugh. She started this campaign during the election when she relentlessly incited her ignorant lemming base with claims that Obama was a radical socialist who palled around with terrorists. This week she announced her "target list" of vulnerable Democrats, marking a U.S. map with reprehensible rifle-scope bulls eyes of the districts she believes are in play. "Don't retreat, re-load," she urges. Is she speaking in code to the psychos who showed up at Obama rallies last year with rifles and machine guns?

This ruthless campaign of disrespect and hate continued and built momentum last fall when Rep. Joe Wilson (SC) barked "You lie" during Obama's address to Congress when he assured that the health care bill would not cover illegal aliens.

More recently, in the House Chamber during last week's health care debate, Texas Rep. Randy Neugebauer shouted "baby killer" as Michigan Rep. Bart Stupak, who reversed his vote on the measure after receiving a compromise over the controversial abortion-funding issue, took the podium.

This week alone, in the wake of the reform bill's passage, there've been numerous verbal attacks, acts of vandalism and death threats aimed at Democrats. A caller to Stupak's office left this outrageously offensive message in the lawmaker's office:

"Ah yes, um, congressman Stupak, you baby-killin' motherfucker...you turncoat son-of-a-bitch piece of shit. I hope you bleed out your ass, get cancer and die, you motherfucker. You do not...you do not say that you're pro-life and then for a few bucks, go turncoat and hurt the country, you motherfucking piece of shit. You bastard. Motherfucker. I hope you die."

A female caller left this voicemail on Arizona Rep. Harry Mitchell's machine: "Hi Mr. Mitchell. For the rest of your life, with the vote that you cast, you are going to have to look over your shoulder for as long as you live in this district. You are always going to have to look over your fucking shoulder because people in your district hate your fucking face. And don't you forget it. You have riled up peoples' rage. We are filled with rage and hate, today, towards you, hate like we have never, ever felt. I love my insurance company, and to have you come in between me and my fucking doctor. I cannot tell you how much I wish a panty bomber would come, would come in and just blow your fucking place up." Listen to her venomous rage. It'd perhaps be 1/10th understandable if she had a fucking clue what the hell she was talking about, which makes these attacks even more infuriating and shocking.

In Brooklyn Thursday, FBI hazmat crews were dispatched to New York Rep. Anthony Weiner's office after he received an envelope containing a suspicious white powder. Additionally, Virginia Rep. Tom Perriello's brother's house was vandalized after conservative blogs incorrectly identified it as belonging to the Congressman.

And what does ubiquitous House Minority Whip Eric Cantor (VA) have to say about these despicable acts waged against the opposition? "It is reckless to use these incidents as media vehicles for political gain....By ratcheting up the rhetoric, some will only inflame these situations to dangerous levels." So let's get this straight: Cantor's chosen to condemn what he believes is the left's exploitation of these heinous acts, not the actual acts themselves. Talk about posturing for political gain.

Adding insult to injury, Fox's resident wackjob Glen Beck accused Nancy Pelosi and other Democrats of trying to get themselves killed for political expediency's sake: "I can guarantee you they walked out and said...what the hell do you have to do to these people to get them to kill us?"

Jeez Louise, what the hell is wrong with these people? Have they all gone mad? It's become abundantly clear that the Republican Party has been utterly hijacked by its far, far, far right-wing fringe lunatic faction. And the only notable voice of reason on the right to highlight this dangerous, suicidal behavior is former George W. Bush speechwriter David Frum, who was fired Thursday from conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute a day after he had the balls to criticize his own party in an op-ed piece for CNN: "We went the radical way looking for Waterloo and it looks like we arrived at Waterloo." There's obviously no room in the party for voices of reason.

When will the madness stop, when the incendiary rhetoric and violent metaphors turn to actual horrific violence? Before the unthinkable occurs, the leaders of the Republican Party--Cantor, Rep. John Boehner, Sen. Mitch McConnell, RNC Chair Michael Steele, etc--have a moral obligation and civic duty to put an end to the hate speak flame-fanning amongst the electorate and within its own ranks. Enough's enough.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Republican Crybabies Meet Their Waterloo


In the wake of the passage of President Obama's historic health care reform bill, and over the next seven months before the midterm elections, the administration and the Democratic Party must effectively educate the American public on exactly what comprises the measure and how it will affect individuals and small businesses alike. Obama must convince voters of the significant benefits, especially as the Republican party gears up its "repeal" engine.

Fortunately for Democrats, seven months in politics is an eternity, leaving plenty of time for voters to actually decide for themselves whether or not the bill, as House Minority Leader John Boehner in an Oscar-worthy performance gravely warned, will have caused "Armageddon" and will "ruin our country." They'll see, for example, that they didn't have to switch insurance plans or doctors, as GOP propaganda has claimed. Or that the dreaded "death panels" were nothing more than Republican scare tactics. It's more likely by November that voters will no longer be operating in the current vacuum, and will be more knowledgeable about reform and the positive impact on their lives.

