Sunday, October 12, 2008

Fear and Loathing on North Santa Cruz Blvd.

Yesterday, we were walking along the main drag through Los Gatos, North Santa Cruz Ave., when we spotted a woman with a sign reading:

Obama = ACORN
McCain - Palin

While I bit my tongue, Leslie calmly started in on her with, "Where do you get your information?"

"I read," the woman answered.

"Read what?" Leslie countered.

"A lot, you should read too." (A slightly better answer than Sarah Palin gave to Katy Couric.)

I asked, "Don't you think this charge of socialism is a little inflamatory?" She didn't want to talk about socialism just yet, she wanted to talk about ACORN.

"He was an organizer for ACORN!" (Fact: Obama was an organizer for Project Vote in 1992-93, not ACORN. Project Vote is currently a partner with ACORN on one project, but that partnership came about years later. This woman didn't care to hear that, she reads, after all.)

"What you're doing is guilt by association. Why don't you have a sign saying something positive about your candidate instead of smearing Obama with these outrageous claims?" I politely suggested (well, as polite as I could muster being as angry as I was; the result of over-caffeination from some yummy French Roast earlier that morning).

"I'm an independent," was her reason for not saying something positive about McCain.

"OK... I'm an independent too," I offered, "and part of the reason for that is because of dirty campaigning like this." We go around again about guilt by association, and a few other things, each time she refuses to answer direct questions, or answers with an absurd question or suggestion to me. Somewhere along the way, Leslie has given up getting a word in once I'd started, and has crossed the street ahead of me.

Again, I tried to ask her why she wasn't out promoting her candidate. This time I tried to give her something nice to say, "Why don't you have a sign saying 'McCain = Leadership' or 'He's a hero' or 'Independent for McCain'?"

This time she didn't even give me her independent line, this time she changed the topic to the mortgage crisis and implied that Obama was responsible for it.

I was shocked, as I didn't get her reference to the false rumor that the current crisis is because Obama and ACORN each worked to force banks to make loans to poor minorities. (In real life, ACORN and Obama have each fought against redlining practices to make sure banks treated similarly qualified applicants equally, regardless of color).

But since I didn't catch her veiled reference to a proven lie, I instead answered, "Neither one of these guys is directly responsible for the current crisis, but if either one of them is to share in the blame, it's McCain, who's been a Reaganite de-regulator for 26 years, and it's de-regulation and the lack of oversight and enforcement that's lead to this meltdown."

Then I went too far for her: "McCain was part of the Keating Five, after all!"

"Ah ha!," I made her happy, apparently. "Talk about guilt by association!" She finally actually responded directly to something I said, but it was again far from reality.

"What 'guilt by association'? He was one of the five! He was..." she didn't let me finish.

"Have you ever lived in a socialist country?" she asked me.

"What has that got to do with..."

"They're trying to steal the election! ACORN is registering fake people and they're stealing the election!" I tried to bring up 2000 and 2004 as examples of stolen elections, but she was done with that topic. "They're against us!" she cried.

"Against who?"

"Against us! ACORN is against Americans!"

"Because... why? Because they represent poor people or..." before I could ask if it's because they represent minorities she's cut me off and is onto another subject. Out of the corner of my eye I see the light has changed and I have the walk signal I'd been waiting for (and missed the last two or three cycles).

This time I cut her off, "Sorry, I've got to get back to the real world. Have a nice day."

Walking back a few minutes later, we noticed that she'd moved on. Leslie was concerned for a moment that I was too rough on her, and scared her from voicing her opinion, but I'm sure she just moved on to a busier intersection someplace else.

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