Friday, April 18, 2014

Gabriel Garcia Marquez, 1927 - 2014

Some recollections of a literary titan.

When he arrived in Mexico City (in 1961), García Márquez had few friends and no prospects of work. He aimed for the movie industry, but when his family ran out of food, he took a job editing a women’s magazine and a crime magazine on the condition that his name would never appear in either. Later he landed jobs as a scriptwriter and as an advertising copywriter.

In his mid-30s, his ability to write fiction appeared to have dried up. His previous novel had been written in Paris, and he couldn’t seem to finish another. According to the Uruguayan critic Emir Rodríguez Monegal, who first met García Márquez around this time, he was “a tortured soul, an inhabitant of the most exquisite hell: that of literary sterility.”

One day in 1965, as García Márquez drove from Mexico City to Acapulco for a holiday weekend, everything changed. According to legend, he was navigating a twisting highway when the first sentence of “(One Hundred Years of) Solitude” suddenly formed in his mind:

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.” 

 The practitioner of magical realism was at his best in my favorite, Love in the Time of Cholera.

The lives García Márquez next made "believable" were those of his parents, whose extended courtship was rendered into Love in the Time of Cholera, first published in 1985. The novel tells how a secret relationship between Florentino Arizo and Fermina Daza is thwarted by Fermina's marriage to a doctor trying to eradicate cholera, only to be rekindled more than 60 years later.

After the doctor died... not from cholera, but from the rescue of a parrot in a mango tree.  A bit more about "Solitude", his masterwork, to whet the appetite of those who may be unfamiliar:

It’s often said that the works of Colombian novelist and short-story writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez are quintessential examples of “magic realism”: fiction that integrates elements of fantasy into otherwise realistic settings. In his 1967 novel One Hundred Years of Solitude, which ambles through a century in the lives of one family in the enchanted Latin American hamlet of Macondo, magic carpets fly, ghosts haunt villagers, and trickles of blood from a killing climb stairs and turn corners to find the victim’s mother in her kitchen.

And how prose like that came about.

He believes that (fellow author William) Faulkner differs from him on this matter in that Faulkner's outlandishness is disguised as reality.

"Faulkner was surprised at certain things that happened in life," García said, 'but he writes of them not as surprises but as things that happen every day."

García feels less surprised. "In Mexico," he says, "surrealism runs through the streets. Surrealism comes from the reality of Latin America."

Now if you will excuse me, I have some reading to do.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

The dilemma of playing the race card

Kinda stuck on dilemmas lately.  This from Matt Bai breaks down the effectiveness of the usage of the race cudgel by Barack Obama and Eric Holder this week.

So now it's out there. After five years of studied reticence (unless they were talking privately to one another or their supporters), Democratic leaders in Washington finally went public last week with what they really think is motivating Republican opposition to Barack Obama. As Steve Israel, one of the top Democrats in Congress, told CNN's Candy Crowley, the Republican base, "to a significant extent," is "animated by racism."

Just to make himself clear, Israel did allow that not all Republicans were the ideological descendants of Bull Connor. To which I'm sure his colleagues across the aisle responded, "Oh, OK. Cool then."

But it's not the reaction of Republicans that Democrats should probably have some concern about. It's the way American voters, and a lot of younger voters in particular, may view a return to the polarizing racial debate that existed before Obama was ever elected.

There have to be some ground rules for discussion, and the first one is that everybody has to agree that Republicans and conservatives are either a) racist pigfucking assholes, or b) not racist pigfucking assholes, but perfectly willing to tolerate the ones among them who are.  In fact the enablers are somewhat morally worse than the agitators.  Their bigotry can almost be excused to ignorance; not so for those who know better.

This point is also where I will probably receive a comment from Greg Aydt that you, reader, will never see, that is rhetorically along the lines of "Democrats do it too!" (There's about sixty of them in the 'pending moderation' queue right now, over the course of the months and years, and that's just the ones I haven't deleted.  I like to go back and refresh my recollection occasionally as to the actual essence of derangement of conservative "logic".)

This point is also not going to be conceded by any other Republican or conservative, so perhaps the discussion is instantly rendered moot.  Returning to Bai now.

