Friday, March 03, 2006

Dallas Democratic Soap Opera, Part One

Those who miss the old TV soap "Dallas" can console themselves by watching the most remarkable substitute: the 2006 Democratic Party Primary in Dallas County, Texas. Sex, money, power, revenge -- it's all there. The entwined subplots include one candidate revealed as a former prostitute, a family who may get their revenge on an old enemy because of a jilted lover's tantrum, and an obsessive electoral stalk as the most visible element of a dying grasp to keep power. Let's sum up the scandal in three parts: Lies, Damned Lies, and Statistics.

1. Lies: A Whitened Résumé In A Pink Car Nation

State House District 108 -- Everyone who endorsed in this contest went with a salesman ("recognized as one of the top recruiters and sellers with Mary Kay and one of only 3 men to ever earn the use of the highly coveted Pink Cadillac") named Tom Malin. That included the Dallas News, before they found proof of rumors that he had been a male prostitute. Their stories are here and here. (Yes, they may insist on a free registration to read them.)

When this came out, the board of the Stonewall Democrats (the LGBT group) promptly withdrew their endorsement (read about it here), an action confirmed at a general membership meeting the next week, and so did the News (read their sour grapes here). Forgotten in all the furor is the fact that Democrats still have another candidate in the primary that they can nominate for the legislature instead if they choose, long-time party activist and former State Senate candidate Jack Borden.

Amazingly enough, when the News asked a former Dallas Democratic Chair about Malin, she told them "He's got more honesty and energy than his Democratic opponent and [Republican incumbent] Dan Branch," thus demonstrating the same tone-deafness that caused the palace revolt of Precinct Chairs when she endorsed a Republican judicial nominee. In fact, what most upset the Stonewall Democrats was that, according to their President, Malin had lied to them about his background when asked.

Malin is now following the example of a Jimmy Swaggart or Jim Bakker -- saying God has forgiven him, so voters should too. His website now thanks voters for "unconditional love", objects to "judgment", and claims "Today I am the man whom God intended me to be." To paraphrase the Hitchhiker's Guide, this must be some new and strange form of divine plan that I am unfamiliar with.

As one person wrote in the News, "it's worth pondering whether or not sending a former prostitute to Austin would raise or lower the status of the Lege." And at least one hooker was sucessful in politics before. In California, former San Francisco madam Sally Stanford became a restaurant owner and ultimately the Mayor of Sausalito. Of course, she never denied her past. Dallas Republicans have been gleefully promising to hang Malin around the neck of all the other Democratic candidates this fall, if he wins the primary.

The Bush administration burned their fingers over a dishonest "escort" just last year. Web surfers discovered that the phony "reporter" the White House was using to ask helpful leading questions at press conferences was secretly, under another name, an active gay hooker. This embarrassment led to his departure in disgrace, and even inspired a proposed opera at a political satire site, complete with a guest appearance from a certain candidate for Governor of Texas; smile at a synopsis (scroll way down the page) at La Triviata, Or, Why Did JimJeff Really Resign?.

The politicians who seek to deploy such human tools should remember another incident from history. At the height of the French Revolution, a celebration was staged at Orléans during New Year's week of 1794:
"La belle Rosalie, a young prostitute who worked the rue Soufflet, had been costumed as a goddess, with a pike in one hand and a Revolutionary red cap on her head, so that she might be paraded through town on a tremendous chariot bedecked with tricolor flags and pulled by twelve white horses led by six young men in togas. All the town's citizenry had followed, wearing Roman attire. At one point, the float had to squeeze under a low portal and the goddess was heard to shout, "Hey, you bastards! Hey, buggers! Stop, you fuckers, I'm falling off!" before she hopped down into the crowd so as to clamber back up on the other side." --Ken Alder, The Measure Of All Things
The moral is: whores may be politically useful, but you do have to watch carefully what they say.

Next: Part 2 -- Damned Lies

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