After years of writing about politics, I have come face to face — or is it whisker to whisker? — with one of the most critical tests of my career.
Want early access to
Subscribe to get an
exclusive first look at
his columns twice a week.
Although it is my job to write about politics, I have certain standards, and one of those standards is to nearly always avoid the use of the sordid F-word, by which I mean, of course, “furries.”
Many of you, I suspect, don’t know what a furry is. But even if you do, you probably can’t imagine how it could possibly fit into a political column.
The only reason I mention it is to assure you, gentle reader, that I would never in a million years stoop that low. I mean, I couldn’t live it down even if I had, say, nine lives.
And yet, I feel the need to give you just a small taste of what it is I would never write about. Not for the sake of titillation. Not for the sake of humiliating anyone. Certainly not for the sake of furthering political discussion.
I mention it only so you know where the lines must be drawn.
So, here goes, this from a recent Heidi Ganahl interview with conservative KNUS radio talk-show host Jimmy Sengenberger, in which the GOP nominee for governor goes all in on the F-word:
“Not many people know that we have furries in Colorado schools,” Ganahl began. “Have you heard about this? Yeah, kids identifying as cats. It sounds absolutely ridiculous, but it’s happening all over Colorado and schools are tolerating it. It’s insane. What on earth are we doing? Knock it off. Schools, put your foot down. Like, stop it. Let’s get back to teaching basics and not allow this woke ideology, ideological stuff (to) infiltrate our schools. And it is happening here in Colorado. It’s why I moved from Boulder Valley to Douglas County, because it was happening in my kids’ schools four years ago.”
If you don’t know what a furry is, here’s a primer via furscience.com. Here’s a shorter version via The Sun’s Unaffiliated political column: “Furries are people who create anthropomorphized animal characters for themselves . . . some of whom wear animal ears or tails.”
Whatever the definition, the idea that this is an issue in Colorado schools is, of course, absurd. It’s even more absurd than the notion that Critical Race Theory is found somewhere in your kid’s third-grade curriculum.
As you might have guessed, this is one more battle, if a particularly obscure one, in the ongoing American political culture wars, and it apparently gets tied to those in the transgender community. I guess it’s what you talk about when you find there’s nothing more to say about who uses which bathroom or who plays on which sports team.
I don’t know if being woke has anything to do with the F-word. I think it’s more likely a way to get to the transgender issue, which, now that same-sex marriage is (hopefully) a settled matter, has taken its place in the culture wars.
What I can predict, though, is that it will play no role in the Colorado governor’s race or any race anywhere in the country or, dare I say it, the world.
☀ MORE MIKE LITTWIN COLUMNS
The most obvious candidate for culture-war impact in the midterms, now only six weeks away, is the Supreme Court’s unpopular overturning of Roe v. Wade and the quick move by many red states to severely limit abortion or to ban it altogether. It goes beyond that, of course. Some state legislators want to criminalize the women who get an abortion or even those who assist a woman leaving an anti-abortion state to come to, say, pro-abortion-rights Colorado to get the procedure done.
This was once all a hypothetical political question that became only too real after the Trump/McConnell elevation to the Court of the unholy trinity of Justices Brett Kavanaugh, Neil Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett, who joined with Sam Alito and Clarence Thomas to unsettle what was 50 years of settled abortion law.
Democrats are going hard on this issue, betting in the post-Roe world that pro-abortion-rights women — a significant majority — will flood the polls (or, in Colorado’s case, the mailboxes). There were skeptics about this strategy. In Colorado, we remember when Mark Udall was being called Mark Uterus for making abortion a central issue in his losing Senate race to Cory Gardner.
But the skeptics pretty much lost the argument after the Kansas vote to overwhelmingly reject a referendum that would have removed abortion-rights protections from the state constitution. I mean, it’s Kansas, right? If you’re winning on this issue in Kansas, where do you lose?
Democrats are hoping the issue will do for them what same-sex marriage did for George W. Bush in his 2004 reelection campaign against John Kerry. It will definitely mean more than the issue I mentioned above (and swear, on all I hold dear, never to mention again). Meanwhile, Republicans have gone back to the old standby — law and order — despite GOP support from many for the, uh, patriots who stormed the Capitol.
It’s hard to know in these hyperpartisan times — when the lines are drawn less often in the sand than in concrete — what will move voters in the end. We saw in Republican primaries that voting to impeach Trump was basically a career ender. Liz Cheney, of the Wyoming dynastic Cheneys, lost her primary run by 40 points.
And yet, she’ll be back in what may well be the last public hearing of the January 6 House committee, in which Cheney can be expected once again to play a starring role. She says there may be more hearings, and, in any case, promises to do whatever she can to stop Trump if he runs for president again in 2024, as many expect.
The committee has done a brilliant job making the case against Trump and the January 6 rioters, dropping a bombshell or two or more in nearly every hearing. But will January 6 of last year make a difference this November?
For that matter, will all the various Trump investigations — now numbering at least six — make a difference in November? Will the constant run of bestsellers — the latest via New York Times reporter and Trump “psychiatrist” Maggie Haberman — detailing the many Trump scandals matter in November?
You should know that, according to the recent New York Times/Siena College poll, Trump’s approval ratings, while still well under water, have hardly budged since the hearings began and even since the FBI took back all the classified material that Trump had secretly stashed at Mar-a-Lago.
It’s only one poll, but it’s still enough to make your hair — and maybe even your fur — stand on end.
Mike Littwin has been a columnist for too many years to count. He has covered Dr. J, four presidential inaugurations, six national conventions and countless brain-numbing speeches in the New Hampshire and Iowa snow.
The Colorado Sun is a nonpartisan news organization, and the opinions of columnists and editorial writers do not reflect the opinions of the newsroom. Read our ethics policy for more on The Sun’s opinion policy and submit columns, suggested writers and more to email@example.com.