Coming in an election year, and in the wake of sporadic campaigns to solidify support among women and gay voters, the sudden Democratic focus on race felt like an orchestrated talking point. Israel's comments came just a few days after Nancy Pelosi, the House minority leader, suggested that racism was keeping Republicans from voting on an immigration bill. And Pelosi was reacting to a speech by the attorney general, Eric Holder, who complained to a civil rights gathering in Washington of "ugly and divisive" attacks against the administration.

So maybe it's a talking point, or maybe it's just five years of pent-up frustration.

As far as I can tell, though, this eruption on race actually wasn't born in the kind of strategy session where consultants lay out which issues will move which voters. What seems to have happened was something rarer: Washington Democrats, unable to suppress their frustration for a minute longer, simply blurted out what they have always believed to be true but had been reluctant to say. One catharsis emboldened the next.

As a unifying explanation for the abject dysfunction of our political system, latent racism seems unsatisfying, at least by itself. Is there a lingering prejudice lurking among some older, rural, white conservatives in the country? It would be ignorant of history to argue otherwise. Is this "birther" business, for instance, a reflection of racism? Without a doubt.

But conservatives do have profound and principled disagreements with Obama's view of expansive government. And it's worth noting that racial resentment has been a part of the partisan divide for at least 50 years now; it's doubtful that "birther" types hate Obama any more than they did Bill Clinton (whom they accused of serial murder, among other things). What's happened over that time is that the presidency has become increasingly personality-based, and the country more culturally cleft, so that each successive president becomes subject to an ever more irrational kind of attack on his very legitimacy as a leader.

That's pretty solid.  This divide shows no signs of even slowing down its widening.

Embracing the rallying cry in the Daily Beast this week, Michael Tomasky, a sharp and reasoned political observer on the left, pointed out that not a single Republican had shown the courage to stand up and declare racial bigotry intolerable in his party. A good point – except that I don't recall Pelosi or Israel making a version of that same speech when the highly educated liberals who despised George W. Bush circulated emails, after their defeat in 2004, depicting a red map of the "United States of Jesusland" and blaring, "F--- the South." Bigotry in our politics now takes myriad forms.

Those of us who live in Texas -- and are not conservative -- can understand this point acutely.  There are many liberals and progressives not of the Lone Star State who push consistently that Texas should be encouraged to secede, "why don't we just give it back to Mexico", or cut it off the continent and let it float out into the Gulf, or go ahead and build that border wall, but at the Red and Sabine Rivers (as if Oklahoma and Louisiana are bastions of enlightenment and tolerance).

Still, a lot of Americans who voted for Obama probably find the racism argument at least somewhat persuasive. And how persuasive you find it probably depends not just on your ideology and where in America you live, but at least as much on when you were born.

We're living in a strange moment, after all, where generations who inhabit the same neighborhoods and social networks nonetheless draw on wildly different experiences of growing up American. For the purposes of race and politics, let's assume that voters who sympathize with Obama break down, more or less, into three cohorts.

And there I'll leave it to complete reading Bai's distinctions between the chronological caucuses.

I occupy a fairly lonely piece of ground in Texas as a middle-aged, still-middle class Caucasian male who is just barely to the right of being an actual socialist.  A common species in places like Berkeley or Portland, but not so much Houston.  So I think (or like to think) that my perspective is unique, as a kid who grew up in a Democratic union household and grew into a Young Republican in college.  Sort of an Alex P. Keaton without the sitcom exaggerations.  But the truth of course is that there were tons of Reagan Democrats moving from left to right in the late '70's and through the '80's.  

There weren't a whole lot of those who were employed as managers in corporate America who had moved back, right to left, by the late '80's, though.  Everybody should already be aware of the fact that I ceased being a fan of the president's early in his first term.  And I don't care for Eric Holder much at all (I suggested he step down almost a year ago).  I agreed with Philip Bump at The Wire when he wrote that Holder's recent disrespect of Louie Gohmert was fairly shocking.  That level of insolence from a Republican attorney general would have Democrats screeching about 'above the law', we all know that.

This places me in the extremely uncomfortable position of siding with Louie Gohmert.  Given my prejudice against ignorance, the level of cognitive dissonance that produces leaves me without words.  Almost.  Enough about me, though.

Bai's point on how playing the race card is going to play out over the next few months is clear.

