diet coke for breakfast

Monday, March 08, 2004

Posted by Tanstaafl
I sent this to James Lileks this morning:

Mr. Lileks,

I'm a newcomer to your site. I've been reading the Bleat for a few months now and thoroughly enjoy the mix of stories about Gnat, slices of life from Minnesota, political commentary, and just plain common sense.

I finally decided to write to you this morning because I was in Minnesota for the first time this weekend and had a wonderful time. I now have a better idea of your love of the state. I attended a wedding of two good friends in St. Paul at the Landmark Center... which I believe is one of the old buildings that you probably love ( It was an old courthouse that's now a museum and event venue. It had a big vault of a room in the center with several floors of open hallways all around and was an unbelievable setting for both the wedding and the reception.

I also wanted to share a story that I hope is not representative of your state, but was a bit of a new experience for me. I grew up in Connecticut and went to college from 1998-2002 at Stanford, so I have had more than a few conversations with liberals who believe that because I would vote for President Bush that I must club baby seals on the weekend and carry a Bible around in my back pocket so that I can throw it at people who aren't wearing enough clothing... or something like that. Of course this isn't true, and at school they were always quite surprised when it turned out that my conservative positions are not born out of racism or religious fanaticism, but instead are usually direct results of an economic and rights-based ideology. And, over the years, I've become fairly good at explaining my positions to liberals in a way that calms them down, and at least makes them understand my point of view.

On Saturday, I wasn't even going to try. My friend and I, not being part of the wedding party and therefore not part of any preparations, decided to go see the Mall of America. Since the city bus drivers were on strike, it was a cab for us. They cabbie, who was by far more friendly than your average NYC cab driver, started chatting us up right away... "where are you from?... what do you do? etc." When my friend and I told him that we work at !@#$%, he informed us (which was news to me) that was at the top of Lou Dobbs' list of bad-guy outsourcers. I responded that I was unaware of Mr. Dobbs' problem with , but that as a student of Economics, my belief is that outsourcing is not as harmful to the US economy as recent political rhetoric would have you believe. Unfortunately, this set him off. He launched into a tirade about how when people are losing their jobs, then that's harmful to the economy. I tried to respond that NAFTA had actually created jobs in the US, and that free trade is a good thing for our Economy. He would have none of it... his response was that he felt that we've tried NAFTA and free-trade long enough, and "now look where we are, maybe we should try it the other way for a change." It was at this point that he launched into a tirade about how arrogant our President is and had choice "observations" about President Bush that are too crude to repeat. I responded that I could defend the President against any of his specific objections and that you'd find no argument from me. That's not to say that I agreed with him, especially on things like his accusation that the President was a deserter. Luckily I was able to turn our conversation to less charged topics, and we had an otherwise pleasant cab ride.

I only repeat this because it doesn't speak well for President Bush's chances this fall. I recognize that this man was not a mainstream individual (he said the only reason he wasn't voting for Nader this time around was that when he did in 2000, he handed Bush the election), but his entire side of the discussion was made up of platitudes and sound-bites from the Democratic candidates. I'm worried that regardless of the policy our ideological merits of either side of the race, the Democrats have controlled the debate for too long. Bush finally starts campaigning and, right away he gets bogged down in a debate, about his ads themselves. If the White House doesn't find its voice, this election may be a disappointing defeat for the Republicans.

Anyway, I realize you're a pretty busy guy and have columns to write or My Little Ponies to assemble, but I thought that you might enjoy hearing from someone who considers himself a fan of your site. Some friends and I have our own little modest attempt at contributing to the blogosphere that you should feel free to check out: I understand that you probably get flooded with email and don't have time to read one this long, let alone respond. That being said, please keep up the good work.


Brian --Well written. Hope the wedding went well. Keep any eye on my Running for the Right, I'm going to try and post a response to your Bush worries either sometime today or tomorrow.


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