Is the cliche true?

When politicians drop out of a race to “put their family first,” this always seems like a way to avoid addressing whatever the real issue is for their political decision.  In the case of Mark Warner's decision to not pursue the Democratic nomination, I think he may actually telling the truth.  It's kind of a shame.  The truth is, it is pretty much impossible to get the type of person who actually puts their family first into the Oval Office.  As Walter Shapiro nicely put it in Salon:

But the former Virginia governor's expressed reluctance to give up
pleasures like college tours with his three daughters serves as a
reminder that only monomaniacal candidates are ever elected president
— a chilling reality in the age of nuclear weapons.

So, I guess it would be nice not to have a monomaniac, but only a monomaniac would be running to run the gauntlet required to win the presidency.  Here's what Peter Baker had to say in a chat today:

I can't imagine why anyone would want to be
president. Even in the best of times, your life is no longer your own,
everything you do, say or even grunt is examined for sinister meaning,
you're invariably accused of some terrible crime, whether you've done
it or not, your family is held up to enormous scrutiny, every little
lie you ever told, every utility bill you were late paying, all of it
is laid out there for all to see. And in particular at this moment,
would you want to be the president to inherit Iraq? Having said all
that, for a certain breed of people, the hum of “Hail to the Chief” is
just an irresistable lure.

Slate's John Dickerson makes it sound even less enticing:

if Warner, who has three teenage daughters, had stayed in the race, he
would have been signing up for at least 15 more months of dialing into
his other life from minivans and hotels with dodgy bedspreads and
mystery odors. Running for office is a brutal, dehumanizing slog.
Warner was coined the “anti-Hillary” on the cover of the New York Times Magazine,
which is pretty heady, but being the anti- means you don't get her
fancy trappings?the entourage, big donors, and fancy homes to stay in.
You have to suck up to money-raisers, keep talking to the 45 people in
a living room, pretending you don't mind the deaf guy in the back who
doesn't realize everyone can hear his wisecracks. When I was with
Warner, he had to listen patiently to a drunken guy who had come over
from the bar next door to hang on the governor and breathe out his
theories about the Iraq war. What should surprise us all is that anyone
stays in.

To me, then, the fact that Mark Warner is unwilling to face this in order to pursue the presidency suggests that he's really the type of person I'd like to see become president.

Just what are those hyenas, penguins, and chimpanzees doing anyway?

Yes, even more on interesting animal sexual behavior this week.  Just this morning, David and I watched “Eternal Enemies” a great National Geographic Special about Lions and Hyenas.  You may recall an earlier post about the infamous pseudophallus of the female hyena.  Well, in this special the viewer actually gets to see all sorts of hyena cubs practicing “mounting behavior” and of course there's no way to tell which are male and female.  Then today, I'm reading on-line and discover there is a museum exhibit in Norway that chronicles homosexual behavior in the animal world.

The birds and the bees may be gay,
according to the world's first museum exhibition about
homosexuality among animals.

With documentation of gay or lesbian behavior among
giraffes, penguins, parrots, beetles, whales and dozens of
other creatures, the Oslo Natural History Museum concludes
human homosexuality cannot be viewed as “unnatural.”

I particularly enjoyed William Saletan's take over at

Exhibit organizers' view: “Homosexuality is found throughout the animal
kingdom, it is not against nature.” Right-wing Christian view: The
organizers should “burn in hell.” Cynical view: Maybe homophobia is
natural, too.

So, I guess the remaining question is how do animals treat their conspecifics that engage in homosexual interactions.  My guess is better than humans do. 

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