Not long after I wrote "The Three-Martini Playdate" , I was reviewed in "The Weekly Standard,” which I soon discovered to be a scathingly right-wing neo-conservative rag, a publication with which I vociferously disagreed in all matters. They gave my book an excellent review: A long, beautifully written, absolutely glowing review.
I was torn, being a nice liberal girl. A girl who thinks Robert Reich is dreamy. A girl who keeps The Progressive, The American Prospect, and Mother Jones in the bathrooms. I was glad of the review, but too embarrassed to spread the good news.
Soon after that, I was asked to talk about my book on a Fox News show called “Day Side with Linda Vestor.” a show where they generally did a lot of talking about how well things are going in Iraq, and how personable George Bush is, and what a hard job he has. Fox News, I thought, why would Fox News want me to talk about my book? But I went on, being the media whore that I needed to be in order to sell some books.
I was introduced as “Rebel Mom.” And it was actually fun being all quippy and opinionated in front of what was apparently a live audience on the opposite coast. But between trying to hear Linda Vestor’s voice in my tiny earpiece and trying ignore the sound of my own voice echoing back into my ear on a three-second delay, I wasn’t able to shout out to the studio audience “Wake Up America! Your Government is lying to you! We are living in a Fascist State!” before being dragged off to the pokey, thus garnering untold amounts of publicity for my book.
Plus, I didn’t really think of doing that until later. Plus, I didn’t really think of it at all, my husband actually suggested that it might have been really great if I’d done it. But it was then that I realized the message the arch-neo-conservatives were getting from my book: LIBERAL parents don’t know how to say no to their children, it’s the LIBERAL lefties who grew up in the free-lovin’ ‘60’s who don’t know how to control their offspring.
Then, I received a call from the Daily Telegraph, a frighteningly conservative pro-war publication out of Britain. Some nice chap wanted me to talk about my book as part of an article he was writing on the subject of parenting.
The neo-cons were trying to appropriate my message as surely as they had appropriated God and the Flag. I sensed a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy that was aiming to make me, a nice lefty yellow-dog California Liberal Democrat, a Tool of the Right.
I never had looked at parenting in terms of red and blue states. My books merely suggest that parents, whether liberal progressive or to the right of Jerry Falwell, should not make their children the center of the Universe. All parents need to learn how to say no to their children, or their children will grow up to be ill-mannered, demanding, and self-centered; Get a life, or risk ending up one of those horrible grown-ups who can’t talk about anything except how adorable their ill-mannered, demanding, self-centered children are.
So here’s the deal. I need all you proud liberals out there to continue to buy my book, in droves. And teach your kids some damn manners, while you’re at it, so the neo-cons can’t co-opt my message. Because I do think it’s possible to be a politically progressive liberal atheist, and still teach your children ethics, morality, honesty, and how to behave in a restaurant. You can be a parent who believes in tolerance, social justice and marching for peace, and yet still enjoy a nice, chilled martini at five o’clock. Were Nick and Nora Charles Republicans? I hate to think so.