MUSINGS INSPIRED BY A TRIP TO D.C.
Just returned from a business trip to Washington, D.C., where I met with my nephew who works for the Kerry/Edwards campaign. In the past week he's met John Kerry, Howard Dean and Ted Kennedy. Morale has been a bit down, he said, so evidently they've brought in the big guns to try to raise it. Nephew said the campaign is absolutely not interested in national polls -- they've got their eyes on the state polls and the electoral college. Their intention, he said, is to actually get elected. They're convinced that whoever scores biggest in Getting Out The Vote will win.
He also told me that John Kerry is absolutely, totally confident that he is going to win. McCurry and Lockhart have brought a new vigor to the campaign and have been accepted very nicely by the veteran staff.
I think the most interesting thing my nephew related was in response to a remark I made about Kerry and Iraq. I said, "I'm sick of the media blasting Kerry for not telling us precisely what he'd do about Iraq. After all, the situation changes from day to day. If he wins the presidency he'll have to assess and decide based upon the real-life situation at that time." But my nephew said I was wrong. John Kerry, he asserted, knows exactly what he thinks should be done. But he can't disclose his plan prematurely -- that would be giving information to the opposition (he laughed when I asked him if he meant opposition in the Middle East or domestically).
When I got into the taxi that would take me to Dulles, my driver noticed the Kerry/Edwards pin on my collar and asked me in a thick Middle Eastern accent if I was going to vote for Kerry. I said I certainly am and asked him if he had decided who he would be voting for yet. "I'm not entirely sure," he replied. "My daughter is voting for Bush, but my wife supports Kerry. My daughter thinks we should vote for Bush because of what he's trying to do for my country." I asked him what country he was referring to and he answered, "Afghanistan." I told him I had read a book about Afghanistan many years ago that I had re-read several times. We talked about the beauty of the land there, the wild rivers that begin as creeks and seasonally swell into raging torrents, the shadow of the Hindu Kush. He grieved over the destruction of recent years.
As it turns out, he and his wife came to the U.S. 22 years ago, and haven't returned since. They had their hopes raised high by the U.S. invasion that the eras of Soviet and Taliban oppression would end. Bush was briefly their hero. They were bewildered when we didn't seem to understand that Al Qaeda and the Taliban were largely enabled by Pakistan to attain their power and influence and turned to Musharraf, whose military junta had overthrown a democratically elected government and let A.Q. Khan sell nukes to any and all, as our best buddy.
But their real sense of betrayal was when we turned our eyes to Iraq. "Saddam could have waited another four years," he stated. "My daughter doesn't understand that -- she just hears Fox News telling her that Bush has liberated women in our country. She doesn't see that we'll probably never get back home now -- the Taliban are coming back, bigger than ever. People in the Middle East hate Bush so much things will never get better while he's president."
I said it sounded to me like he HAS decided who to vote for. "I suppose what I mean is that I want to know: will Kerry do better?" I promised him, he would. "It would be so wonderful to see our families again," he said wistfully. Then he grinned. "Of course, we'd have to save some money for the trip first!"
When I got out I gave him a pretty big tip. "To help you save for your trip to Afghanistan," I said. He smiled. "Maybe we'll go together."
I got on the plane and a fellow passenger noticed my Kerry pin. "The opposition is behind you," he said. The man directly behind me had a load of Bush bumper stickers he was putting away. "It's a great country, he said, we can agree to disagree." I'd understand if I was from Texas, he said. "I am," I replied (well, an adopted one -- I've lived here for 18 years). He was totally surprised, as if a Kerry supporter from Texas was unheard of. "We're not that rare," I told him. "Many of us are just hesitant to talk about it with Republicans." Others around us began to chat very amicably and voiced our voting preferences. It was an interesting little group, perhaps indicative of a more macro population. The lone African-American male said he's voting for Kerry. Three women are voting for Kerry. Three white males and one white woman are voting for Bush.
I finally arrived home with my suitcase filled with DNC t-shirts. My Republican-leaning daughter asked, "Didn't you bring anything home for those who aren't politically biased?"
It's good to know that son Silmarill was keeping the blog fires burning. Don't miss his posts -- every one of them is well worth reading.