But make no mistake, it's going to be an ugly seven months. Republicans are like scared, cornered powerless rats right now, and they've already begun to show their campaign cards. Seething over Democrats' unilateral passage of the bill, Arizona Sen. John McCain angrily vowed this week to defiantly oppose everything Obama and the party puts forth going forward. "There will be no cooperation for the rest of the year." And Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander (TN) gave a sneak peek into the sleazy GOP playbook by suggesting that routine insurance problems will be deceptively attributed to reform. "Insurance premiums are going to go up normally, and millions of Americans are going to experience higher premiums. All this is going to be coming, and the health care bill is going to get blamed for a lot of it."

Personally, if this is the tact the GOP is going to take in its insatiable hunger to regain power, I'm all for it. Nothing like positioning yourselves as crybaby, sore-losing, self-serving obstructionist do-nothings hellbent on selling your souls, and the nation's best interests, in order to win a few House and Senate seats. So much for McCain's "country first" campaign promise. As we've seen this week, what truly comes first is the coffers of their fatcat corporate special-interest pals and the personal bank accounts of their rich, tax-loathing constituency. Fuck the poor, the middle class, the sick, the needy, the uninsured. I got mine, now go get yours. At least we know what matters most to these selfish elitists.

Last July Republican Sen. Jim DeMint (SC) arrogantly predicted that health care reform would fail and become Obama's "Waterloo" and that "it will break him." With this week's victory and the political capital its bestowed on the president, even conservatives like American Enterprise Institute fellow David Frum fear that Republicans have not just blown an unprecedented opportunity to help shape major policy, but also served to empower Obama, which is the exact opposite of what they aimed to accomplish. "The political imperative crowded out the policy imperative. And the Republicans have now lost both." He said Obama's health care victory is now the Republicans' Waterloo. "We followed the most radical voices in the party and the movement, and they led us to abject and irreversible defeat."

Yes, I'd really love to see the GOP run on a repeal platform. Because I wonder exactly which parts of the bill Americans will want to give up next year. The ban on being denied coverage due to pre-existing illness? Doing away with lifetime caps? The ability to keep children on the family plan up to age 26? The subsidizing of senior citizens' "donut hole" prescription drug coverage? Seems pretty unlikely that enough voters beyond the hard-core Tea Bag zealots will hop on the "hey-let's-repeal-all-these-awesome-new-protections" bandwagon.

So what happens next? Obama needs to craft a propaganda campaign of his own. He can start with what I call the "Repeal the Lies" PR campaign:

Lie #1: The reform bill is a government takeover of the health care industry:

There's no government takeover of anything, just an extension of the existing system. A system that includes programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, Veterans benefits/coverage, and Social Security. People will still get to choose their own private insurance, doctors and procedures.

Lie #2: The health care bill is nothing but socialism or socialized medicine:

Ridiculous. How can a bill which hands 32-million new customers to private, for-profit insurance companies be socialism? What's more, if this is socialism, then the true socialists are U.S. Senators and Congressman, who are current beneficiaries of this "socialized medicine." Fear-mongers like McCain, Alexander and Boehner conveniently forget to tell Americans that they are current recipients of this "governemnt takeover", and quite happily so. I guess it's a cool perk when you get free government health care but it's a socialist nightmare when those lazy poor and middle class folks get it.

Lie #3: Health care reform will swell the nation's already massive debt:

Untrue. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office said the bill will reduce the defecit by $143 billion over ten years.

Lie #4: The bill will result in higher taxes for small businesses:

Again untrue. The majority of small businesses in America employ less than 50 people, and these companies will receive tax credits, not increases. It is the large health, drug and medical device companies, as well as tanning salons (yes, tanning salons) who'll be hit with tax hikes.

Lie #5: The bill is the result of corrupt back-room "Cornhusker" deal-making and bribes to states like Nebraska and Louisiana for extra Medicaid money:

There are no such deals in the bill. Period.

So, Obama has a great story to tell here, and a lot of lies to dispel. And as NY Times columnist David Brooks wrote Tuesday, the president can remind America that thanks to this 100% Democratic bill, "millions of working families will go to bed at night knowing that they are not an illness away from financial ruin."


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.

Monday, March 22, 2010

What the Health Care Vote Says About the Parties


Let's face it, what the health care reform bill vote really boils down to is this: Democrats want to help people, Republicans only care about their personal wealth and keeping their taxes low. There's no other way to explain a 100% partisan vote on the historic legislation that passed in the House Sunday night.

