Posted by: Lauren--NY | June 10, 2009

The Day I Named My Teddy Bear George E. Pataki

As you may be able to immediately ascertain from the title of this blog entry, I was not a normal child.

It’s a bit of an understatement to say that my family is interested in politics. We’re obsessed, particularly my mother and me—although the rest of the family certainly has more than a passing interest. I remember being riveted on election night as a child, and during the campaigns…oh, the campaigns. The power, the energy, the inanely unnatural finger-pointing, the bob and weave, the intensity of the press corps, the sex scandals surrounding the most highly repressed WASPs of our nation. I loved it all.

My dad spent some time working for a local politician in Westchester, New York when Nelson Rockefeller was Governor in the early 1970s—about ten years before all members of the Republican Party who didn’t mind being labeled “liberals” went the way of Jimmy Hoffa. My mom campaigned in her home state of Delaware for Joe Biden during his first run for the Senate in 1972. After earning her degree in political science from the University of Delaware, she instilled her love of politics in me at an early age. Born in September of 1986, I grew up with children who enjoyed bedtime stories from the likes of Eric Carle, Washington Irving, Dr. Seuss and Beatrix Potter. While I enjoyed their work and respected their niches in literary history, I truly delighted in the words of Thomas Paine, Woodward & Bernstein, and Henry Kissinger (thanks, Mom!).

Please don’t read any of this as narcissism. I was no prodigy; I was just strange.

Those were heady days. While I have surprisingly clear memories of the presidential race between incumbent George H.W. Bush and newcomer Bill Clinton in 1992 (I was five for most of the campaign), the gubernatorial race between incumbent Mario Cuomo and State Senator George E. Pataki in 1994 solidified my political interests. I was eight. I hated Pataki. I spit his middle initial like a dagger. He would ruin the state of New York, of this I was sure. I was glued to that campaign every day after school. Election night arrived—November 6th, 1994. Dan Rather spoke directly into my tiny soul. The tallies were still too close to call when I was made to go to bed, and the next morning, with a look on her face as though a loved one had died, my mother poked her head through my bedroom door. “Pataki won,” she said sadly. I angrily picked up my brown teddy bear with the red ribbon tied in a bow around his neck (then cleverly named “Teddy”), threw him against the wall, and stomped off to school. Yes, this really happened.

As the years went by, I grew to like Governor Pataki. He proved himself to be a real moderate, doing outstanding work as a conservationist and creating Family Health Plus, health care for low-income adults. By the sixth grade, the environmentalism was enough for me to change my tune, and to extend the olive branch, Teddy was rechristened George E. Pataki, and he remains so to this day.

I remain a pretty staunch left-winger, though I will occasionally surprise you. I was a very enthusiastic Obama supporter (although for reasons mostly pertaining to health care I supported John Edwards during the primaries). I think we Democratic voters (I’m technically unaffiliated) are doing pretty well right now, and even 2016 is looking pretty good. My suggestion? Rahm Emanuel/Hillary Clinton.

I know, I know. But that’s because you haven’t heard the campaign slogan yet.

“Emanuel/Clinton 2016—because after 16 years of this crowd, it might actually be enough to finally boil down Ann Coulter into her natural state—Botox, Kryptonite and George W. Bush’s old draft notices. Vote for us!”

[Cue Rahm flashing a thumbs-up and punching out the camera lens]

It’s gonna be a thing, folks.

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