An email came to me by a circuitous route the other day, a shrill cry of horror at the prospect of an Obama Presidency.
Normally I would pass on responding to something like this--particularly since the specifics have been rebutted by others more effectively than I dilettante such as I could ever manage.
But this one is special--it comes from a person that I worked with very closely for many years. This person was a veteran of business affairs. A longtime senior executive. And I was his right hand.
We spent much time together in foxholes, but never talked about politics.
It turns out that was a wise decision.
I wrote lengthy replies to all the specifics in his missive, which included a potpourri of trite attacks on Obama's patriotism, his Marxist political philosophy, and his thinly veiled revolutionary black anger.
In response, my critique of media bias was groundbreaking, my debunking of his supposed terrorist associations, irrefutable. My defense of ACORN's voter registration efforts was a seminal work on the topic. I demolished the attempt to brand him a socialist. And my treatment of the issue of race was so nuanced and sensitive, that it brought even me to tears.
Yet none will ever bask in that brilliance. Because it was too long, and boring as hell. So I deleted it.
Yet I think that enough remains below, that were my former boss ever to read it, he still would never speak to me again.
Dear friend, what the fuck? You're smarter than this.
I can't respond to all the points in your email. I tried and it gave me writer's cramp. You listed a host of smears that you suspect bespeak the tips of icebergs, and which I think point only to desperate Republicans with their backs to the wall.
I don't think either of us is likely to persuade the other.
But all these little points you make. You seem to be winding up to deliver the lethal blow. To say that Obama is anti-American, some kind of alien mole trying to worm his way into the White House so he can execute a long-planned Manchurian Candidate strategy to destroy America from within.
Is that it?
Than why don't you just say it?
Why all this veiled suggestion, this collection of minutia worth nothing individually, adding up to nothing when combined?
Colin Powell, Richard Lugar, and Chuck Hagel, all seem pretty comfortable with Obama's intellect, loyalty and patriotism. If these impressionable innocents are being conned, hadn't you better reach out and show them all the startling truth you've discovered on the Internets? Before it's too late?
Bad enough to attack someone's character rather than their policies. But to do so in this roundabout way, and then refuse to own it. Well, as you were always so fond to say:
I know you prefer traditional conservative policies to what you perceive as liberalism. I can respect that and find plenty of room for dialogue.
But what about competence?
Nobody knows better than I how you do business. The attention to detail. The steadiness. Your respect for ability.
Is that really what you've seen from McCain and Palin?
What goes through your mind when you see McCain swing from talking about cutting taxes to offering to buy a country's worth of worthless mortgages? When he trumpets the importance of experience over all, and then selects a small-town Alaskan mayor whose biggest strengths are her boobs and her appeal to religious extremists to be his running mate? When he sacrifices the national interest in favor of petty political gamesmanship, suspending his campaign and rushing to Washington where his indiscretion promptly torpedoes a deal to resolve what you yourself just said was a genuine crisis of the highest order?
I know what you would have said about a business associate who behaved this way. Your disdain would know no limits.
Meanwhile, Obama runs an efficient juggernaut of a campaign, puts out some of the most detailed policy proposals that we've seen from a presidential candidate in ages, and demonstrates nothing but sense, stability and competence.
But you find that "empty" and "confusing." I don't think it's the message you have a problem with. It's the messenger.
You say it's not racism. I won't say it is.
I think it all comes down to your last words: You're scared. And what you're scared of is not policies you don't agree with. It's people who aren't like you and ideas that differ from yours.
I'm sure you would say that the mess the country finds itself in right now is not the result of your philosophy. I think you would argue that the underlying philosophy is sound. That the problem has been incompetence.
I don't buy it.
You have no problem with the opacity of conduct, with the authoritarian style, with the unalloyed rule of wealthy white guys who hire their fishing buddies for cabinet posts.
Well I've got news for you. That's the petrie dish that bred the incompetence. And that petrie dish will breed incompetence 100 times out of 100.
The fact that you would have the gall to suggest you know what's best when what you think best is such a monumental and self-evident failure is beyond presumptuous.
You're scared of what will happen if Obama gets his way? Well, I don't need to agonize over some ill-defined fear of what might happen if the country was run your way. I'm living it.
And frankly, it blows.
No Job? No Family? Sounds like you've got time to burn. Read the way-too-long version of this post so you can impress people at parties. If you're ever invited to one.