Democrats don’t smell blood the way Republicans do. They don’t keep their eyes on the prize and concentrate on wrestling the White House away from an opposition that thumbs its nose at their beliefs.

Republicans-- by their own admission—have a motley crew running for president, none of whom feels just right. Recently, arch-conservative Mike Huckabee has surfaced as the standard bearer. Romney may spend more and Giuliani may preach more than the former Arkansas governor/evangelist, but Huckabee keeps gaining.

Democrats, meanwhile, spend more time attacking each other than challenging their political foes.

Most voters are sick of the current regime. It would follow, therefore, that this race is the Democrats to lose, and lose it they may as they did four years ago. Are they learning-disabled?

Democrats Clinton and Obama bring a historic opportunity to the nation. The question is whether or not the party of the left-- which pretends to stand for tolerance and equal opportunity-- can get behind one of two qualified people who could become the first female or the first black president.

So why is “electability” getting more play than it deserves? How “electable” any presidential nominee may be is subject to as many variables as there are voters. Perhaps “electability” is code for whether an N-word or an insert-favorite-derogatory-term-for-woman is a greater risk?

Democrats seem too willing to encourage skepticism about whether the country is ready for a woman or a black president. What does “ready” mean, exactly?

It means getting beyond the bigotry Democrats should have abandoned in the 60’s civil rights movement but which, apparently, lurks just below their skin.

“Ready” means that the traditional white, male Democratic power base must finally put its money where its mouth has been for decades because a white woman and a black man have risen to the top of the heap and deserve their party’s support. “Ready” means embracing unity in the same way that Republicans—especially at the extreme edges of that party—understand the need for that term. They stand behind their nominee—sometimes gritting their teeth-- because the other party’s platform is just too unacceptable.

Whether the Republicans choose Huckabee, Romney or Giuliani- the likely contenders to top that party’s ticket—their candidate will not embrace the values, beliefs, and constitutional interpretations basic to the true Democratic tradition. In that sense, they should all be outside the realm of consideration for GOP opponents.

Those who say they stand for “inclusion” have an easy choice in 2008--“inclusion” on one side and “exclusion” on the other. While skin color and gender ought to be only footnotes in this presidential election, with Obama or Clinton likely to top the Democratic ticket, one of two representatives of America’s most victimized classes will test Democrats’ true commitment to equal opportunity.

The choice facing voters next November may bring out the best in America, or it may expose the worst of our fears, ignorance and secret hatreds. The real question should be whether or not the country is “ready” for such a tragic exposé?

Rudy: Opportunist Numero Uno

“Campanilismo” is defined as blind attachment to one’s birthplace, traditions and ethic. In that spirit, members of groups like the Sons of Italy and the National Italian-American Foundation (the fifth largest “ethnic” organization in the country) will follow Rudy Giuliani to his last political breath. Others, not blinded by campanilismo see Rudy for what he really is: a duplicitous opportunist who threatens their ethnic pride.

The former NY mayor likes to say, for example, that he had four uncles who were New York policemen. The December 3 edition of Newsweek writes of another uncle, Leo D’Avanzo, described as a “…loan shark and bookie with mob connections who operated out of a bar named after” cop/uncle Vincent D’Avanzo. Vincent “acted as a front man for the bar.”

Giuliani’s dad, Harold, was a bartender there. Newsweek says he kept a baseball bat and a gun under the bar in case things got rowdy, and “[used] the bat and his fists to collect debts” for his brother-in-law. Harold “served more than a year in Sing [sic] prison for mugging the milkman.”

This family tree-- even for ethnic loyalists-- falls short of direct bloodlines to Leonardo da Vinci.

Geraldine Ferraro, the first woman to run for Vice-President, received little ethnic defense when it was said her father might have run numbers. Giuliani has been given impressive latitude as a frontrunner for the Republican presidential nomination, even while questions continue to be raised-- by and the NY Times, to name just two sources—about city spending irregularities regarding the mayor’s travel to visit his then mistress/now wife Judith Nathan.

The mayor’s circle is strangely silent: Giuliani’s long memory, vindictive nature, and abhorrence for “disloyalty” are well known. Unlike Harold, Rudy doesn’t need a baseball bat to settle scores.

Even detractors of Giuliani and his party are intrigued by how desperate Republicans seems to be that they could entertain the notion of Rudy Giuliani as a pro-family, pro-life, moral majority conservative. He supported abortion rights when it was convenient: now he embraces overturning Roe. He roomed with a gay couple while divorcing Donna Hanover: now he courts the far right with anti-gay-rights rhetoric.

Rudy chose a press conference to tell Hanover, the mother of his now-estranged children, that he wanted a divorce. By comparison, Newt Gingrich’s face-to-face, “it’s over,” to his wife, then in a hospital battling cancer, makes him seem like Prince Valiant. Stereotypical Italian sensitivity and blind respect for wife and children (whatever else may be happening “on the side”) seem to have eluded Giuliani.

Still, some Italian-Americans will support Giuliani because his roots, like theirs, are in Italy’s boot. (These folks may also call Oprah’s support of Obama “clannish.”)

For some of us, however, it’s not about the vowel at the end of his name: it’s about his insincerity, secrecy, vengefulness and opportunism at the end of the day. Americans will have had enough of such things by the time they get to vote for the next president-- and eight years is a bellyful.

Mary Ann Sorrentino

Mary Ann Sorrentino
Italy Series of articles runs Aug./Sept/Oct 2015

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007

Hope for the Future: Uruguay 2007
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"JOACHIM" - Oct. '92-March '08

"JOACHIM"  - Oct. '92-March '08
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