Thursday, February 17, 2011


DI: I understand you’ve got your panties in a bunch- presumably the ones you always used to wear on the outside of your tights.

B: Funny. A just released Public Policy Polling survey gives the chilling impression that 51% of likely Republican primary voters believe Obama is not a citizen. There’s a lot of qualifiers, there, but basically it means the party faithful, who are more likely to vote in a primary, believe in a bare majority that he is not legally President.

And that’s astonishing. I have trouble wrapping my head around the concept, frankly. His birth certificate is on record in Hawaii. The short-form version, which is a legal document, has been released, and the long-form has been seen by the relevant officials in the state. There are two contemporary birth announcements in Hawaiian papers. As a legal matter, Obama is a citizen. The case couldn’t be clearer.

I mean, if you want to believe that Obama was secretly born in Kenya, or in a KGB test tube, that’s up to the individual, but I don’t really understand what kind of a purpose it might serve.

I want to be careful how I put this, because I’m not playing the race card, here, I’m saying that believing that someone with different ideas than you must not be a true American, that they must be the metaphorical “other,” dances very close upon the brink of racism. The same fundamental ideas are at play, there. And it’s dangerous. I worry for my country, and my countrymen.

Because there aren’t facts in dispute; I welcome facts. But these are shadowy, whispered, McCarthyesque aspersions cast casually, as if treason should become a part of one’s daily vocabulary. It’s depressing enough when people misuse and abuse words like fascism and Nazism, and even socialism, but this takes it to another level.

And I think, I believe, that this is a case where the sane elements, in the party and the country, aren’t doing enough. It’s that old adage, that the only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. And it concerns me that this rancor, this distrust, of our fellow citizens has become so prevalent. And it’s up to all of us to stand up to ignorance, and fear, where we find it. I think in part we’re seeing a failure of the Republican party to do that, and while ideologically they may not be my brethren, at the end of debate, we’re all still Americans. We share this country. It is not us or them. It’s we the people.

DI: Are you sufficiently unbunched?

B: I feel a little better.

DI: Since you brought up the subject of birth, I’d like to talk to you about yours.

B: It was messy.

DI: Succinct. I like it. We can call it a day. I think we might still make happy hour at Scores…. kidding. No, I want to talk about how your birth placed you in society.

B: It’s funny you should use the word “society,” because that’s where my birth put me. My parents were frequently in the society pages of the paper. They bumped elbows at society parties and functions. It’s a different world.

I’ve fostered some children who came up in poorer circumstances since then, and the contrast is really night and day. My servants had more education than their parents. And that’s no knock to anyone at all, just insight into that discrepancy.

Not that I remember much of it. I remember flashes, like my mom putting me into a miniature tuxedo, and her leaning over me to tie my bowtie. I remember being bored, and kicking around a dance floor holding her hand, waiting while dad pressed flesh, trying to get more donors for whatever charity he was organizing for. I think we arrived by carriage, once.

And eventually, Alfred retaught me the things I’d been too young to learn about that life. He trained me to be a man in my father’s mold. For better or worse, my birthright came with that responsibility, one my parents shepherded well during their lives.

DI: But what about Batman? Was he a part of your birthright?

B: I think I was lucky in other regards. My parents gave me an exceptional genetic baseline, and with all humility I was born with physical prowess and mental acuity a lot of people aren’t privy to. And that, along with my fortune, did open doors, some of which led to Batman. But there was years of training and focus that I wouldn’t have had, at least not in that direction, had circumstance not intervened- in the death of my parents. So I wouldn’t call it a birthright.

Clark had a birthright, one I think he exceeded. Diana was born a princess, but I think her actions since have made her who she is, and more than who she started as. My birthright was an empire. And I’ve used that to do a lot of what I hope was good. Employed a lot of people. Impacted quite a few lives. I still have a very old world view of corporations, that they’re a trust, between the private sector and the public, to do right and do good by them. At least, that’s how I run my companies.

DI: I did notice one thing, which interested me, about the PPP polling. Those who think Obama is or at least might be a citizen prefer Romney for President. But like most high-profile members of his party, he’s sort of infamously tip-toed around the whole birtherism concept. And I saw a wonderfully demented question in TNR about that: “is a sane person who feigns madness because he wants to live in an asylum crazy or is he sane?”

B: I think that’s more a logic puzzle, than anything. I think, for Romney, just acknowledging the reality as outlined by that poll, he’s stuck in the madhouse. And in that case your options are to act like a guard and try to restore order, or to act like a crazy person and rule in hell, so to speak. And while I’m not sure it’s a fair comparison, between Arkham and the Republican party, but a lot of guards have fallen trying to restore order in Arkham; self-preservation might be the sane choice, after all.

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