I am completely inundated with a difficult and lengthy essay. Hence, here is something I wrote a while ago that is nonetheless completely apropos for these turgid political times. I have published this in a couple of spots, so if it looks familiar, you are not seeing things. Enjoy.
I worked for Scriptype Publishing for five years. They publish local monthly papers here in Northeast Ohio. During my tenure there, President George W. Bush visited two of the communities Scriptype's papers covered (October 2003 in Broadview Heights and September 2004 in Richfield). I covered both events in a professional capacity, focusing mainly on what it was like for a municipality to host the president since the papers were apolitical.
Obtaining press credentials for a presidential visit is not difficult. Dubya wants to be on the cover of the any publication, no matter how humble its circulation. And he has a whole bunch of people who make sure the fearless reporters of said publication have no troubles getting in to say hello to the nation's top dog. Once the credentials are in hand, media personnel are moved quickly to the front of the endless line to get into the event. Be rest assured, Dubya is much more concerned about a reporter or photographer getting in to see him than his adoring constituents.
(And it is a satisfying moment indeed when a tattooed, pierced black lipsticked goth chick dripping in camera equipment is escorted right past a horde of patiently waiting conservatives and bustled inside just at the doors close for good. I know. I've seen it with my own eyes.)
Both events were unremarkable to me, except for the details. The secret service staff was composed of men who were simultaneously frightening and endearing. Armed security men peered from every corner of the properties surrounding the events (that's Men With Guns On Top Of Buildings). The White House press corps had a surprisingly normal appearance. (Baseball caps, rain slickers, sloppy tennis shoes.) Then again, what did I expect? A breathless Lois Lane with a shiny pageboy furiously scribbling in a notebook?
But this post is not about covering a Presidential campaign rally, it is about the aftermath of covering a Presidential campaign rally.
It is about four boy Republicans and your faithful girl writer.
When the rally concluded on Sept. 4, 2004, I stepped out into the stifling heat and humidity with the rest of the throng, most of whom were considerably more electrified than me (being in a room with 3,000 Republicans, excited nearly to ejaculation was, however and admittedly, a singular experience). The event was held at the local high school and the entire campus was a sea of gridlocked vehicles. I sauntered back to my car, opened the windows, put on some music and closed my eyes. There was no reason to contribute my Mini to the mass of Escalades and Hummers and Mountaineers.
After about 15 minutes, the lot was still quite jammed. But it had cleared out enough for me to see four young Republicans, all wearing ties and blue shirts exactly like the ones Dubya wears. They were milling around their Ford Escort, which was unique not only because the hood was open, but also because it was one of the few cars in the internal combustive mass that had a gas mileage of over 13 miles per gallon.
The boys looked young enough that I should probably remove the "girl" portion from my cloying third person self-title of "girl writer" (but I will not). They were worriedly looking around, jamming their hands in the pockets of their Good Pants and scratching their heads. One held a pair of jumper cables.
I scanned the crowded lot with disgust, sighed a great big sigh, started the Mini and drove over to the four boy Republicans.
They swelled with hope as I approached. "You boys look like you need a jump," I said.
"Sure do," replied one (each of the four was completely indistinguishable from the others: short hair [cut special for the event], bad ties, polite demeanors).
"I'll give you a jump," I said, pulling the pug nose of the Mini up close to their Escort. I popped the hood and got out of the car to make sure they didn’t short out my electrical system.
While the Escort was charging, I decided to take advantage of the indisputable power I had over the situation (had I asked, I think they would have performed a circle jerk without hesitation).
"I want you boys to do me a favor and take a look around," I said, indicating the surrounding sea of unmoving cars, in which moneyed white people sat in the comfort of cool manufactured air. I wiped sweat from my forehead. "And now take a look at my car." They turned their collective attention to the Mini. "Given my car and the fact that I am a reporter," I held up my press pass, "you boys go ahead and take a guess. Do you think I'm a Republican?"
They looked sheepishly at the ground and at each other. "Um, probably not," said one of the boy Republicans.
"That's right," I said, "I'm not a Republican. But I'll bet you boys are Republicans. Am I right?"
They looked at their feet. They nodded.
"You're in good company. There's a whole bunch of Republicans here," I said, looking over the hazy miasma of the campus-turned parking lot. "Funny thing, though," I sighed, crossed my hands over my chest and leaned against the Mini. "All these upstanding fellow Republicans of yours and not one of them drove over here to give you good looking young boys a helping hand."
The boy Republicans did not say anything. Instead, they went about the business of disconnecting the cables and starting their Escort, which elicited visible relief in all of them.
I closed the hood of the Mini and faced the boy Republicans. "Now tell me," I said, "did you learn something today?"
They nodded. One said, "Er, yes, ma'am." with uncertainty.
"Good," I said. "That's real good. Now I want you boys to remember exactly what you learned today and think hard about it when you go and cast your vote for the President of the United States. Can you do that for me?"
The boy Republicans indicated that they would.
I nodded and smiled, pausing for an uncomfortable moment to look each of them directly in the eye. "Well you go on now and have yourselves a good day."
They thanked me copiously as I got in my car and drove to the end of one of the lines, which were moving a bit faster by then.
Okay, so the Antichrist won anyway, but, hey, I tried.