Politics & Policy

Button-Wearing, Rioting, Fishing, &C.

Everywhere I go, I see Kerry-Edwards buttons. (I’m in Manhattan, remember.) Every single night in the concert hall or opera house, I see people with Kerry-Edwards buttons. I have never once seen a Bush-Cheney button.

I’m a little puzzled by those Democratic button-wearers. Surely they can assume that others will assume they’re voting for Kerry–who’s not, around here? So why do they wear the buttons? Are they trying to persuade those who look at their garments? But they’re persuaded already.

It may be some group impulse–or some form of preening. I don’t know. I am not a psychologist. To me, wearing a Kerry-Edwards button in a Manhattan concert hall or opera house is like wearing a button that says, “I’m a good person,” or, “I hate all things bad.” I’ve been trying to figure out why I despise it so (this button-wearing). Maybe it’s because it’s too easy, too safe. Wearing a Bush-Cheney button would be interesting; admirable, in a way. Wearing a Kerry-Edwards button is just joining up with the mob.

Since I’ve never lived in a political majority–a political majority in my community–I’m not 100 percent sure what it’s like. I do know this: If I lived in, say, Waco, or Provo, I’d be embarrassed to wear a Bush-Cheney button.

But that’s me.

I’ll tell you where you can find a Bush-Cheney button in this town! The following is from a reader:

Thought you’d appreciate this. I’m a conservative 27-year-old woman living on the Upper East Side who is sick and tired of seeing Kerry pins and anti-W. pins all over the streets of Manhattan, not to mention being constantly attacked by those clipboard people. [Yes, those Kerry-Edwards clipboard people are annoying–and legion.] Anyway, I decided to order a Bush-Cheney pin to wear on my purse until the election. The pin had been on no longer than ten minutes when I walked into the local bagel shop to pick up breakfast. As I’m waiting, the woman behind me turns to leave, but not before commenting (and loudly enough for the entire establishment to hear), “I don’t know how you can vote for Bush. If you are the youth or the future of this country, we are in big trouble.” I didn’t want my fellow New Yorkers, who were calmly enjoying their coffee and bagels, to be further disturbed, so I simply said, “And I don’t understand how you can vote for Kerry.” [Oh, I can!]

It did comfort me when the man next to me said, “Don’t worry–I’m registered in Florida and I’m driving back to vote in person next week.”

Hmmm!

‐Here’s a question: It is impolite to say, “I believe that, if Kerry and Edwards are elected, the risk to this country will increase. I believe that our enemies will be delighted and emboldened, and our friends disheartened and weakened. I believe that civilization will be all the more vulnerable.”

Okay, that question: Impolite though it may be, what if you believe it? What if you believe it is, in fact, true? Do you just shut up, out of manners? Keep mum until Nov. 3 or so?

Listen, I don’t really believe that Democrats think we hate the elderly–enough to deprive them of their Social Security checks, forcing them into the snow. But certainly no sense of politeness keeps them from saying it.

If we say what we think, however, the M-bomb–”M” for McCarthy–gets dropped on our heads.

‐One of the themes that run through this column is Democratic bullying, and intimidation. Mrs. Edwards said a lot yesterday when she said there wouldn’t be riots–”if we win.” An astute statement: Republicans and conservatives don’t riot, no. They face that from others.

Another reader letter: “Mr. N.: My son is a member of the Metropolitan Police Dept. in D.C. He has been put on alert that there will be no leaves before or after the election because they fear serious civil disorder if Bush wins. He has $100 on a Bush victory, and I hope he is right.”

A hundred bucks? That’s confidence. (May I borrow some? I don’t mean money.)

‐Several weeks ago, I said I wouldn’t write any more about Jimmy Carter, because I was Cartered out–just too weary, and sickened, to continue. But I’ll break my rule, for a sec. (I’ve stuck to the Dowd and Friedman rule brilliantly, I think, for many, many months. That particular rule is a pleasure to abide by.) You know how close Carter and Michael Moore are, in many respects. At the Democratic convention, the former president invited Moore to sit in his box. He told the filmmaker there was no one he’d rather sit with. And he informed a group of Emory students that his two favorite movies are Casablanca–and Fahrenheit 9/11. Carter has become a genuine kook. But you’re not supposed to say it. He’s a statesman, a Nobel Peace Prize winner, a house-builder, etc.

In any event, Carter and Moore share peculiar views of the American Revolution, and of the Iraq situation. Bear with me a moment.

On MSNBC, Chris Matthews asked Carter, “As an historian now, and studying the Revolutionary War, . . . do you see any parallels between the fighting that we did on our side and the fighting that is going on in Iraq today?” Answered Carter, “Well, one parallel is that the Revolutionary War, more than any other war until recently, has been the most bloody war we’ve fought. I think another parallel is that in some ways the Revolutionary War could have been avoided. It was an unnecessary war. . . . I think in many ways the British were very misled in going to war against America and in trying to enforce their will on people who were quite different from them at the time.”

And here is Michael Moore, in one of his writings: “The Iraqis who have risen up against the occupation are not ‘insurgents’ or ‘terrorists’ or ‘The Enemy.’ They are the REVOLUTION, the Minutemen, and their numbers will grow–and they will win. Get it, Mr. Bush?”

The Democratic party may have cracked up–but that doesn’t mean that the American people won’t hand them power.

‐Stephen Breyer made sort of a nice admission the other day–but a disquieting one, too. Of the Bush-Gore decision in December 2000, he said, “I had to ask myself, ‘Would I vote the same way if the names were reversed?’ I said yes. But I’ll never know for sure–because people are great self-kidders–if I reached the truthful answer.”

