Thursday, July 28, 2005


So at the convention of the College Democrats of America last weekend, a guy was talking about how to respond to negative attacks and, though it crossed the party boundary, was instructive.

John McCain was debating an opponent in an election for Congress. McCain had rather recently moved to the area, while the other guy was a businessman who had lived his whole life there. His opponent said something like, "This McCain guy has only lived here 3 years [or whatever it was], but I've lived right here in Arizona my whole life and run my business for 25 years . How can he possibly represent you? Elect someone who knows what the people of this district need."

And McCain came back with the devastating reply:

"Well, you're right in that I haven't lived here that long. When I was a kid, my dad was in the Navy, and we moved from place to place a lot. But I've been here 3 years now, and that's the longest I've ever lived in any one place, except of course the 5 1/2 years I spent in the North Vietnamese POW camp." (Emphasis mine.)

When the guy told it to me the other day, I thought to myself, "Oh no he didn't!" but apparently "Oh yes he did." McCain won the election.

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I hope I'm this sharp when I'm in a nursing home

So my parents were hosting a dinner party and we were talking about politics or aging or something, and we get to telling stories about their families.

David said he was visiting his grandmother in the 1980s, right after Ronald Reagan was elected president, and she said "Things haven't been this bad since Hoover was in office." He really didn't know what to make of that, but figured it was pretty bad. A while later, he came back, and the conservative agenda had gone forward a bit farther, and his grandmother observed that the country hadn't been as bad shape since Taft had been in the White House.

Finally, it got so bad that she had to think back to when McKinley was president to get to times that bad. Unfortunately (fortunately?) neither David nor I lived through either the Hoover, Taft, or McKinley administrations, so we couldn't compare, but we figured they probably weren't the best of times.

Then my friend Van starts to tell the story of when his mother was in a nursing home. Apparently she was mentally pretty far gone, but they still had periodic evaluations of her situation. So, to test her mental acumen, the psychologist comes in and says "I'd like you to name your favorite five Republican presidents."

And so, even though she was pretty out of it, she snapped back to attention at this, and said "What did you say?" The guy repeats that he wants her to name her favorite five Republican presidents.

Well this just set her off, and she unleashed a potent string of expletives. (Apparently she was an enthusiastic partisan.) She had never liked a Republican in her life.

At this point, I jumped in and said, "So she started going off on them, right, saying, 'I hated them all! I hated Reagan! I hated Ford! I hated Nixon!' (naming them back to whenever she could remember) and so forth, right?" But no.

She launched into an absolutely savaging attack on GOP administrations as far back as she could remember. She not only hated them all, but could (and apparently did) list the reasons and specific policies that she did.

I was laughing my head off at the thought of an elderly lady cursing out some unsuspecting psychologist, but it got better. She didn't stop at the presidents or their policies, but also their wives. No Republican First Lady was spared, even the comparatively docile Mamie Eisenhower.

I'll bet that was the last time they used that particular test on her.

Maybe when I'm older, I'll take it a step further, to other positions:

"My favorite Republican Senate Majority Leader? You have got to be kidding! I hated Frist; I hated Trent Lott; I hated Bob Dole; and I especially hated Howard Baker."

Maybe they'll try to throw me for a curve with something more out of the ordinary:

"My favorite GOP Governor of North Dakota? I hated John Hoeven; I hated Edward Schafer; I hated Allen Olson..." Well, you get the idea.

Three cheers for feisty old ladies!

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