Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Four boy Republicans

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.


The Phoenix said...

It was a nice try, but the young guys still voted for Wubba, I bet.

"excited nearly to ejaculation..."
--ok, that was priceless.

Sar said...

Erin, you rock! *bowing in admiration*

FLAMINGO1 said...

Although I am not a donkey rider, I went to see Geraldine Ferraro give a speech when she was running for VP with Walter Mondale. That was as close as I have ever come to seeing the President of the U.S. in person. I have to say that I would be pretty excited to meet the President regardless of who it was. Fortunately the last couple of Presidents have not completely soiled the prestige of that office - though they have tried!

Clinton is and was a pig and a criminal.

Bush is a pig, and idiot and a criminal.

But I would still be excited to near ejaculation to meet them. I guess that is my small town, Iowa background.

nicole said...


But this was a joy to read, as usual. :)

And I'm SO GLAD that you pointed out the painfully obvious to these young rubes-in-training: that if you keep voting Republican, you can look forward to a lifetime of dead batteries.

PDD said...

I would have made them fetch their candy; a grenade. You had your chance, Erin. I would have bailed you out. Oh, wait, my salary couldn't afford it.

Very proud of your balls though.

Melanhead said...

Just wanted to drop by the ol' comment box to leave an Off-Topic response: I put in some votes for you, Erin, at the 2006 Bloggies Award site. Good luck!

Hal said...

I met Bill Clinton in Seattle during the 1992 campaign. Actually, I just shook his hand. He nearly crushed it, and I have big hands. It was still cool.

Ms Baroque said...

I'll say - I think you published it over on mine once!

Great work every time, though, Erin.

Anonymous said...

I met Al Gore post stolen election, pre- Nobel Prize. I remained flaccid. I once shook Muhammed Ali's hand....shhwinnngggg! But, if I get to finish my bucket list, I will have spit on Dick Cheney. Happy Ending!!!!!


Doug said...

"Now tell me," I said, "did you learn something today?"

They nodded. One said, "Er, yes, ma'am." with uncertainty. "I learned that as long as there are Democrats in this country, us Republicans can fuck up all we want and y'all will be there to pick up after us."

Sorry, couldn't resist . . .

Anonymous said...

Hmmm .. what did we learn?

Republicans are the font of everything wrong in the world. Never mind that the Democratically controlled congress has been in power since 2006.

Republicans don't know how to flag someone down for a jump. They also don't carry jumper cables in their cars.

The inability of fellow Republicans to come to their aid in a parking lot when their car won't start is inexplicably tied to how they will vote in a presidential election.

Republicans drive a lot of gas guzzlers (I'd love to learn what the Hollywood types drive - I suspect a lot of SUVs and gas guzzling sports cars would be discovered, but I could be wrong).

Erin's not going to vote for McCain.

Democrats are more environmentally conscious, whatever that means, because they drive a Mini or some simlilar small car.

Democrats know better than anyone else - just ask them.

Republicans wear blue shirts. And that's all they wear in adulation of G.W. Bush.

Republicans jerk off to political candidates (well, so do Democrats when you go back to the "do you wear briefs or boxers" inanity on MTV when Bill "I did not have sex with that woman" Clinton appeared on MTV - the crowd was damn near literally creaming their jeans).

Republicans, especially four young ones in ties and shirts are stupid. I mean, who doesn't know what to do when your car won't start?

Erin O'Brien said...

Anon: I don't quite understand your comments, but make no mistake: the kids were milling around their car, the hood of which was open, for several minutes. One was holding a pair of jumper cables.

Pray tell, does that not constitute a call for assistance in RepublicanLand? Do you suppose the other Republicans assumed the young dandies just wanted to display their internal combustion engine and cables?

And another note: I talked to a different group of Young Republicans before heading to the lot--a group of high school students and ardent Bush supporters. They also voiced support of the war.

The did not, however, support the return of the draft, nor did any of them plan to enlist in the Armed Services.

Anonymous said...

The other Republicans just thought the young guys were reminding them that with a battery and some jumper cables one can torture.


Anonymous said...

I can only surmise that they didn't know how to use jumper cables, hence their standing around holding them.

As politics and car repair are two different things, I don't think the inability of four young Republicans to use said cables constitutes an emergency in Republican-land. Apples and oranges here.

As far as the draft goes, the sons and daughters of many politicians, on both sides of the aisle are not serving, save John McCain's son, who is a Marine. My guess is most of the younger generation, regardless of political affiliation is not eager to sign up for the military these days, for any number of reasons. If we we really want balance here, I suggest attendance at a Hillary or Obama rally, and ask the same demographic whether they support a draft, or whether they plan to enlist. My guess is the result would be same as was with these young Republicans.

And Republicans don't need jumper cables to torture someone. All they need is a Democratic administration for for years.

Erin O'Brien said...

I am thinking, Anon, that you have not read the entire essay.

Every other vehicle in the massive sea of them that day drove by these four kids who were clearly in need of a simple jump.

Yes, they knew how to use the cables and did so admirably when I pulled up and popped open my hood. That was the irony: not one of those thousands of Republicans stopped to help those kids.

It took a dyed-in-the-wool Democrat to do that. And believe me, the crown was 99.9% Republican and 0.1% Democrat, most of whom were members of the press.

The moral of the story is this: if you are surrounded by Republicans, all of whom are in competently running vehicles with fully charged batteries, don't count on one of the effers to help you out if you need a simple jump.

That said, if I am able, Mr. Anonymous, I promise to stop and give you a jump should you need one no matter who you're voting for. Furthermore, I expect you to do the same should you run across a Democratic lass in the same sort of pickle as the Four Boy Republicans.

Anonymous said...

I basically give a jump to whoever needs it when possible/necesary. I don't ask their political affiliation before or afterwards. Not important to me in that context.

Next time I need a jump, I will have a sign available which will read "hey, I need a jump! Only dyed-in-the-wool-Democrats-need-apply!" My guess is it will take a bit longer to get a jump, but in the end I hope I get one.

Jarvis Rockhall said...

I could be completely wrong here, but for some reason I get the impression that you guys don't expect politicians to ultimately let you down.

Its almost as if you haven't realised that all politicians, regardless of their brand affiliation, are inept, lawyers who are just trying to gain prestige and power.

On a side note, I keep hearing Republicans saying Reagan was the best Prez ever, but I fail to see how that's an achievement when you consider the recent competition is Bush Jr, Clinton and Bush Sr.