Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Snatches from the Pink Snapper — 4
Warning: There is some politically incorrect language in this post. It is, however, the way real people talk.
As I remarked the other day, I'm finding it extraordinarily difficult to write. There are so many matters of consequence and so little recognition of them in the media that it's hard to bring a single topic into focus. But after last night, after watching for a full three minutes George Bush in heavy makeup deliver his hoped-to-be-final State of the Union speech, I feel better somehow. Maybe it was the exercise I got from kicking the TV set.
The Democratic primaries are certainly interesting in the way Clinton and Obama are pitting the women's movement against the civil rights movement, whether by intention or not. The Pentagon is on a tear—to which no one is paying the slightest attention. And the only reason we haven't heard reports of bankers leaping from their office windows is that the windows have been sealed. It was a safety precaution taken after 1929.
Given this flurry of events, I thought I'd let the denizens of the Pink Snapper pick today's topic for me—and it turns out to be the elections. Or, as we say at the Snapper, the election.
Now don't get me wrong. This is not a matter weighing heavily on the collective Snapper consciousness. The topic may have come up only because there's gossip going round that I'm "political"—a "librul," or maybe something worse—but come up it does.
The Snapper focus group
Last night on the NewsHour Judy Woodruff interviewed a panel of New Jersey residents to get their views on health care, the economy, terrorism and the election. There was a doctor, a medical-supplies salesman, a sick man who'd lost his job, an Hispanic woman with a Jewish surname, a female defense contractor with an Arabic surname, and—well, you get the gist. This assemblage was represented to the television audience as a group with a "cross-section" of views.
Somehow the working and drinking classes never seem to be included in these panels, which is amazing when you consider what a large segment of the populace that excludes. (The Republicans and Bill Clinton know better.) So think of this post as a supplement to the NewsHour panel's opinions, based on a focus group assembled at the Pink Snapper.
Over a month ago Verl asked me which candidate I was planning to support, and I told him I thought John Edwards was about the best we could do under the circumstances. "Edwards?" He considered for a moment and shook his head. "Nope. I'm sorry but I don't think I can go that way." He said it as though I'd just made a sexual proposition. "What don't you like about him?" I asked. "I don't know—I just don't think much of him."
Verl was decidedly undecided and will probably remain that way until that moment in the voting booth when he's seized by either inspiration or exhaustion and colors in a circle with his machine-readable pencil—or just decides to leave it blank.
A few weeks later "Peanut" sidled up to me and attempted a jibe. "So, Handy. It looks like we've got a choice between a bitch and a nigger. Who're you gonna vote for?" I looked him steadily in the eye and said, "Well, if it comes to that I'll take the nigger. Are you planning to vote, Peanut?" "Probably not," he said, somewhat disconsolate.
And recently I had an interesting bit of conversation with Hill Williams.
HILL: Handy, did you hear what the Reverend Al Sharpton said about Barack Obama?
ME: No. What did he say?
HILL: Well, he says Obama's not nigger enough for him.1
Now if you're from the Nawth you might misunderstand this bit of dialog and take it as terribly racist. But it was meant to be quite the opposite. Hill views Al Sharpton as the racist and made the remark by way of approving Obama. He intends to vote for him.
So there you have it—a "cross-section" of views from the Pink Snapper, at least from the male angle. The ladies tend to be a bit more reticent—unless of course you ask them, in which case there's no dearth of opinion. I'll try to provide some coverage from the women's angle in the days ahead.
Can anything be concluded from this small sample? Probably not. But why should that stop us? It never seems to bother the pundits.
- Despite the ceaseless patter on television, the election hasn't quite come into focus for many in the Snapper. They may decide who they're supporting the week before, or the day before—or even at the polls.
- The Snapper is by and large a socially libertarian place but includes many who've voted Republican somewhere in their sordid pasts. So it's interesting that the comments have focused on the Democrats. To the extent the race is holding anyone's attention, it's the Democrats who are holding it. I haven't heard a word about Giuliani or Romney or McCain or even that Southern white boy Huckabee. Ron Paul's name came up once, by way of approving his position on drug legalization, but that's about it. This bodes well for the Democrats.
- If Obama wins the primaries there's no doubt that race will play a big role in the outcome of the general election—maybe a decisive one. The good news for Obama is that Southern whites don't like to think of themselves as racist and will sometimes go to extraordinary lengths to prove they aren't. The bad news is that many of them in fact are. Which of those conflicting impulses would dominate in the general election I'm loath to say. But I do believe (speaking for the South) that if Obama wins the Democratic nomination, the best thing that could happen to him is for the Republicans to attempt to play the "race card." If Southerners are going to vote along racial lines, they certainly don't want it mentioned.
Well, there you have it—the ebb and flow of political opinion through a misty Southern lens. But, honestly, I don't know how anyone can claim to be on the left and not know what people in the Pink Snapper are saying.
In November 2004 I watched the election returns at the Snapper. It was an unforgettable moment. The jukebox was blaring, the beer was flowing, all the pool tables were taken and it looked as if Kerry was going to carry the election. Then a woman we hadn't seen before (or since) staggered in, hung over the end of the bar and began to yell "Lesbians for [bʊʃ]!"
I have to write it phonetically, because to this day no one knows for sure whether she was yelling "Lesbians for Bush!" or "Lesbians for bush!" Whatever she had on her mind, it seemed to turn the tide of the election.