And so you can imagine that the sudden outburst from party leaders about racism did little to advance their cause with these voters, who are, just by the way, crucial to the Democrats' electoral math for years to come. The politics of racial grievance and identity feels about as contemporary to millennials as a floppy disk. (Look it up on Wikipedia.) They're still wondering what kind of politics comes next.

Calling out Republicans as racists probably felt familiar to Israel and the others, like returning to a place where all the landmarks are known. But the terrain of American politics is shifting fast, and there's not much to be gained by turning back.
I would have to agree.  Most Americans (that still includes Texans) who are not tuned in to the weekly partisan wrangling find this near-constant quarrel between Ds and Rs distasteful.  That's why this development is unlikely to improve the prospects of voter registration and turnout among the low-info, occasional voter that Wendy Davis and all the rest of the Democrats in Texas must have in order to be successful to any degree in November. 

And I have to hope that Matt Bai and I are just wrong about that.

Update: John Coby seems to be saying the same thing.  Sort of.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The Texas progressive dilemma

This post could have been titled 'liberal dilemma', 'Democratic dilemma', 'Green dilemma'...

"Not a Davis campaign email: Abbott still holds big lead":

As Rodger Jones notes, the daily email pounding from the Wendy Davis campaign borders on relentless, with Republican opponent Greg Abbott supposedly doing every nefarious thing on earth, short of sleeping with farm animals.

The goal, of course, is to move the needle. So far, no dice.

"PPP poll highlights areas of concern for Texas Democrats":

Jim Henson, the director of UT’s Texas Politics Project, says the poll (together with others) shows the Texas political balance hasn’t changed much — yet — from where it was in 2010, when Bill White faced Rick Perry. “So far there’s no evidence that this race is disrupting the pattern,” said Henson. “We’re settling in to what we expect from the fundamentals.” The caveat: we’re at a point now, Henson says, where voters are just beginning to tune in. There’s time for the momentum to shift, but we’re settling in to the baseline.

Well, some things are a-changin'. The Texas Libertarian Party had over two hundred delegates at their state convention last Saturday, and Ross Ramsey of the Texas Tribune even covered it.  (Texas Greens, also convening this past weekend, had around 50.  And no media coverage save a couple of bloggers.)  Ramsey wasn't much impressed, though.

The difference between this and the size of the two major parties is vast, even at a time when turnout for the Republican and Democratic primaries in Texas is something of a national joke. It's like the difference between Beer League and Major League Baseball, between paper airplanes and airliners.

Still, watching the delegates churn through rules and argue over ballots and candidates puts the personal back into a political process that often plays out in commercials and mailers and quick meetings with strangers who bang on front doors fishing for support.

The 4:1 ratio of state delegates between the two minor parties is mirrored in Texas election results: the Libs can generally draw about 4% in statewide contested races historically while the Greens get a single percentage point.  Less when the D and the R are well-known, and more -- sometimes much more, as in 15% plus -- in uncontested or low-profile races.

This monolithic political landscape, as we all know, is why Texas is... well, Texas.  It's been like this since at least 1998, when the GOP first waltzed.  With one notable exception: that good ol' Aggie buddy of Rick Perry's, John Sharp, who almost pulled off the upset in the lieutenant governor's race that year.  Oh, how different things might have been: Perry would not have ascended to the governorship upon the (s)election of George W. Bush of the presidency in 2000, Texas would have had a Democratic governor -- albeit one as conservative as most Republicans of that era -- for a couple of years, maybe more; the 'Dream Team' would have never been a thing...

Instead, the most exciting thing liberals have going in the spring of 2014 is an immigration debate between a mayor and a lite guv candidate where Democrats are cheering and screaming, "Bring on 2018!"

This is a hopeful electoral strategy if you're a pre-law undergraduate, I suppose.  The rest of us?  Not so much.

Since the olden days of the late '90's, the baseline, as Henson refers to it in the second excerpt above, has been in the 55-41-4-1% range for Repubs, Dems, Libs, and Greens respectively.  (The Greens did not have Texas ballot access in some of those years; that is its own convoluted history.  And yes, I realize my math adds up to 101% due to rounding.)

