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by editor I forgot my name

First off, I'm sorry that this issue is so late. The Special Report grew to a small book in size…actually, I probably COULD write a book on the subject, but I had to get this issue out. I also had several big pieces to write, like this column on a subject that's important to me. Add to that things like my wife being home sick…and it just got to be terribly delayed. What's sad is that most everyone on the Fanzing staff turned in their stuff ON TIME if not EARLY! Next issue is going to be very small, so that we can catch up.

The results of last month's Quizlet.

Q: Who is the best new villain of the last 10 years?
(of 817 respondents)

24% Parallax
18% Neron
3% Monarch
16% The Ventriloquist
29% Prometheus
9% Mr. Zsasz

And now, a little something different this month. I usually save letters for the lettercolumn, but this one deserves a bit more of a response. I recently received this e-mail:

I generally enjoy your publication. However I have become increasingly distressed by your frequent insertion of you political beliefs into the articles and editorials that you write. You opinion that Pres. Clinton should be removed from office may be heartfelt, but it has nothing to do with comics. I read comics to get away from that kind of crap, not have it shoved in my face. Additionally a large number of people do not agree with your beliefs and you run the risk of alienating them, thus damaging Fanzing. If you want to start a website dedicated to your political beliefs, go right ahead. I defend your right to your opinion, no matter how wrong it is.

Nick Jenny

Hmmm….this is a tough one to respond to. Any kind of meaty, thought out response is going to be provocative, so it's tempting to just say, "Sorry, dude, it won't happen again." Additionally, if I discuss politics at all in response to a letter about how Nick doesn't like to read about politics, he's not going to read it or he'll read it and get steamed. So how do I respond?

First of all, before anyone hits the "Next" button because they don't like politics, let me say one thing: EVERYONE should be into politics. It's the negligence of those who consider politics "crap" that is responsible for every bad candidate who gets elected. It's the ignorance of political issues that has allowed the media to decide what we'll consider important, because not enough Americans care about how this country is run to speak out when a major event is ignored by the mainstream press. And if you DO consider politics "crap"…for God's sake, don't vote. I'd rather have the direction of our nation, states and cities decided by 100 informed people than by 100,000,000 couch potatoes flipping a coin because they felt obligated to vote or choosing the candidate whose name they've heard the most.

NOW…for all of you unmoved by that who STILL want to turn the page, don't let me stand in your way. And to those of you who ARE interested in politics but who may never visit Fanzing again if you read an opinion you don't like…I apologize for even getting into this topic. Our primary purpose is to talk comic books, and I don't want my little editorial domain to ruin anyone's enjoyment. I'm trying to be fair to everyone…but that includes myself, and I have the right to talk about what I want to talk about in my column. Heh heh heh.

Are they gone? Okay…

Well, Nick's letter is reserved enough in comparison to many other political e-mails I've read over the years, so I should thank him for that. At the same time, he does try to be a bit provocative, calling politics crap and my ideas wrong. I'll ignore that in my response. And I like his echo of Voltaire in the last line. Voltaire is alleged to have once said, "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it." *

Let's first tackle the specific citation: my joke about Clinton in the Superman movies article. Well, the most proper defense is that it was just a joke! I gave myself a set-up line that prompted it and I just couldn't resist. And, given that it's not an attack on Democrats and liberals…a large number of whom are embarrassed and angry at the guy, too…I felt safe in making it. I did consider this before I made the decision to leave the joke in.

Being against Clinton is more about the nature of the presidency and the character of the man who inhabits it and less about the party which Clinton swears allegiance to. Actually, Clinton has governed as a moderate conservative…not by nature, but because he's lead by polls which show that the majority of Americans are not as liberal as he thought.

You see, saying something about how awful Clinton is as a person and a President is not necessarily the same as being against his politics. Clinton is a liar, a cheat, a manipulator, a power monger, an abuser of women, an abuser of his office, an abuser of his power, a two-faced, conniving backstabber who has ruined lives and even taken lives (but they're not Americans, so we're not supposed to care) all for his own personal gain. What has that got to do with being a Republican or Democrat? In fact, how can anyone support such a person, no matter where he stands on abortion or gun control or gays in the military or whatever your pet issue is?

My wanting Clinton to step down is not about partisan politics. If it were, I'd be happy with the status quo, for Gore is suffering terribly from his ties to Clinton and things are looking good for his opponents in the next election. Had Clinton stepped down, Al Gore would have probably governed slightly more liberally (unlike Clinton, he actually believes in many left-wing ideals) and he would have gained two years in which we could gauge his skills as a president. Gore's had his scandals, but he's far more of a decent person than Clinton will ever be, so he may have gotten to the 2000 campaign having established that he is presidential material. Were I simply a partisan (i.e. wanting the Republicans to gain from the scandal), why would I want that?

