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November 05, 2009 - Image 11

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The Michigan Daily - michigandaily.com

Thursday, November 5, 2009 -- 3B

The Michigan Daily - michigandailycom Thursday, Novemher 5, 2009 - 3B

The fall of the
Obama Age

ell, it was a good 12
months for the Demo-
crats. They had their
fun: their Nobel Prizes, their
Equal Pay Acts,
their Portu-
guese Water
Dogs. But all
good things
O must come to f.
an end. And
Tuesday night,
the Obama Age ZACH
ended not with SMWVTZ
a whimper, but
with something significantly qui-
eter than a whimper.
On Tuesday night, Republican
governors swept into power with
wins in both Virginia and New
Jersey, states soon-to-be-former
President Barack Obama won just
a year ago. In Virginia, state Sen.
Creigh Deeds got the Creigh beat
out of him by Attorney General
Bob McDonnell. McDonnell ran
a smooth and positive campaign
on issues like jobs, taxes and, well
that was actually it: just jobs and
taxes. Meanwhile his opponent,
Deeds, brought up irrelevant
points about whether gays and
women deserve equal rights just
like the rest of us.
Deeds pointed to McDonnell's
1989 master's thesis wherein the
now governor-elect wrote, "gov-
ernment policyshould favor mar-
ried couples over 'cohabitators,
homosexuals or fornicators.' " But
this was just the guy's 93-page
thesis. As college students, we've
all faced due dates and in a fren-
zied panic, and with three or four
Red Bulls in us, we have likely
written some pretty wacky stuff.
Who hasn't, as the witching hour
approaches, scribbled down a
page or two saying that working
women and feminists were "detri-
mental" to the American family?
Who cares if McDonnell spent lit-
erally years working on the thesis
and gave it the meaningless title
"The Republican Party's Vision
for the Family"? These were just
Bobby's wild college years when
he was 35 years old and attend-
ing televangelist Pat Robertson's
Regent University, a fundamental-
ist Christian safety school.
Before the election, McDonnell
said, "Like everybody, my views
on many issues have changed as I
have gotten older."
Of course, his views have
changed. Except on gay rights.
And abortion rights. And whether
government policy should favor
married couples over cohabitators,
homosexuals or fornicators. But
beyond that, he's a changed man.
Congrats, Virginia. You guys
must be partying like it's 1949,
because your new governor cer-
tainly thinks it still is.
A bigger upset came in the
solidly blue home state of Zach
Braff: New Jersey. There, former
United States Attorney and Tony
Soprano look-a-like Chris Christie
ousted incumbent governor and
all-around unlikable person Jon
Corzine by a five-point margin.
This race was a dirty one, even by
New Jersey standards. (Fun Fact:
New Jersey is dirty.)
First, Corzine made thinly
veiled attempts to point out
Christie's, let's say, ample car-
riage. After running ads accusing
Christie of "throwing his weight
around" while U.S. attorney, a
reporter asked Corzine, "Is Chris
Christie fat?" to which the gover-

nor responded, "Am I bald?" (Fun
Fact: Jon Corzine is very bald.)
Christie, usinghis ownbrand
of dirty tricks, called Corzine a
failed governor who broke numer-
ous campaign promises including
a promise to lower New Jersey's
property taxes, which are the
highest in the nation. Christie
also brought up the fact that
Corzine spent tens of millions of
dollars of his own money on his
re-election campaign - money
he made while helping to lay the
foundation for the complete deci-
mation of the world economy as
co-CEO of Goldman Sachs in the
mid-1990s. Sometimes politics is
an ugly, dirty, fat, bald business,
all right.
In his concession speech Cor-
zine concluded, "There's a bright
future ahead for New Jersey if we
stay focused on people's lives, and
I'm telling you, I'm going to do
that for the rest of my life," before
adding: "Now if you'll excuse me,
I've got to finish reinforcing the
floor boards at the Governor's
Mansion before Chris Christie
moves in. Ohhhh!" In New Jersey,