Nothing much has changed over the past couple of decades.  Texas remains a state with about 36% of its population of Latino descent and growing, but fewer than half are voters, a figure considerably lower than Latino turnout by percentage of population even in southwestern states like California and Arizona.  Can't fault just the brown folks, though.  Voter turnout by all demographics in Texas is 49th in a good (read: presidential) year, and in off-years like 2010, you get Republican sweeps in the 60-65% range.

Everybody who's been paying the slightest amount of attention already knows all this.  And there's the problem right there: only about 5% of Texans are paying attention at this point in the cycle, and that number will expand to just 15-20% by November.

As has been repeated elsewhere, Texas is not a Republican state; Texas is a non-voting state.  And Texas Republicans are going to continue doing their dead level best to keep it that way.

So all that Democrats can do is put their shoulders back against the boulder, while the Libertarians have to recapture the Tea Pees whenever it becomes clear that the corporate overlords are not going to let them take over the Republican Party, and the Greens need to get all of their statewide candidates to show up at their state convention, for a start.  Somewhere among all of those not-stupid-and-mean conservatives, combined with just a few of the 75% of Texans who do not ever vote except maybe sometimes, when the White House is on the ballot... there's bound to be 50% plus one (or even a 39% plurality).

I sure I hope I live long enough to see the day that the liberal majority in Texas shows up at the polling place, but I'm increasingly skeptimistic that I will.

Update: No worries, I'm not suicidal.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Austin over the weekend

-- Slow to gather my thoughts on this past weekend's Texas Green Party convention in Austin.  Socratic Gadfly has his take on the most interesting development: whether the Greens should formally cede the governor's race to Wendy Davis in order to avoid catching "Nader 2000" repetitive blame.  (The Nader-traitor myth was debunked by yours truly here, ICYMI.)  My opinion doesn't vary much from what SocFly wrote, but I will expand on the point after today's tax deadline is in my rearview mirror.

Until I can get to that, we saw many beautiful wildflowers on the drive over, we ate some incredible barbecue at Stiles Switch -- that old retro shopping center it occupies was the location of some scenes from one of Matthew McConaughey's lesser films -- and had even more delicious Cuban fare at this SoCo place.  And if you take 290 and hanker for la comida Mexicana, Los Patrones in Giddings esta muy sabroso.

-- Speaking of tastiness, Governor Goodhair might turn into a ham sandwich.

More likely not, but it'll be fun to watch him sweat.

That's all I have time for today.  Much more in the pipeline.

Monday, April 14, 2014

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance honors the legacy of LBJ and the continuing struggle for civil rights as it brings you this week's roundup of the best lefty blog posts from last week.

Off the Kuff looks at the Republican statewide slate and is unimpressed.

Bay Area Houston says the Texas State Troopers Association has issued an Amber Alert for MIA Greg Abbott.

Libby Shaw at Texas Kaos is perplexed over Greg Abbott's disappearing acts. Is he hiding from his white nationalist educational adviser who believes women and minorities are intellectually inferior to men like him? Or is he hiding because he wants standardized testing for four-year-old children? Where is Greg Abbott?

Horwitz at Texpatriate looks at the most recent whip count on Houston's proposed non-discrimination ordinance, and asks "who's lying" on the issue.

Texas Progressive Alliance bloggers Stace Medellin ( and Charles Kuffner ( will be panelists on Politics Done Right on KPFT discussing the delegitimized news media, blogging, and crowdsourcing the news. –

Texas Leftist is glad to see the community organize to strengthen Houston's planned non-discrimination ordinance. But for all the work being done, does it even matter if the mayor refuses to budge?

The Texas Renewal Project, a conclave of evangelical pastors, met in Austin last week and decided that the fires of Hell are just about to consume us all because of gay marriage and non-discrimination ordinances and things like that. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs says that if God is really that homophobic, then he'll take a pass, thanks.

WCNews at Eye on Williamson on Rick Perry's latest corporate scheme. It may not be illegal, but what's going on here is is inherently incompatible with democracy. It just seems wrong that the governor of Texas is allowed to gallivant around the world to do the bidding for corporations, while he continues to deny health care to those who need it.

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows Republicans have a war on women, but why are they so pro-rapist? Tennessee Republicans are blocking the processing of rape kits kits, too.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Lone Star Ma reminds us that April is Child Abuse Prevention Month.

