Saturday, April 8


I had lunch with a Republican businessman friend of mine today. We always get to the subject of politics even though ours are so different. He's brilliant, a Mensa freak, a really good person and active in Republican and intellectual circles (he hosts a monthly salon at a local sushi place where the likes of former city council members, activists of diverse organizations, and regular people meet to discuss topics like RACE). But he's a Republican. I always find conversations with him extremely enlightening.

Illegal Immigration. He thinks the McCain-Kennedy bill looks like a decent solution. But he's not hot on the topic. I can understand why. He's big on outsourcing jobs to foreign countries (in his case, South Africa). He travels the world and thinks globally. [That makes me think of a related subject. I'm old enough to remember that the GOP used to be the party of isolationism, while Democrats promoted international cooperation. Now the Rethugs want to sell the country to foreigners as long as they make the profits on the sale.]

He heard a woman arguing against the breakup of families in the form of shipping undocumented parents out while their U.S. citizen children remain here. That's bogus, he says. The families of criminals are always affected by their actions. Dads or moms go to jail and are separated from their kids. He thinks the bestowing of citizenship by virtue of birth on U.S. soil needs to be changed. He tells me of a practice that is being increasingly commonplace among South Koreans: a couple books a vacation to the U.S. during a woman's third trimester so she can give birth here and give her child U.S. citizenship, and then they don't go home, they stay here. He thinks children should be given citizenship only if at least one parent is a legal resident. That seems reasonable to me.

(You know, if I didn't listen to broadcast news and talk I'd never know that illegal immigration was THE hot topic now. I haven't heard it brought up in conversation at work or play by anyone, right or left, until this.)

The Massachusetts Health Care Act. He watched a show with Mitt Romney explaining the program, and it sounds pretty good to him except for one big thing. He has a problem with the state requiring everyone to have health insurance. It's a slippery slope, he points out. What other things could the state require of its citizens?

Iraq. The war has gone on way too long and cost way too much. He laughs embarrassedly and turns a little pink. Who would have thought...? I don't answer because I know what he's thinking. Before the war we sat at exactly that same table on the patio at Avanti as I explained my reasons for opposing the war. His unspoken thought is, "YOU thought it, didn't you?"

Tom DeLay and the "Culture of Corruption." Thank goodness he resigned so a decent Republican can take the seat. Campaign finance reform is a joke. The lobbyists are the problem. There's a legitimate role for lobbyists, but it's been distorted and needs to be redefined and codified.

Do you approve of the president's job performance? I've been wanting to know the makeup of that hard-core 36% who support the president. So here goes. Pretend I'm an AP pollster. "Do you approve of the job performance of the president?" Well, he says, I approve of a lot of the things he's done and I don't approve of others. Answer the question, I say, just as it's asked. Yes or no. Well then, I suppose I'd have to say no, he speaks quietly. All right then. But I wouldn't vote Democrat either. Ouch.

GOP Candidate Prospects. He didn't know who Sen. George Allen was. And he watches Fox News and listens to right-wing talk radio!

Said Condi Rice would be his first choice to run for president, but he knows she won't because she's gay. How do you know THAT? I exclaimed. I've always thought she had a huge crush on Dubya! That's just smoke and mirrors, he replied. Everyone knows she always travels with a female State Department official who's her not-so-secret lover. Gossip, I scoff. I oppose her because she's an ineffective, lying failure who's given cover to the most irresponsible president in history. Its just like Harriet Miers, my friend continues. Harriet MIERS is gay? I choke out. Okay, she's local. Do you know that for a fact? Well, he said, it was told to me by a close friend of hers so yes, I'd say I have no doubts about it. In fact, he went on, I wouldn't be surprised if that wasn't the strategy when Bush appointed her, to scare the jizzims out of the base by threatening to put the first gay justice on the court so that whatever friend-of-big-business he picked next would get an easy ride in. I don't quite get that, but we've just rolled in to the parking lot at my office.


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