Years ago when I was a newspaper reporter, I stuck to the old rules of that profession. Support no politicians or parties, anywhere but in your heart. You never know when you might get assigned to cover one of them. Best not to show your hand and undermine your image as someone who presumes fairness - not to mention your access to the candidate.
Well, in my days as a reporter in the seventies and eighties it was like that. So much so that I didn't even register as a Democrat, breaking a two-generation tradition in my family. I was an Independent. And just as well. Most politicians were either crooks, opportunists or immoral. Just ask any wizened newspaper editor and he'd tell you so.
I stopped working for newspapers to write books, which turned out to be both liberating and self-censoring. I don't have to be so careful about my political opinions anymore. But that beautiful daily access to readers in anything other than my own blog is gone. Still, I think it's worth it. I don't think I could ever be a reporter again; not the old-school way, anyhow.
I couldn't do it because, like any politician, I have a constituency.
One is severely autistic.
The other is the sibling of a severely autistic young man.
And, it is in large part because of them, that I was thrilled to hear that Senator Hillary Clinton is running for President.
She is not as glittery a thinker or speaker as her husband - but glitter is not what mothers like me want. She makes mistakes -the war was her worst- in the name of trying to do what is best for the whole country with the information at hand. But she knows how to say she made a mistake. And when she sees she has made one she notes it quickly.
Her vision for healthcare was right on, way back then, as anyone who has paid an insurance deductible lately must know. She lost that crucial battle because she was "the wife." Since then she has demonstrated she has the patience and fortitude to take the long way to fix it. By wanting, winning and taking the job of Senator as her primary professional mission, over that of "the wife" of the former president. And by ultimately understanding that she will only be able to fix the country she so clearly understands by leading it from the grandstand.
What else do I like about Senator Clinton?
She listens to voices from many walks of life and I have every reason to believe she will continue to do that from the grandstand. I have it on "deep background" - I may not be a reporter anymore but I still have sources - that Senator Clinton calls all kinds of everyday people, including a nun in Queens, on a regular basis. So she can hear what they think. These are not people in focus groups, whose opinions the Senators reads. These are people with whom she has real conversations.
I feel that I can have one with her, myself. That I can tell her what the one in 166 children who now have autism will need as the years pass. What their siblings will need. Why, for example, the use of mercury in vaccines as a mere preservative was very possiblyakin to murdering the souls of so many children in the name of making money. Why we don't want to murder more children by causing a panic in which parents refuse to vaccinate their children.
I feel I can tell her my simple ideas and she will listen. Here's one: Make sure that every parent and every doctor is aware that preservative-free vaccines are often available. And make them aware that they need to double check what is in those vaccines, anyway.
Hillary will get that. Shemay not be glitter but she is reason.
We don't have to turn many pages in our daily newspapers to read about politicians who have none at all. I am not merely talking about the Bush administration or about men. On page 16 of today's New York Times, we read about California State Assemblyman Sally J. Lieber who wants to waste our time by making spanking children under three years old a crime.
Sally. Sally. Sally. Or excuse me, Assemblywoman Lieber. Please tell me how this is going to stop the really abused, starved children who make the news all too often? The ones we never see until it is too late. People don't see these kids being beaten and killed. They are going to see them getting a little whack on the behind?
Is this a proposal that will stop the autism epidemic, which may turn out to be our number one children's health problem? There are more children now with autism than there were with polio at the height of that epidemic.
Another thing Assemblywoman Lieber. Sometimes autistic kids have temper tantrums and aggressive behaviors. It comes with the disability. Sometimes they hit, or bite their parents. To an untrained eye, though, it could look like the adult is hitting them. False accusations are made.
If you want to listen quietly instead of legislate randomly, I would be glad to tell you how many times that has happened to me, my husband, the wonderful caretakers who help us and any number of other parents.
Senator Clinton when you make your next round of calls you please put Assemblywoman Lieber on your list? And, after you listen to her as I know you will do, talk some sense into her as well.