The Lunch Tray laments the trend of giving students junk food "treat bags" during standardized testing periods.

Lone Star Q updates us on failed former Senate candidate and sportscaster Craig James.

Jason Stanford mocks conservative victimhood.

Texas Watch lauds the tort system for its power to hold corporations accountable.

Beer, TX notes that the big beer distributors will be standing fast against any further attempts to level the playing field for craft brewers.

The Rivard Report documents efforts to make San Antonio's Fiesta parade more sustainable.

Offcite notes Houston's first Sunday street closing in the Heights to encourage pedestrian traffic was born in the rain, which did not seem to discourage participation.

Grits for Breakfast wonders who is advising Rick Perry on the issue of prison rape.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Sunday Evening Funnies

 Yes, someone please just get Jeb a set of watercolors and let's skip all the rest-- the wars, the torture, the eavesdropping on everyone...

Sunday Morning Funnies

Which is to say that there are more coming later today.

Cartoon foresaw Asshole Redface Guy a decade ago

Friday, April 11, 2014

How LBJ changed the makeup of the two political parties, and more Friday reading

As the 50th anniversary of the civil rights movement ends its commemoration at the LBJ library in Austin, here's a great take on the conflicting legacies of Lyndon Johnson from the Field Negro.

LBJ was a complex fellow, who no doubt, like the Vice President before this current one, did some shaky things to amass wealth, grab power, and gain influence.

Yet still, as president, he presided over our government's effort to take care of the least among us in America. And it was his signature as president on the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts. He helped to get those bills passed "against all odds" at a time in this country when it was cool to be a bigot.

"Historian Alan Brinkley has suggested that the most important domestic achievement of the Great Society may have been its success in translating some of the demands of the civil rights movement into law."

This is true. And, to his credit, he knew that the passing of The Civil Rights Act would cause the Democratic Party to lose the Southern white vote forever. And it did.

BTW, if it is true that he actually made this statement: "I'll have those niggers voting Democratic for the next 200 years" (which I honestly think is a wingnut version of an urban legend), it actually worked. Because when white Southerners left and joined the Republican party, black folks knew where they weren't wanted. Equal rights for all was something that should have been easy to embrace, but it wasn't simply because of the history of racism in this country. Now the two political parties reflect the racial divide that still exists. 

Read the rest.

-- I'm amused that conservatives are reacting badly to the news that Stephen Colbert will take over The Late Show from David Letterman next year.

While many people responded to the news with pleasure and excitement, right-wing talk-radio king Rush Limbaugh was quick to offer his two cents, saying that Colbert’s hiring was a declaration of war on the American “heartland” by CBS.

And as a perusal of the right-wing Twitter community shows, Limbaugh was hardly the only conservative to greet Colbert’s promotion with anger and dismay. Indeed, the sentiment on the right in response to the news can be summarized like so: Stephen Colbert’s being chosen to succeed David Letterman shows that liberal media bias is real. And, also too, Colbert’s not funny, anyway.

Still not getting the joke.  Still the butt of the joke.  Don't you ever change, cons.

-- Kathleen Sebelius, stepping down as HHS secretary, did manage to accomplish some things in her tenure. Putting up with the daily Republican bullshit for the past five years is a star in a crown all by itself.

In the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision invalidating Obamacare’s compulsory Medicaid expansion, most Republican-controlled states refused to extend health care coverage to residents below 133 percent of the poverty line. But Sebelius traveled the country, urging Republican governors to reconsider. As of today, eight GOP-controlled states have approved expansion — in no small part because of the flexibility Sebelius and her team provided.

To convince political opponents like Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R) or Arkansas’ Republican-controlled legislature to adopt one of Obamacare’s most significant coverage provisions, HHS approved alternative proposals that allowed states to use federal funding to cover their low-income uninsured populations with private insurance. Similarly, Sebelius permitted Oklahoma to continue using federal Medicaid dollars to subsidize private health insurance for low-income workers and extended to Indiana a one-year extension of its pilot Medicaid program, which provides coverage for low-income residents. Michigan’s Republican Gov. Rick Snyder also signed a Medicaid expansion bill into law after receiving a federal waiver for cost-sharing provisions for Medicaid beneficiaries from the federal government.