Indeed, this is a question that should have been posed to all the commentators stating that the Republican Congress was just doing the impeachment for their own benefit. "RUBBISH!" I say. Any amoral political strategist would have argued to leave Clinton in, disgraced and shamed, while the G.O.P. rides the tide to widespread success in the 1998 and 2000 elections. There were, no doubt, some who were acting partisan on the side of the G.O.P., but it's obvious that most voted on principle even when the polls said doing so would be bad for them. For true partisans, one must look to those amongst the Democrats who openly stated that Clinton broke then law and then voted against removal from office anyway. But I've digressed into rehashing an argument that the nation had for all of last year. Sorry.

What I'm trying to do is explain why I felt it okay to include a political joke. Frankly, I knew that the number of people offended by it would be small. A recent gallup poll found that, of the last five elected presidents, Clinton ranked far behind Reagan and Bush when asked how the president would be viewed by history. Clinton's results were a little better than Carter's (who was riding a terrible economy) and I'd say much better than Nixon's (who resigned because of the Watergate scandal). The opinions for Clinton fall into a three-way split. So, even if I assumed that these numbers were constant amongst Fanzing readers (and given our large foreign readership and anecdotal evidence, I don't think they are), only 33% of the readers would disagree….and common sense tells me that, amongst those who disagree, only a small portion of them would be annoyed.

Before you write in, I should say something else about Clinton and impeachment…something that may surprise you. While I think Clinton committed crimes warranting impeachment…in hindsight, I wish this Lewinsky mess never happened. Mainly because Clinton has done things FAR worse and the press is ignoring them because of "scandal fatigue." The China Scandal, in which most of our nuclear secrets have fallen into the hands of Communist China (which supplies arms to a good number of rogue nations as well) during Clinton's Administration** , has gotten very little press coverage. The Clinton White House allowed this to happen either through gross negligence or deliberately, as allegations of massive Chinese contributions to the Democratic National Committee for Clinton's 1996 election are also being investigated. Here is a situation in which Clinton's Presidency of Self-Interest has altered the very future of every person on Earth…which is weightier than lying under oath, as punishable as that should be…and yet it's been brushed under the rug because the American people are tired of hearing about Clinton all the time. "Do we really want to watch ANOTHER impeachment go on and on and on while we're trying to choke down our tater tots? He's only got a year and a half in office anyway, so who cares?"

"What's on Friends tonight? Is it the one where Phoebe finds out about Chandler and Monica?"

Sorry to rant. I do love talking politics, though. It's a side of me I don't often share, because, as Nick said, it's not the reason for Fanzing. Just as Tony Isabella's left-wing rantings drove me from reading his otherwise-fine "Tony's Tips", I'd be annoying a lot of people if I constantly talked politics month-in and month-out.

I would have to challenge Nick's assertion about my "frequent insertion of you [sic] political beliefs", though. What exactly is meant by "frequent"? If you mean talking Bill Clinton, I think that's limited to the joke in the Superman article and my fiction story "Air Force Two" in which current events played a major part. Perhaps I've made a remark I don't remember, but even then that would be only three or four instances. Aside from Clinton, I remember remarking about Newt's being cleared of charges a while back and how the story went unreported by the media, but I was talking more about the media than about Newt. Should I avoid all topics that have a political basis or are associated with politics?

This is why I couldn't just promise to not put politics in Fanzing. Even if I vowed to keep them out of my "Thoughts" column and leave the Clinton jokes out, that would be a hard promise to keep. Just last month I asked John Ostrander about his gun control stance; that's a political issue, but he brought it up and I felt I had to challenge his statements. If someone wanted to do a political fiction story, akin to the old Green Lantern/Green Arrow tales, they'd be welcome. They wouldn't even have to put up a lot of disclaimers and explain their reasoning, the way I did for "Air Force Two". Politics and religion are touchy issues, but, IF they're handled in a non-zealotlike fashion, they should have their place in our magazine.

Another question: if I can't talk politics, does that mean I can't talk about ANYTHING involving my opinions? I recently talked about my appreciation for "Amos N Andy" videos and how I strongly felt they merited a re-evaluation by those who consider them racist. A challenging notion, to be sure. But is that verboten in a "politics-free" magazine?

