Women: The Propheteer on love, marriage and “booty”

Days after the 2008 announcement that Sarah Palin would be the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Rush Limbaugh said of it: “We’re the ones with the babe on the ticket”. In this seemingly lighthearted quip, the puppet master of the Right made certain that women would remember their place in conservative politics – a place where they are to, at best, remain loyal witnesses aside their men at the podium, and at worst, be flaunted and totally objectified.  The fact that this comment was tolerated without the slightest challenge only confirmed this status.

In The Propheteer, women, with the exception of Condi, “the Truth-bender,” receive little direct attention.  This unfortunately parallels the place of women in conservative politics, where they represent fewer than 10 percent of the Republican House and Senate presence.  This unspoken but glaring abuse of women is examined as both a male mindset and by several of the book’s characters’ direct actions toward the women in their lives.

Chapter II, “On Love”, designates “self-love” as the pinnacle of male adoration, as in, “Love gives not of itself, but takes what it pleases.”  This is taken from a similar line in The Prophet, “Love gives naught but itself and takes naught but from itself.”  Though it is contorted into the “insulated narcissism” that was the standard of the Bush Administration, love appears therein to justify one’s selfish desires.

This is played out in the very next chapter, “On Marriage”, as George advises Rudy Giuliani, the thrice-married good Catholic, as to how to best transition through marriages and disguise his affairs.  Most details of George’s advice, whether it be charging your affair “upon the taxpayers” or incurring the hatred of your children, are taken from Giuliani’s real transgressions.  The worst of which, in my opinion, was his announcement before media that he was separating from his second wife before he had bothered to inform her.  George turns this shame into salient advice: “Burden her not with a face-to-face explanation, as of a man.”

Finally, in what is personally my favorite chapter, we find Mark Sanford in his quest for “Booty.” Ironically, this chapter began as an adaptation of the chapter “On Beauty” in The Prophet, but I just could not sustain any inspiration for George to speak on beauty.  Mark Sanford’s absurd disappearance to meet his mistress in Buenos Aires made a poignant refitting. The unrepentant globetrotting adulterer, in his smug oblivion, carried on, as if no transgression had occurred, and only when faced with insurmountable evidence did he finally admit to the full landslide of his sins.  What I simply loved about his eventual concessions was that he had also attached to women about nine other times during his married life, but he insisted that he had never been physically intimate, just “kissing” (as if he’s some middle-schooler on the prowl).  Was there a better example of self-love as “the holy spirit of man?”

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Inspiration for The Propheteer

Apparently I told my wife that I had the idea for this book the day after my son was born, Dec. 23, 2008.   I don’t remember this detail.  But, behind its creation, surely there was some unconscious tie between welcoming my child into the world and the eight dark years of the Propheteer himself, George W. Bush.

To a parent, children are a religion. When the thrill of youth is fading, they give you something not unlike rebirth. When you have a child you suddenly look more keenly at the world around you and at the place into which you are bringing them. And while I had been in a place of “Outrage Exhaustion” with respect to politics during those last few years, the Bush initiation of the TARP program had rekindled my anger, and certainly I was looking at that at the time.

I still remember his quote in this regard that sums up the man’s years of conscienceless whimsy, leading the fate of the world by the ignorant flow of his own gut: “I’ve abandoned my free market principles to save the free market system.”  It’s hard to imagine a greater paradox.  It struck me as nearly unimaginable at the time, that this man who had made his name by being totally rigid and inflexible in the name of his “principles” could completely abandon this to save all his friends from the consequences of their own greed.

A high school athletic coach gave me Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet as a graduation gift long ago.  His signing included the advice to refer to the appropriate chapter in times of distress, and I have found this comforting over the years.  It was spiritually dear to me, and day after day, almost painful to transform Gibran’s timeless canons into what I see as the bared morality of the Bush Administration.

But it was clear as his term expired with a sweeping voter condemnation that George Bush was already involved in pressing an alternate history.  His minions appeared on news programs almost nightly, and more of the same continues in his book tour and memoirs to this very day.  In this context, it is important to me to provide alternatives to his story, and in this case the only way that such absurd hypocrisy can really be recreated is with humor.  Humor is the least painful way to relive the pain of our pasts.