Saturday, June 21, 2008

Politicians' vicious streak and Obama's Jacksonville gambit

I was sitting in a hospital waiting room in Michigan, and I saw a man and woman come in and sit down near me. Maybe they are brother and sister; maybe husband and wife. They were middle aged, dressed nicely; the man wore a suit and nicely polished cowboy boots. I figured that the woman was there for treatment; the man was there for support. In the waiting area, every patient had one or two companions: a mate, friends, a granddaughter and so on.

It is the place where breast cancer patients come to check in for chemotherapy treatments. There are other cancer types going through this facility, too. The nurses and doctors take the patient's vital signs, give them a quick physical exam and then send them down to another floor for the hours of intravenous infusion: adriamycin, cytoxan, herceptin or some other tumor-fighting medicine.

So we wait.

And it is a very comfy waiting room: soft chairs, free wireless internet and even a few electrical outlets for geeks to plug in their laptops. I was the only geek present. I was working on a website, putting together this and that piece of content, "talking" to people on email and so on. I have a big deadline next week.

The man in the nicely polished cowboy shoes spoke on his cell phone for a long time. His voice was loud enough, and I was close enough that I could not help but overhear his end of the conversation. Mostly I worked on my laptop, and like many people who can concentrate in a busy place, it was as if everything else became doppler-shifted to a lower frequency, below the audible range of frequencies. But every once in a while I came up for air and caught a few sentences from this man with cowboy shoes: Vicious ripping on the mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick and some other politicians with names I cannot recall, and it was to a reporter. I know Kilpatrick is in the news, but I am not too familiar with the case, other than headlines about perjury etc.

But it is not Kilpatrick; it is this man with the nicely polished cowboy shoes who is the occasion for amazement here.

Here is a man helping someone with medical care, possibly an arduous round of chemotherapy, a true work of mercy, but that does not take him into a graceful, encouraging or compassionate attitude. Instead: viciousness. It was stunning to observe these wildly contradictory behaviors, like a Rottweiler sipping tea in Buckingham Palace seated next to Queen Elizabeth.

I am guessing the man with the nicely polished cowboy shoes is a politician of some kind.

It totally disgusted me that vicious backbiting like that is so natural for a politician that he thinks nothing of it, even in a waiting room where some seriously ill people are awaiting treatment. A regular person would maybe go down the hall to do something so incongruous, or out in the parking area or the hospital cafeteria. Politicians don't get it, though. For them, vicious backbiting is as commonplace as checking your watch or reading a book.

For the next few days, I belong to a political party, but I am going to resign and become an independent. I am not sure whether the man with the nicely polished cowboy shoes was a Democrat or Republican or Green or Socialist or what, but it does not matter to me now.

And this gets me to Barack Obama. Bad signs here in the Jacksonville newspaper. Discouraging.

Dems thrilled with Obama turnout
Florida Times-Union
Friday, June 20th, 2008
Obama told the crowd he is confident that he will win on the issues. As a result, he said, the Republican strategy will be "to make you afraid of me."

He ticked off charges that will be made against him: too young, too inexperienced, "he’s got a funny name."

Then he paused and added, "Did I mention he’s black."

I can just imagine the vicious cell phone calls going out from Democrat politicians in nicely polished cowboy shoes behind this gambit. As if being a black man means you cannot be criticized in any way and that you are always right.

Soon I will not be a party to this kind of thing.