Wow. A lot of people would give him an A for honesty. Other people would say that that statement should disqualify a person for the Court.

And I would incline to those people.

(Actually, both groups could be right.)

‐I enjoyed something from President Bush, on the campaign trail. (Not a shock to you, I know.) An obstetrician said to him, “I can’t tell you what an honor it is to be the first person to touch a new life when it comes into the world. There is absolutely nothing like it.” W. replied, “Listen, it was pretty cool to be the second person when I touched Barbara and Jenna.” He invited the audience to “go ahead” and laugh. Then he said, “They’ll be happy to hear I let the doc go first.”

Listen, it was pretty cool . . . I like that in a president. I certainly like it in this one.

‐Also on the campaign trail, Bush exhorted a crowd, “Don’t overlook discerning Democrats. Remind them, if they want a safer America and a better America, put me and Dick Cheney back in office.”

I’m fairly sure that Kerry would have said, “put Dick Cheney and I”–or “put Dick Cheney and myself”!

‐On the subject of language (I realize it’s a little early in the column for that): I was reading a paper the other day, and the editors decided to bracket up a statement by Kofi Annan. This is what they published: “I don’t think the Russian or the French or the Chinese government[s] would allow [themselves] to be bought.”

Forgetting the content of the statement–dead wrong–Annan’s English had been dead right: “I don’t think the Russian or the French or the Chinese government would allow itself to be bought.” The newspaper went and forced grammatical errors into it.

There is enough to correct in Kofi Annan without (mis)correcting his English. And I never thought Annan and I would have something in common (“share something in common,” the unartful would say): Other people correct our English, incorrectly.

For example, I wrote, above, “One of the themes that run through this column . . .” A million unknowing souls will e-mail me to say, “No, that has to be ‘runs,’ because of ‘one’”–unless they’ve read this far!

‐Have a (further) taste of Zell Miller: “All of the pundits said I looked mad and sounded angry [in that Republican convention speech]. How very perceptive of them. Because I am angry about the direction my Democratic party is going in.” (Bless him for saying “in”–the unknowing leave that off. They also say, “Paris is one of the places I’ve been.” Oh, you’ve been Paris, have you?)

‐Back to Michael Moore for a second. Have no doubt that he is one of Kerry’s most important surrogates, asked, or paid, or not. He has been speaking to college groups, and he said this to a bunch in Wisconsin last week: “If you are a slacker, I fully respect your slacker ways. Here’s good news: The polls are open after noon. Sleep to noon, drink beer, vote for Kerry on Nov. 2.”

Lest there be any doubt. After Terry McAuliffe’s endorsement of his Afghanistan theories, it’s the least he can do.

‐A reader wrote to chide me for failing to comment on that column in the Guardian–the one that said, “John Wilkes Booth, Lee Harvey Oswald, John Hinkley Jr–where are you now that we need you?” My comment is this: That the Guardian would publish a column calling for the assassination of President Bush is not enough to stir commentary. It is ho-hum.

Which tells us how far we have come; how low we have descended.

‐Just want to apprise you of the latest figures: George Soros has contributed at least $26 million to the Kerry cause; Peter Lewis has given about $22 million. Remember that, Republicans, the next time you’re accused of belonging to the Party of the Rich. (When I was working at golf courses–for minimum wage–rich Democrats would always upbraid me for belonging to the party of the rich. So annoying.)

(Earlier this year, Phil Gramm–who grew up with nothing–told me that he was always blessed in his election opponents: “I never had one who wasn’t rich.”)

‐Let’s have a little mail. We’ll start with a valentine from Down Under.

Who the f*** are you to even judge a culture and religion that has existed for 10 times longer than your own, a religion that when adhered to and not perverted with hatred preaches peace, acceptance and understanding above all else. May I remind you that the Christianity that your “enlightened” leader claims is “good” is single-handedly responsible for more wars, death, pain and intolerance than every other religion on the planet put together, and before you step up to your fundamentalist pedestal and spout more bull****, I am white, I am a Christian, I am educated, and I will never step one foot on the soil of the United States as long as the current regime of fear, paranoia, intolerance and self-righteous attitude remain the prevailing force within your society.

You think that means that, if Kerry wins, he’s coming? Anyway, he signs himself a “Concerned Australian Citizen–on behalf of the rest of the free world that is not brain-washed by the Fox network.”

Poor Fox: So much brainwashing to do, so little time–and so big a world!

‐Want some nicer mail? I figured. In yesterday’s column, I published variations on “Give a man a fish . . .” Well, that occasioned more–a lot more. Amazing what you can do with that truism! Let’s have a few more, and then call it quits.

“Jay, I startled the heck out of a socialist friend in the 1980s with this version, and it still works: ‘Teach a man to fish, and you have a job for a day. Give a man a fish, and you have a job for life.’”

“A friend who is a philanthropist remarked to me, ‘Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and he’ll come back next year asking for a grant for a fishing boat.’”

“Give a man a fish and he’ll eat. Give a man a life and he’ll go fishing.”

“Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime. Teach him how to create an artificial shortage of fish and he eats steak for a lifetime.”

And this last one, from an experienced wife: “Give a man a fish and he’ll eat for a day. Teach a man to fish and you’ll never see him on the weekends.”

‐A friend of mine spotted this bumper sticker in the north of Michigan: “Earth First–we’ll log the other planets later.”

Naughty, naughty.

‐Finally, I thought this might amuse you–the following e-mail landed in my spam folder: “Remember Margaret Thatcher: Now is not the time to go wobbly. George Bush is going to win and win BIG!!”

Now, why did that land in my spam folder? Must have been the “BIG!!”! (Think Viagra.)

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