“I don’t like him.”
“Who this time?”
“I thought you didn’t like Bush.”
“Didn’t like him either.”
“Okay, why don’t you like Obama?”
“He can’t work with people; doesn’t listen to people; wants to do everything his way. Besides, he’s a racist.”
“Wait one! Black people can’t be racist, according to them.”
“How come he called the Cambridge Police Department stupid for arresting that Gates fella? He didn’t have the whole story when he said it, and just because he might know Gates, doesn’t mean the cop did. Cop was just doing his job. Seems to me that every time there’s an incident about race, Obama’s there damn near as fast as Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson, and they’re two of the most bigoted people in the world.”
“You mean to tell me you don’t think there is racism?”
“Now who’s being the damned fool? Of course there’s racism. In most of the country it concerns blacks and whites, and both are guilty. Along America’s southern border, it’s racism against and by Mexicans; same’s true in California…and there, it’s racism against Chinese. Man, there is racism across this country, and I don’t care who says there isn’t because he or she just joined the damned fools club.”
“What you’re saying is that we can’t get along at all?”
“I’m not saying that all of it’s overt. Look at that black family – where the hell was that – but that family that got the note telling them that they should move somewhere else because “their kind” wasn’t welcome? Not even the balls to sign the note. Look at the number of black people working for Obama; that isn’t favoritism? Some kind of ‘ism’ has been in America since the Pilgrims hit the rock, and it’s not going away any time soon. Now, we’ve through Muslims into the mix and we get something I call ‘religionism.”
“So how do we cure this ‘ism’ problem?”
“We don’t; we can’t; there is no cure. We preach tolerance and practice intolerance. We say ‘love thy neighbor’ and then we put up six foot stockade fences around our yards. Scott was right when he wrote, ‘Oh what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive.’ Don’t get me wrong. I don’t think there’s a person alive today who could do the job of President of the United States. Fella by the name of John Dickerson – he’s the one gonna do Face the Nation when Bob Schieffer retires – well, anyway, he wrote a piece a few years ago about the skills our President ought to have. Here’s what he said: ‘Campaigns give us a good idea of a candidate’s priorities, but can they read the political landscape they’ll face when they get to office? Are they honest enough to win voters’ trust but ruthless enough cut a deal with their enemies when necessary? Are they comfortable with the schmoozing, backslapping, and ego-massaging that comes with the job?
‘Is the candidate focused enough to follow an overarching vision, but nimble enough to tweak that vision when real-world events intervene? Can they admit mistakes and learn from them? Can they sift through complex ideas? Can they recognize baloney when it comes from their staff or supporters? Do they know how to hire a good team?
‘Do they know how to deliver a good speech? Do they know when to stay quiet? Do they know how to read public opinion? Is it possible for a president to short circuit Congress by taking an issue directly to the people?
‘Has the candidate ever faced a true crisis? Do they have the equanimity to handle the erratic and unpredictable pressures of the office? How are they with uncertainty?’
“He raises some good questions, but he left out a couple of things. One of those is…can the candidate be bought. The amount of money that’s being spent on political campaigns these days is ridiculous and should, somehow, be stopped. The other question I’d raise is…can the candidate stand the public scrutiny that the media will give. Seems to me that if a candidate ever chewed gum in public or spit on a sidewalk, that will be reported as a travesty. Hell, look back at some of the Presidents we’ve had over the time America’s been in existence: Grant would have been thought of as a full-blown alcoholic; Lincoln would have been married to a drug addict; Harding was another drunk and fooled around just as much as Jefferson, Kennedy, or Clinton. There has probably never been one President who didn’t have flaws of some kind or other. Time was when we forgave those flaws. Seems like today, unless the President of the USA walks on water, he – or she, if that ever happens – won’t get elected. Hell, I didn’t like Bush because he started an unnecessary war; Clinton couldn’t keep his pecker in his pants; George the first was involved in that damned Iran/Contra thing and that pissed me off; and, as far as I’m concerned, Reagan did nothing but spend money we didn’t have and slept through half his own Cabinet meetings. I don’t know who’s gonna win in 2016, but I hope the poor bastard’s got skin thicker ‘n an armadillo!”
“Un…and, er…you too…have a good day.”