I'll take it even an ugly step further: it's about racism. Bigotry. Anger over welfare, which is precisely how the anti-reformists and tea baggers see the measure. It's all about ignorant middle-class whites frothing at the mouth over the belief that they'll have to pay for someone else's coverage...in particular poor minorities.

It was horrifying to witness these protesting tea bag cretins spitting at and hurling vile racial and anti-gay slurs at Reps. Barney Frank (MA), Andre Carson (IN) and John Lewis (GA) as they entered "the people's House" to cast their votes. Carson reported hearing the N-word fifteen times. How surreal it must've been for Lewis who, forty-five years ago, was beaten and bloodied as he marched for civil rights. And while prominent Republicans like House Minority Leader John Boehner (OH) condemned Sunday's behavior as "reprehensible," it's been precisely their propaganda and incendiary rhetoric that's fueled the "grass roots" vitriol for the past year.

The healthcare debate is a lesson in fear-mongering. Chock full of GOP scare tactics from death panels to government takeovers and socialized medicine. I'm still waiting for one of these shameless distortionists to explain how handing 32-million new customers to private insurance companies constitutes socialized medicine, or a government takeover of anything. In fact, a convincing argument could be made that the health care bill is actually pro-business. Those who stand to gain the most are the insurance companies, the pharmaceuticals, hospitals and doctors. Not exactly what you'd call a Marxist revolution.

In the wake of defeat, Boehner and Company are whining over other objections as well. They say the bill defies public opinion, and that President Obama and Democrats are arrogantly and unilaterally deciding what's best for America. But these are the same pols who cheered and rallied when former president George W. Bush proudly boasted that he governs with his conscience and not according to public opinion polls.

The Boehner crowd also decries the parliamentary tactic known as budget reconciliation, where just 50 votes instead of the filibuster-proof 60 is needed, and how the healthcare bill will pass in the Senate this week. But it's been Republican majorities who've pushed through 16 of the 22 bills that have passed under this process. I guess reconciliation's a bitch when it's not your party doing the bomb-dropping.

There are other arguments as well, such as how the bill will lead to skyrocketing costs and massive debt. But the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office analysis made public last week concluded that the measure will actually reduce the deficit by $143-billion over 10 years. But why let facts spoil GOP opinion, right?

Look, we already have Medicare, Medicaid and government-funded health insurance for veterans. We also have government-mandated auto insurance. So there's nothing terribly ground-breaking or radical here. Which is why all the drivel about socialism and radicalism is equal parts despicable and laughable.

The message from Sunday night's vote is quite simple, and it should be aggressively and relentlessly pounded into Americans' heads at every possible turn by Obama and the party as it moves closer to November's election: "The Democratic Party once again is the party that cares about you, your children, your elderly parents, your health, your education and your overall welfare. Which is why it took 219 of us, without one single vote from Republicans, to ensure that you will never ever again have to worry about not having health insurance or being denied coverage. Americans owe Democrats a big Thank You." That's right, a big thank you. Obama and the Democrats must proudly take 100% credit for this historic piece of legislation and run with it all the way to the midterms. Let the GOP run on repealing it, as Boehner threatens. Let's see where that gets 'em.

Representing his sore-losing, crybaby party, Boehner Sunday night lamented, "The American people are angry. This body moves forward against their will. Shame on us." He's right. He and his party should be utterly ashamed of themselves for being a bunch of lying, deceiving, self-serving elitists who don't give a shit about anything but their pocketbooks. That's right John, shame on you.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

What "Pro Life" Really Means


A coalition of Catholic nuns took a very brave stand this week by defying church hierarchy in support of the Senate's healthcare reform bill. In a letter to Congress, the leaders of more than fifty Catholic women's orders and organizations, including the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, which represents over 53,000 American Catholic nuns, urged lawmakers to pass the measure.

The bill is opposed by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, conservatives, and the Congressional Republican minority, mainly over whether government-funded/subsidized insurance policies should cover abortions.

In supporting the bill, the nuns have taken the controversial abortion issue, the subject of intense and often violent debate since 1973's Supreme Court passage of Roe v Wade, and are using the Catholic Church's "pro-life" stance as the very same justification for passage of healthcare reform.

"We agree that there shouldn't be any federal funding of abortion," said Sister Simone Campbell, of Sisters of Social Service, and also executive director of Network, the national Catholic group behind the effort. "From our reading of the bill, there isn't any federal funding of abortion."

But here's the truly incredible, groundbreaking part of Campbell's comments: "For us, first of all, tens of thousands of people are dying each year because they don't have access to healthcare, so that is a life issue."

Finally, a logical, practical interpretation from some in the religious community of what it truly means to be "pro-life." Kudos to Sister Campbell and the 53,000+ other nuns for focusing on the millions of uninsured Americans, and those who die each year as result of poor or no healthcare, and for considering what their lives are worth.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Tiger Woods: 18 Holes Here I Come!