even the political winds have an
unsafe level of toxic materials.
There was only one gloomy
spot in what was otherwise a
total rebuffing of Obama and his
socialist agenda. In New York's
sleepy 23rd district, Democrat
Bill Owens squared off against
Conservative Party candidate
Doug Hoffman. Hoffman became
Owens' only opponent after Dede
Scozzafava, the Republican nomi-
nee, dropped out after weeks of
hammering from the True-Right-
Wing-Nut wing of the Republican
Party.
Scozzafava, who is pro-choice
and supports equal rights for
same-sex couples, infuriated real
conservatives who looked to Hoff-
man to save the cause. Storied
public servants like Sarah Palin,
Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck,
who of course all understand the
intricacies and cultural differ-
ences between, say, Wasilla and
Watertown, New York, joined the
fight against the GOP candidate
and gotbehind Hoffman. What
a win for the Tea Party move-
ment and those who see some
eerie similarities between Barack
Obama and Chairman Mao.
Everyone assunted that Hoff-
man, the conservative, would
walk to victory with a wide fund-
raising advantage and the fact the
North Country of New York hasn't
voted for a Democrat for Congress
in a while. The last Democratic
congressional candidate to win
upstate was almost 150 years ago
during the Civil War. (Fun Fact:
The previous sentence is true.)
But those pesky voters, upset
that Hoffman didn't actually live
in the district, received most of
his funding from out of state and
has policy positions that makes
Phyllis Schlafly look like Kim
Kardashian, decided to vote for
the Democrat. But the Conserva-
tives made their message loud and
clear: If the Republicans don't
nominate the exact same candi-
date with the exact same views in
every, single race, they'll have no
choice but to let the Democrat win
every time.
"But why," I hear you cry, "does
this threaten the Obama agenda?"
Well, it's simple: because everyone
says it does. In politics, it doesn't
Fun fact: Politics
is an ugly,
dirty, fat, bald
business.
matter if it's true, it just matters if
you invent a compelling narrative
and repeat it ad nauseam through-
out the news cycle. It doesn't mat-
ter that the president's approval
ratings in Virginia and New Jersey
are exactly the percentage of the
vote he received last November.
It doesn't matter that Virginia
has voted for the opposite party
for governor than it did for presi-
dent for the last eight elections. It
doesn't matter that this grab bag of
races has absolutely no bearing on
and indicates nothing about what
will happen in next year's mid-
terms or Obama's reelection bid in
2012. All that matters is that these
races are seen as a referendum on
the president and his policies, no

matter how untrue that may actu-
ally be.
Eric Cantor, Republican House
Whip and runner-up for world's
greatest self-hating Jew - coming
in a close second to Joe Lieberman
- put itbest Tuesday night. He
deftly interpreted what America
was saying in these off-off year,
low turnout elections: "Enough
with the spending. Enough with
the waste. Enough with the
government overreach. They've
rejected the policies that have
been what this administration in
Washington has been about."
It's a perfect story. Just ask
The New York Times, which
ran this headline Wednesday:
"Governor's Races Seen as Jolts
for Obama." It's good to know
that whether it's the Republican
Party or The New York Times,
politicos never let the facts get in
the way of a good story.
Smilovitz is partying like it's 1949
in his bomb shelter. To join him in
his rally against the Communists,
e-mail him at zachis@umich.edu.

Aunt Agatha's is one of only two mystery-themed bookstores in Michigan.

Mysteries admr

Aunt Agatha's Mystery Bookstore offers a
peculiar haven for whodunit enthusiasts
By Molly McGuire ( Daily Arts Writer