Finally, regarding one other part of the above e-mail, I DO have a politically-oriented web site. But it's not really any kind of substantive, issues-driven magazine where I speak my mind. It's the "Democrat Quiz", a humor page I made up one afternoon when I'd listened to a few too many Democrats. It's dated, believe me. I haven't updated it for the Impeachment or the China Scandal, because those were far too serious…thus, it goes back to a time when enough people still believed in Bill Clinton and all he stood for.

I'd be interested to know your thoughts. Feel free to weigh in, one way or the other, in our Fanzing Forum. I created a room called "Off-Topic Blather" in which anyone is free to talk about anything as long as they do so in a civilized manner.

After reading through this page, I'm sure that you'd be surprised to know that I'm not one to shove my politics in people's faces! I won't hide, but I won't intrude on others, either. After all, I'm a Republican in Minnesota, the state so left-wing that most people here actually think Minnesota Public Radio is unbiased! I'm definitely in the minority, and the liberals here are so vociferous that most Republicans are in the closet. At my last job, when I was discussing the Monica Lewinsky matter, my boss realized I was a Republican and quickly dropped her voice to a whisper to welcome me with the gratitude of an ancient Christian making the fish symbol in the dirt with her feet. From then on, we'd talk about how embarrassing the Clinton scandal was…but only with her door shut. Meanwhile, the lunchroom would be filled with Democrats loudly talking the issues of the day with the unquestioned certainty that no one around would be a Republican.

It's not as though I can't talk politely and candidly about politics with those who believe otherwise. My best friends are Democrats. I even have friends who would vote for Clinton again, and they're still my friends. You heard me right. What's funny is that I never raise politics when talking to them, yet they think nothing of saying horrible things about Ronald Reagan in my presence. When I finally point out how unfair they're being, they teasingly talk down to me as though I'll someday learn the errors of my ways and become a Democrat. (Let me get this straight…I recognized Bill Clinton right off as a liar, a womanizer and a political opportunist, and I'm the one who needs to re-think my position? Not likely!)

One thing I've noted about these debates: I NEVER dispute their intelligence. I think liberals often have their hearts in the right place but won't listen to contrary opinions or look at data proving otherwise; most often this is the fault of an upbringing which treats Republicans like inferiors. To be fair, would you consider the opinions of people who you've been indoctrinated to believe are just Nazis and Klansmen who've made a different clothing choice? So I'll challenge opinions and attitudes, but I'll never question their intelligence. What's funny is how quick they are to challenge mine! I don't know why, but this is a basic discourtesy that I've seen time and again, and it's the reason I tend to avoid political debate. You can't make any headway with people who've already written you off as stupid.

So, yes, I have gotten bolder. When I first started Fanzing, I was afraid that people might learn I'm a Republican. After all, there really are a LOT of people who see absolutely no difference between a mainstream Republican and a Nazi! (Ever watch Jon Stewart on The Daily Show? I'd just love to see him mention a Republican JUST ONCE without making a reference to swastikas or Berlin and thinking he's being brilliantly funny.) But I decided to "come out of the closet" because I finally realized that suffering in silence is what allows Democrats to think that everyone is on their side.

I've found that there are a great many conservatives who are afraid of being found out. Once I started admitting that I'm a Republican (if the situation somehow came up), I was surprised to find that there are a large number of people who are right-wing but just don't want it known for fear of being marked as a gun-toting, clinic-bombing, racist, homophobic, planet-despoiling, rich-coddling militia member. But it's the normal, rational conservatives hiding in plain sight who allow that stereotype to persist, and that's why I won't hide anymore.

Vote for Hutchison! I'm going to tell you something that, up until now, I have only told my wife, Melinda. I wish I could run for office. It's bothered me that the candidates for my party don't say the things I'd say in their place and don't campaign the way I wish they'd campaign. Besides, I've got about the cleanest past a person can have without being officially a member of the Osmonds. I've considered running for office, but I just don't have the looks for it. I've got a classic case of Abraham Lincoln Face.

So that's who I am. It's only a part of who I am. I say that because you shouldn't think of me as "Republican Michael Hutchison". (In case you don't get the joke: The Media rarely labels anyone a liberal or a Democrat but they're always sure to tag a conservative, sometimes within the same sentence. It's not uncommon to see a sentence like "Senator Ted Kennedy and far right conservative Republican Bob Dole". Just read the Media Watch column if you don't believe me!) I'm a guy with thoughts and beliefs just like you, and on many issues you can't assume where I stand.

Since this has turned into an all-politics episode of "Thoughts at 3:00 AM", let me sound off on one more thing. You may find this funny. I AM trying to keep a light-hearted mood here.

