Everyone who has spent a lifetime fighting for ideals against hopeless odds has a little piece of folk wisdom, a mantra, tucked away in his or her head -- something to come back to, something to think about, something to keep the spirits up. Today is a good day, a day for victory laps. Last night, New York voted to legalize same-sex marriages. The vote was hedged round with all manner of protections for churches, synagogues, and mosques where the least whiff of homosexuality carries with it the scent of brimstone, but Cuomo and Bloomberg, a whole lot of Democrats and a crucial handful of Republicans made it happen.
At times like these, I think of my little mantra -- a line from that great Newman/Redford movie, The Sting. Redford's buddy, Luther, has been murdered by Doyle Lonnegan [the late, great Robert Shaw], and he comes looking for Newman in a whorehouse to learn how to get back at Lonnegan by playing "the big con." Newman agrees, after sobering up, but he warns Redford: "I just don't want a hothead comin' back halfway through sayin' it's not enough, because it's all we're goin' to get."
There is great wisdom in that line. Nothing is ever perfect in politics, no candidate ever meets one's impossibly high standards, no victory is ever without compromise, but in this fight, which goes on for a lifetime, we don't need any hotheads who come back halfway through saying it's not enough, because it is all we are going to get.