11 January 2010

Latest Life Twists

You just never know who you're gonna run into these days. After all the miles I've flown over the past year, who did I end up sitting next to on today's flight? None other than former United States Senator Phil Gramm, who was one of presidential candidate John McCain's chief economic advisers and served in the House & Senate for some 24 years. I couldn't place him at first but I knew I recognized him, and said so. He smiled, said "I used to be a politician," then put out his hand and said "Phil Gramm." Of course. Facepalm. Former chairman of the Senate Banking Committee. Mentioned as a possible Secretary of the Treasury if McCain had won. Duh.

I didn't pester him too much during the flight, but we did chit-chat a bit. He says the Republicans are in a big mess of their own making and have nobody to blame but themselves. He's convinced they will gain strength in both houses of Congress this year. He quotes a friend who's been one of Mr. Obama's economic advisers as saying Obama knows "less than nothing about actually running a business or how markets work," but he wasn't elected because of his business acumen. Mr. Gramm believes all the fussing about various aspects of the health care bill are secondary to the main point, which is purely one of principle: in his opinion, Mr. Obama believes that the government should run health care. Simple as that.

In fact it was Senator Gramm who initiated the conversation as I sat down next to him and pulled out a book to read during take-off. It's called Sailing The Wine-Dark Sea: Why The Greeks Matter. He saw it and volunteered "Hey, that's a great book." As we prepared to get off the plane, he mentioned it again, and said that while he'd really enjoyed the book, there was just one thing about it. That author, he said, is "absolutely obsessed with homosexuality. He doesn't just talk about it a lot, it's like he can't not talk about it!" It was clear how he felt about the subject, and honestly I had no idea about that when I bought the book, it just looked really interesting. So I proceeded to tell him of my lifelong interest in classic civilizations and studies, Latin and Greek, how I read the Iliad for fun, and so forth. He seemed very pleased.

Obviously he didn't see the 3 x 3 Human Rights Campaign sticker on my laptop or the HRC symbol on my computer bag. Or if he did, he didn't recognize it. Would he have been quite so affable if he had? I love irony sometimes. We talked as we walked off the plane together and halfway to baggage claim, when he diverted to the restroom with a friendly smile and a "nice to talk with you."

On a note slightly closer to home, this past weekend I sent my dad a link to Newsweek's feature article by Proposition 8 opponent lead attorney Ted Olson called TThe Conservative Case for Gay Marriage. No commentary, just "Hey dad, Olson is as conservative as they get, LMK what you think of this."

Dad's response was a predictable re-hash of things he's said before without presenting any evidence as back-up: "Thanks for the reference. Interesting article but he does not deal with the core issue and that is that homosexuality is an abnormal sexual behavior in the broad sense of societies sexual practices. A socially healthy society does not condone abnormal sexual or moral practices (eg. Animals, children, satanic practices, prostitution, and same sex, etc) and remain healthy over a long period of time. You are a history aficionado and clearly know from your reading and study over your life what has happened to cultures that have stepped out of the mainstream of normal interpersonal behavior; they are not around anymore. As the statement goes: "A man is a fool who does not pay attention to his past...he is destined to repeat it." Love, Dad."

I have some ideas on how to respond but would welcome suggestions.


jnxwil said...

So what does happen to cultures that step out of the "norm", and why does it make a difference? The idea that moral decay, however defined, has brought down a culture is not substantiated by history, so far as I can tell. You could make the case that Hitler's Germany was brought down by its fanaticism, which caused them to overreach themselves in an ambitious military campaign. That certainly did not have anything to do with sexual activities of any kind. The contemptible racist attitudes in this country did not keep it from winning WW2 and going on to be a superpower. Those attitudes eventually changed, mostly.


BB said...

Please do not bring up hitler into the argument with your dad, it will force the discussion to a close and not be helpful at all. Perhaps you should show how the Romans actually fell because of 2 diseases that obliterated their population and forced them to bring in the tribes from the north to settle the inner lands.These tribes actually brought more sexual normalcy by ratio to the Roman Empire.

J G-W said...

This reminds me of a story from the life of one of my ancestors, C.A. Carlquist. He served three missions for the Church in Sweden in the 19th century.

At one point he had an encounter with the King of Sweden. In his journal he later recorded, "I did not feel that I stood in the presence of a great man...."

When I read your account, I thought... Wow, this guy has exercised real power in government; made tons of decisions that have had and continue to have a huge impact on my life. And yet, about some key things, he doesn't seem to have a clue. I thought, Really?

J G-W said...

The essay by Theodore Olson is OUTSTANDING.

Ezra said...

He diverted into the bathroom?

I LOL'd and thought of Larry Craig.

How fun, I'd never have pegged someone like that.

Humorous note, my captcha was "fachest' which sounds like Fascist. Just thought that was kind interesting to note... :)

Good to be Free said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Good to be Free said...

I don't know what direction you want to take this discussion, but you could always remind your father of the real demise of the great nations, monogamy, followed by a few prophetic quotes.

You could also mention that by his reasoning, Uganda and the most of the middle east should be the most prosperous and stable considering their intolerance for "abnormal sexual or moral practices."

Obviously there isn't as strong a correlation between prosperity and enforcement of "normal behavior" in these examples.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Cool run-in! As for your dad's reaction, I would share a quote with him--I can't find the exact wording, but the gist is hard to forget: during polygamy Brigham Young said the collapse of the Roman Empire was caused by monogamy, just as your dad and many others believe homosexuality to be the underlying issue behind the ruination of many great civilizations.
...Maybe widespread acceptance of homosexuality is what caused the destruction of the dinosaurs. Or maybe they all turned gay and just stopped procreating. You never know what could happen if homosexuals were seen as normal or even (gasp!) equal...