Isn't America great!? It's truly the land of Evelyn Wood-style public relations rehabilitation. In announcing his April 8th return to the Masters tournament Tuesday, golf legend Tiger Woods proved once again that, when it comes to money over morality, it's all about the Benjamin's, and always will be.

As "Wall Street's" Gordon Gekko famously opined, "Greed is good." And Tiger's comeback clearly demonstrates how quickly the greedy, bored, desperate golf industry--fans included--will welcome him back with open arms,

Americans have short memories, and debauching celebrities and politicians are all too happy to give the public what it wants. The scandal pages are littered with famous folk who've done the crime and seemingly not paid much time. Pervy back-biting sodomizing NBA announcer Marv Albert was "fired" by NBC yet back less than two years later. Uber-hypocrite slut-hound Eliot Spitzer, New York's former attorney general, returned to the spotlight after a two year absence and is now a broadcast political analyst and bizarre defender of hooker-cheating vs. cheating-cheating. And Woods' extramarital Olympics has taken infidelity to a whole new dimension. Yet, here he is, back after a measly four month self-imposed exile, ready for Main Street and Madison Avenue to fall in love all over again. What's next, John Edwards running for Congress this Summer?

I'm no PR guru, but it's become painfully clear that a high-profile fall-from-grace needs only to follow a very simple road to redemption: issue a quick website-based public acknowledgement of the scandal and ask for privacy for your family; stage a dramatic and controlled press conference a few weeks later to offer up your half-hearted mea culpa; spend a few weeks in rehab; tease the media-whores about a possible return; and then a few weeks later announce said return. Yes, Virginia, it's that easy.

So let's just stop all the dramatic death-knelling every time one of our beloved heroes is literally caught with his proverbial pants down. They'll come back. They always come back. Just ask the crack-smokin, hoe-bangin' Mr. 3-Hour-Motel-Room-Special himself, Marion Barry.

Friday, March 05, 2010

The Presidential Cigarettes


President Obama last Sunday had his first medical exam since becoming commander-in-Chief. The results? He's in great physical shape, albeit for high cholesterol and a continuing nicotine addiction. The president wants to quit smoking, but he simply can't.

Last June, Obama called himself a "former smoker" who occasionally "slips up" and has a cigarette. And on Monday Press Secretary Robert Gibbs admitted Obama "occasionally falls of the wagon when it comes to that," but added that the president "continues to chew nicotine gum."

I find the president's failure to quit smoking fascinating. Obama's a man who's seemingly been able to accomplish in life everything he's wanted, demonstrating unwavering discipline, resolve and ambition. Born of mixed race parents who divorced when he was young, Obama's defied the massive odds against him to become America's first black president. He was the first black president of the Harvard Law Review. He became a U.S. Senator at age 43 and almost immediately began campaigning for the most powerful job in the world. This is a guy who looks adversity in the face and says, bring it on. Someone who says, I can instead of I can't. So why the heck does he find it so hard to quit smoking?

Truth be told, I will never be president. I'm just not smart enough, and I lack the temperament and self-control needed. I would've called John McCain a dick in the opening minutes of the very first debate. Or when Republican Congressman Joe Wilson yelled "You're a liar!" at Obama during his health-care address to Congress last year, instead of mentaly counting to five and then responding with a sheepish "Not true" as the prez did, I'd have grabbed my nuts and yelled "Lie this, asshole!" But, I did quite smoking 18 years ago, and cold turkey no less. So why can't Obama, a guy who seemingly can do anything he sets his mind to?

The answer is simple: cigarettes are the glue that keeps Obama sane. It's his one major vice. It's how Mr. Cool-as-a-Cucumber keeps from losing it. When Obama lights up a butt, it's not just smoke that gets filtered, but an ungodly amount of negativity and stress heaped on him from two wars, a near economic depression, the burden of health care reform and the looming November midterms, where his far-reaching coattails will likely carry his party to success or failure at the polls. So when he exhales that smoke, he's also exhaling the monumental pressures of the job. Honestly, I think without smoking, this guy cracks.


On another note, we could use your help at The The Adrienne Shelly Foundation. We're a 501 c 3 tax-exempt, non-profit organization dedicated in my late wife's honor, and with a simple mission: supporting women filmmakers. Adrienne, who wrote, directed and starred in the hit film WAITRESS, was killed November 1, 2006. Through the Foundation, her commitment to filmmaking lives on. We've established scholarships, grants, finishing funds, screenwriting fellowships and living stipends at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts/Kanbar Institute of Film; Columbia University; American Film Institute; Women in Film; IFP; the Nantucket Film Festival; the Tribeca Film Institute; and the Sundance Institute. Your generous contribution will go a long way towards helping us achieve this very important mission. Please click here to make a donation. Thank you.