The flexibility extended beyond Medicaid. Sebelius and her team convinced red states to form partnership health care exchanges in which the federal government and the state would share responsibilities in running the marketplaces. They routinely presented GOP governors with information on all other state models and waivers, assuring them that they could customize reform to their specific state needs. As a result, several Republican-dominated states bucked the national party and chose to run their exchanges either on their own, or in collaboration with HHS.

The solutions became politically tenable to Republican lawmakers because they could claim that they were covering their residents on their own terms, using unique state-tailored solutions that rejected the “one-size-fits all” prescription of Obamacare. Sebelius’ policy flexibility provided conservatives with enough political cover to implement key parts of the law.

She worked her ass off.  Hats off.

-- With all the feuding among the members of KISS leading up to last night's Rock and Roll Hall of Fame induction, the reunion itself was pleasant, even kind.

But absent the performances even in tribute to the masked/unmasked rockers, it was Nirvana that stole the show.

Almost exactly 20 years has passed since Nirvana singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain took his life, and Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic and drummer Dave Grohl (now the frontman for the Foo Fighters) haven't played Cobain's songs together in all that time.


The band was introduced by (R.E.M.'s Michael) Stipe, who delivered an eloquent speech that addressed the power and historical importance of the band as part of a counterculture that somehow became mainstream. "Nirvana tapped into a voice that was yearning to be heard," he said. "In the '80s and early '90s, the idea of a hopeful, democratic country had practically been dismantled by Iran Contra, by AIDS, by the Reagan, Bush Sr. administrations. With their music and their attitudes, Nirvana blasted through all that with crystalline, nuclear rage and fury. Nirvana were kicking against the system to show a sweet and beautiful, but fed-up fury coupled with howling vulnerability. They spoke truth, and a lot of people listened. They were singular and loud and melodic and deeply original. And that voice… That voice. Kurt, we miss you."

Peter Gabriel, Linda Ronstadt, the E Street Band, Cat Stevens, and Hall & Oates went into the HoF also.  The (hopefully edited) five-hour ceremony will air on HBO on May 31.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Greg Abbott showing up on milk cartons, but nowhere else

Thanks to John Coby for that. And the Lone Star Project for this.

Why is Greg Abbott avoiding the media and canceling appearances?

Every campaign has occasional scheduling problems. Sometimes events or appearances have to be cancelled for a variety of legitimate reasons.

But over the last several weeks, Greg Abbott has cancelled a number of events and has rarely taken press questions at the events he does attend. Clearly something is going on inside the Abbott campaign that’s affecting his willingness to appear in public or personally answer questions from the press.

-- Abbott has refused to meet with editorial boards both during and since the Texas primary.

-- Abbott spent more than three weeks (March 6 – 29) without any public events.
During this period (March 9 – 24) he refused to personally answer any questions on equal pay, even questions regarding salaries within his own AG office.

-- Abbott canceled an April 4th scheduled and publicized address to the Texas Renewal Project, an organization of Christian pastors (I posted about this conference here).

-- Abbott declined an April 5th opportunity to address the Texas AP Managing Editors Association in Padre Island.

-- Abbott’s campaign scheduled an April 7th press conference and Abbott simply failed to appear, not even bothering to send the press a cancellation notice.

It would be easy to imply, and reasonable to assume, that Abbott's campaign is wilting under pressure – especially the ongoing bad press over his bungling of the equal pay issue and his disastrous education policy rollout.

If it is something else – campaign personnel changes, pressing official business or a family issue – then Abbott needs to be forthright and explain in some detail.

If something is seriously wrong, Greg Abbott should say so, and everyone will know what to expect going forward. 

Greg Abbott is running a Steve Stockman-styled campaign at this point.  And we all know how well that turned out for Stockman.  Abbott came out of his self-imposed lockdown long enough to challenge Wendy Davis to appear in Austin today at the Civil Rights Summit with Obama.  She's going to be there.

So where is Greg Abbott hiding?  And more importantly... why is he hiding?  I mean, we all know what he is hiding (his association with undesirable supporters and the poor judgment it reflects).  But why is he afraid to be asked about it?  Why won't he stand up for what he believes?

Oops, sorry. That was insensitive.