Originally published: Nov. 14, 2000
There are so many learned and brilliant discussions on the current situation involving our recent – and apparently ongoing – presidential election, I could not possibly add anything of value. I have never had any confidence in talking politics, nor have I ever had success in screening my sometimes unsophisticated choice of words. I think of myself as a fair person, but am often accused of extremes because of the harsh, highly subjective and admittedly scatological words I apply to parties, policies, and politicians with whom I disagree––I have always been less forgiving in my speech than in my rational mind.
As the youngest of four growing up, I began using questionable language at the age of eight. When I was in third grade, my big brother witnessed me marching home in a rainstorm after school, chanting the F–word like a mantra as I stomped through puddles. Try as I might, I am not likely to affect any great change to my vocabulary now.
My shortcomings are many, but I still recognize brilliance and truth in political rhetoric when I witness it. And I did witness it. In the most honest, profound and courageous political discussion it has ever been my pleasure to observe. The participants were polite and respectful of each other, never stooping to name–calling, never becoming snippy. So well behaved and, indeed, gallant were the two, that a mediator was not required.
Here is a partial transcript of that conversation.
Pundit A: What do you like better, George Bush or Al Gore?
Pundit B: Al Gore.
Pundit A: What do you like better, George Bush or flowers?
Pundit B: Flowers.
Pundit A: What do you like better, George Bush or ivy?
(Note: Both participants had spent the weekend ripping ivy off trees – strangling and very established ivy with stalks as big around as a five–year–old’s leg. It tore at hands and lashed at faces as it was stripped away.)
Pundit B: (heatedly) Ivy!
Several hours later there was a follow–up question and answer session in a less formal, town hall meeting sort of atmosphere. Here, the two scholars were relaxed, and, pulling thoughtfully on chilled juice–boxes, seemed more than willing to share their true feelings.
Pundit B: Who would you vote for, a raccoon or George Bush?
Pundit A: A raccoon! (Note: It is well known that raccoons are Pundit A’s preferred animals and his ideal choice for presidential candidate. A well-placed raccoon, Mr. A has intimated, would gain his support over just about anything, active or inert. It was, admittedly, an unfair way to phrase the question.)
Pundit B: Who would you vote for, George Bush or salt?
Pundit A: Salt.
Pundit B: Who would you vote for, George Bush or a rock?
Pundit A: A big rock or a little one?
Pundit B: A teeny, tiny one.
Pundit A: A rock.
Later in the evening, a pull–up snapped around his narrow hips and his hair still wet and smelling of grape scented shampoo, Mr. A hunched over a red marker and a drawing of a spaceship. Obviously in a more congenial mood, he softened somewhat on the subject of George W. Bush.
Pundit A: If George Bush was in this house and he asked me who I was voting for, I would say, “I don’t know yet”.
When asked why, as a well-known Gore supporter, he would say this, he replied,
“Because I wouldn’t want to hurt his feelings”.
It’s good to know that the character flaws of one generation don’t always infect the next. It’s reassuring that charitable thoughts can be accompanied by gentle words. I’m glad someone is being mature about this. And of course it’s a Democrat.