Have you read George Stephanopoulis' new, controversial book, "All Too Human", which tells a lot of secrets from inside the Clinton White House? George got lambasted by Democrats and the media (and in my opinion, that's redundant) for being a tattletale. He got lambasted by Republicans (although with certainly little exposure for this viewpoint) for knowing the truth about all the lies and corruption but only revealing it later when it could get him millions of dollars but do little good for the country. So I decided to read it and see what it's all about.

Only one problem: I can't get past the first few pages. Why? Because I don't suffer fools. And George has got to be the biggest fool of the decade! He actually believed Clinton was a decent guy! How stupid is THAT!?? (Yes, I'm classifying him as stupid, but not for his politics. I have my reasons. Read on.)

When I was 22 years old and watching Clinton in the debates…and this was without the help of Rush Limbaugh or Matt Drudge or any other of the usual suspects…I could pick up on the obvious cues that the guy was a massive liar who would say anything his audience wanted to hear. Even people who voted for him knew he was scum, because he was the kind of scum who could use his powers of scumminess to their advantage. It's mercenary, but true.

Of course, I realize that there IS a sizeable portion of the American people who are terribly politically naive and will buy anything, whether it's Elvis Is Alive or UFOs Exist or Bill Clinton Really Cares About You. These are the people that Bill Clinton influences, even when he unconvincingly tells the most bald-faced lie. You can find enough people to believe anything. Yet, had you asked me about George Stephanopoulis, I'd have thought he was just another member of the Clinton Administration knowingly telling bald-faced lies to the American People. But no! George believed everything Bill said!

Bill Clinton doesn't believe in anything but himself. When he was studying political science in college, his professor preached that there are no ideological or philosophical differences between the two parties; they are merely tools for acquiring power. A ridiculous philosophy, to be sure, but universities have always been havens for oddball professors. And Bill Clinton was his star pupil, whose life has shown that he certainly took this to heart. His friends knew he believed this. His enemies knew he believed this. But George Stephanopoulis really saw Bill Clinton as a liberal idealogue.

My point is this: Why is George being paid millions to be a commentator and reporter when he obviously couldn't analyze his way out of a square room with the door open?

One thing I WILL NOT do in Fanzing, lest you worry that my column will become all-politics, all-the-time, is start preaching my stance on various real political issues. I'll discuss them in the forum if someone else asks, but I'm not going to shout my beliefs on guns, abortion, education, drugs, who to vote for, the separation of church and state, etc. That's just plain rude.

Barring any outrageous new activities on Bill Clinton's part…wait, that's almost a certainty, so let me just say this: I will try my best not to mention him again. At this point (Clinton being both a lame duck and impeachment-proof due to scandal fatigue), we're just stuck with Clinton. I wish he was out of office, but at this phase of the game he could kill someone on TV tomorrow and still serve out his term. Most of all, I wish he'd at least spend the last year of office focusing on being a good president of Our United States, but even now he's using his office to pardon terrorists and have NY Yankees photo-ops all for the political benefit of his wife, so we know he'll never change.

Before we go, I need to make something very clear: I don't wish Bill Clinton any harm. I wish him a long life; he should have several decades left, if he goes easy on the McDonalds food. I hope his family stays together. I hope that poor Chelsea is able to emerge from this with some kind of normal life. I hope Bill has a good life, full of friends and love and support.

Because I can't imagine it's going to be fun in hell.

That's all. Next month, we'll be back to movies I've seen, apolitical current events and what my new job is like, I swear. Again, if anyone wishes to take issue with what I've said, feel free to post intelligent, reasoned messages in the "Off-Topic Blather" portion of our Forum.

* Actually, that's the common paraphrase of Voltaire. The exact quote is: "Monsieur l'Abb, I detest what you write, but I would give my life to make it possible for you to continue to write." Whether you memorize the paraphrase or the original quote…it is a DAMN fine inspirational quote! It is never far from my mind when talking politics; let us never get so angry under the collar that we challenge our opponent's right to his opinion.

** Spying DID occur during previous administrations as well. The press has jumped on the bandwagon of saying that "this spying has gone on for two decades" in order to try to cast equal blame on Reagan and Bush, but it's hardly the same. First, MOST of the arsenal was swiped in the last 6 years, so it's hardly equal. Secondly, the Clinton Administration greatly weakened security measures, ignored warnings and ignored reports of spying. Thus, it's correct to say that most of it happened during (and because of) the Clinton Administration.

All opinions expressed are those of Michael Hutchison and not those of Fanzing Magazine, its staff or its contributors. MOST assuredly, they are not those of DC COMICS!!!

This column is © 1999 Michael Hutchison.