“Wow. This will be my first Father’s Day,” I said, more to myself than to anyone in particular.
My boss, James Phillips, who has four children, snickered and said “Well, la ti da.”
Like most men who grew up in the South, I am an unmistakable Mama’s Boy. If ever there is a voice in my head urging me to do the right thing, it is and always will be my mother’s.
That being said, though, my father did bestow on me one invaluable asset: an intense allergy to BS.
I’ll give you an example: While I was growing up, it seemed that every year one of several perpetual screw-ups my parents knew would all the sudden hop onto a straight-and-narrow path.
My mom would say something like, “Well, he’s started going to church, and I think he’s really going to turn things around for himself.” Upon hearing this, my dad would roll his eyes.
I don’t mean to paint my mother as naive. She just always wants to believe in the best of people. Though that stance takes the ethical high ground, it usually ends up in disappointment.
For much of my life, I was more inclined to agree with my mom. But the older I get, the more my dad makes sense.
Another important memory I have is the response my father gave to a question I asked him when I was about 8 years old. For the life of me, I can’t remember what it was, but I know I inquired about the reason for someone’s odd behavior.
My dad bent down to get eye-level with me, then put his hand between our faces and rubbed his thumb against his four fingers.
“You know what that means,” he asked me.
“Money,” I said.
“That’s right. And that’s what makes this whole world go round,” he said.
Though I didn’t reflect on the advice much at the time, it stayed in my mind, and, when I got older, I thought, “How cynical. There are other motivations in this world. Things like love or art — or heck, at least sex.”
Of course there are other explanations for behavior, but the more I learn about life, the more my dad’s comment seems to fit into every action I see.
In no arena is this more evident than in politics. I know that’s not a big surprise to anyone, but money has trumped all other factors in the era of Citizens United (a Supreme Court decision that did away with limits to campaign contributions).
As an example I point to Newark, New Jersey Mayor Cory Booker’s recent statements on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
You see Booker is a well-liked character by liberals and independents, and he is generally regarded as someone with a bright future in the Democratic Party.
But Booker received the scorn of many left-leaning political figures when he defended private equity firms like Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital on the show. The stance went against rhetoric from the Democratic Party and the Obama campaign.
While many liberals were upset, Booker was actually praised by some for his courage to break from his party’s talking points.
I don’t want to get into Bain Capital’s merits — or lack thereof. For the record, however, Bain, like most private equity firms, made a large chunk of its money from leveraged buyouts that slashed pensions and saddled struggling companies with the payments of multi-million-dollar loans that went solely to Bain Capital.
But getting back to the Booker comments, I initially thought that he was defending private equity to appear to be a centrist who is sick of all the political mudslinging and pandering to the lowest common denominator, blah, blah, blah.
The next day, however, I heard an interesting perspective from Cenk Uygur of the online news show The Young Turks. He said that Booker was in fact announcing to Wall Street campaign backers that Corey Booker is open for business and friendly to the financial industry.
Now, before I go further, I need to be clear that both Democrats and Republicans receive most of their campaign contributions from Wall Street interests. Democrats, however, have the decency to lie to their constituents about it.
But given the ubiquity of Wall Street money in politics, I thought Uygur’s analysis was incredibly reasonable and the most likely scenario.
The next day, however, I saw a link on Twitter about the Booker comments. As it turns out, Booker received hundreds of thousands of dollars from Wall Street during his last campaign for mayor, at least $5,000 of that came directly from members of Bain Capital (though not Romney).
When I read that, I laughed and then turned to my 7-month-old son, Solomon, who was playing next to me in his exer-saucer.
I leaned in toward him, put my hand between our faces and rubbed my fingers with my thumb.
Solomon looked up at me, grinned and then returned to his electronic numbers and shapes.
Someday, Sol, dad won’t seem so silly.
Daniel Gaddy is a staff reporter for the Daily Mountain Eagle and a Walker County native. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.