Jamie Agnew had a collection of
skulls before he and his wife Robin
opened Aunt Agatha's Mystery
Bookstore in downtown Ann Arbor
17 years ago. But stacked on top of
a bookshelf near the entrance, sur-
rounded by old movie posters and
mystery authors' signatures, the
collections looks like it was assem-
bled specificallyto add to the store's
eclectic ambiance.
A sign near the door on the
store's Fourth Street location says
"the game is afoot," and upon enter-
ing one gets the sense that it really
is. Classic jazz cassettes play jaun-
tily in the background as custom-
ers stand enveloped by wall-to-wall
books. Mysteries of all kinds are
piled chockablock on the shelves.
Partially inspired by Uncle
Edgar's Mystery Bookstore in Min-
neapolis, Jamie and Robin Agnew
drew on their mutual love of books
and mysteries to open up a kind of
sister store in Ann Arbor. As a great
book town, Ann Arbor seemed a
good fit for Aunt Agatha's Mystery
Bookstore. Playing off of Agatha
Christie's unofficial title as The
Queen of Crime, the bookstore has
an "Agatha" movie poster over the
front desk and an avatar of a woman
with a handbag and a dagger in the
window. The sounds of Louis Arm-
strong, Duke Ellington and hits
from the '20s and '30s emanate
from a cassette player to evoke the
golden age of detective fiction.
As a niche bookstore, Aunt
Agatha's has books belonging to
almost every mystery subgenre.
From noir to true crime, thrillers
to all-American cozy mysteries, the
bookshop has everything a who-
dunit enthusiast might want.
"We try and keep the definition
as broad as possible as to what a

mystery is," Agnew said. "I mean,
we have spy books, we have sus-
pense books, we have murder
books. We're not in the business
of excluding people - we're in the
business of including people."
As one of the only mystery book-
stores in Michigan, Aunt Agatha's
is sometimes burdened with piles
of donated mysteries. The books
seem to be overflowing off the pur-
ple bookshelves. Serving as a sta-
tion for people to leave their most
beloved mysteries, Aunt Agatha's
is full of amateur gumshoes' old
treasures. If you're lucky, you
might even find a thriller peppered
with the notes of a reader from
long ago.
Specializing in a genre like this
helps ensure that, despite all
the competition from online
retailers, other local stores and
the library (the main competi-
tion in today's lean times), Aunt
Agatha's still has unusual items
that Borders can't offer. Agatha's
also sells mystery novelties of
other forms like puzzles, games
and themed greeting cards. The
bookstore has even been focus-
ing on events, likebook signings,
to keep up with the rest of the
book-world.
"Book business is becoming
isore and more event-driven,
and so we've gotten on that
bandwagon," Agnew said. "We
start out with authors when
they're relatively unknown and
then hopefully they continue
coming here when they become
better known. We have a good
reputation in the mystery com-
munity of having a good book
signing and good customers so a
lot of people who are starting off
come here."

Author autographs adorn the
walls of the bookshop. Local writ-
ers like Loren D. Estleman and
Steve Hamilton come in for sign-
ings often along with other mys-
tery novelists. The shop has two to
three events a month, with signings
by Estleman and Hamilton coning
up in the next few months. This
Sunday, authors Sharon Fiffer and
Libby Fischer Hellmann will be
coming to the store to sign their
new books as well.
But this quirky Ann Arbor sta-
ple seems to be unknown to many
people, especially locals who don't
realize what's right around the
corner.
"We're unique," Agnew said.
"We're the only mystery store in
Michigan and people from out of
town always come in here and their
eyes bug out. If their kid is going
to the 'U,' every time they come to
visit they come here and they love
it. But people from town kind of

take us for granted:"
As much as it's fun to imagine,
there's no typical mystery book-
store patron. But undergraduate
students rarely take the time to stop
in the store, accordingto Agnew.
"To me, you have to have a cer-
tain maturity to enjoy mysteries,"
Agnew said. "They're about life and
moral decisions and real people in
the real world. We get grad stu-
dents, we get professors. A lot of
women read mysteries, but it's defi-
nitely an older crowd."
But perhaps the most charming
thing about Aunt Agatha's Mystery
Bookstore is the enthusiasm of the
people who work there and their
extensive knowledge of the genre.
The evidence is covering the walls.
"You can go into Borders and it's
like any other Borders in the world,
but you go in here and it's like noth-
ing else," Agnew said. "Whether
that's good orbad, I don'tknow."
Bad it certainly is not.

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