When I was growing up in Puerto Rico we had many wonderful neighbors, several of which continue to inspire me to be a better person to this day.
This post is not about them.
While I was still in grade school my parents bought a nice big house, next to which lived Doña ________. Doña (pronounced donya) is used as an appellative for adult – married or unmarried – women in Spanish the way Miss is used in the South, as in, Driving Miss Daisy. Because of Miss Daisy, for the purposes of this post, we’ll refer to this lady as “D.”
Like many women all around the world, D was a bitter and angry woman that could find no joy in everyday things and who hid her character under a mask of smiles and overt, sometimes aggressive, courtesy.
D was the kind of woman who could never be pleased, and I venture guess that the day D is welcomed into Heaven by the angelic chorus she’ll complain that they are out of tune. She would find the time to smell the roses for the sole purpose of finding fault with the size, color and shape of the roses, the number of thorns, the texture of the leaves, how they were arranged, the color, age, shape and size of the vase, and the amount and quality of the water used.
Of course everybody and everything was fair game for D’s comments, me included, which at first came as a shock since I was just a shy (yes, that was a long time ago) little kid minding my own business.
As a child, I didn’t understand the “why” of her actions but I certainly started noticing the pattern of D’s criticism on others: When it came to appearance, the better someone looked, the more fault D would find with them.
As I got older I even started to use D’s feedback as a gauge: the more she complimented what I was wearing, the worse I looked in it. If D hated my outfit, it meant I had a winner. She would not outright say “you look awful”; instead she would find flaws in the fabric, cut, fit, and on and on until she wore you down.
(Since she didn’t like dreadful striped trousers, I have made the photo available for all the world to see. Her dislike meant that while the trousers are ugly the overall effect was not bad.)
As an adult, I realize that D was acting out of insecurity and envy. As a young girl, I just thought she was obnoxious, but having been raised proper I kept my opinion to myself.
I’ve been thinking about D for a while now, and she comes to mind when I’ve been hearing all the criticism heaped at Fred Thompson.
It all started with accusations that Mrs. Fred was a bimbo: Too attractive, too young, and all that. It turned out that Mrs. Fred has a substantial career of her own in Washington.
Then someone said that Fred had been a womanizer. Several of Fred’s former girlfriends went on the record saying he’s a great guy.
Then there were stories that the first Mrs. Fred was angry at him. The first Mrs. Fred came out in public and had only good things to say about Fred.
Then someone said that Fred’s children were disaffected at their father. His children actually like him, and by the way, his kids turned out OK.
Then there was the Fred-lacks-substance stuff. Fred blogged right along ignoring them.
Then there was the Fred-as-lobbyist meme, particularly when it came to his work for the National Family Planning and Reproductive Health Association. As it turned out, sixteen years ago Fred spent
a whopping 3.3 hours lobbying “administration officials” on behalf of the organization, and also talked to its president 22 times, presumably advising her about how to take her case to the executive branch. Nothing in the records contradicts Thompson’s statements that 1) he has no recollection of working on behalf of this group, and 2) he is quite sure that he did not lobby John Sununu on its behalf.
Then there’s the rumor that Fred is gay. As if that was bad.
So here we have it:
He’s a gun-toting womanizing twice-married gay guy who is loved by his children and liked by attractive women lawyer -who might have lobbied on abortion sixteen years ago -Senator movie star on horseback.
That should cover just about every constituency there is.
And he’s not even running yet.
I wonder if D’s in charge of coming out with these accusations.
UPDATE, Thursday 2 August
What you don’t know does matter: The forest from the trees, and Fred