Had the pleasure of driving from northern Virginia to Rhode Island in late July. Observed scads of Obama bumperstickers; maybe 2-3 for McCain over the entire week (and this included treks on the Merritt Parkway through affluent Stamford and Greenwich, as well as the Palisades Parkway).
*** Purpose of trip was visiting family friends, fellow USMC brats who are about 10-12 years older and who lived abroad when their dad served in China in the late 1950s. (Youngest daughter learned to speak Chinese before English.) Their dad was a genuine war hero, with service at Tarawa, a particularly gruesome WWII Pacific battle that he was lucky to survive. Ken Burns included footage of soldiers from the battle; daughters have copy of the footage and Burns cut away seconds before their dad appeared. During the war, their mother saw the full newsreel with footage of her husband while out at the movies one night; it was the only way she knew he was recently alive. The family has kept the colonel’s letters from the Pacific campaign; several were redacted by wartime censors.
The daughters are staunch military supporters and participate frequently in USMC reunions and other functions on behalf of their late father.
Parked my car with its Obama stickers under their tree and decided not to bring up politics, since took my hosts for McCain’s natural base. (I thought they would probably view my travels and volunteering for Obama with amusement or polite concern.)
McCain supporters? Not a one. One daughter’s husband — recently retired from 30 years as professor at a military academy — said he was a longtime Republican and hoped the GOP lost big so they could lose “the crazies” who have taken over his party. His wife had brought a supply of cute cups I’d not seen yet — frosted plastic “Obama 2008” with a little donkey on them. (Think she obtained them online for a party (!) she’d thrown at her house.)
Day it was launched, I played the McCain “celebrity” ad for my hostess from the laptop; she said that she mostly heard “Obama Obama Obama” from the ad, nothing about McCain and she didn’t think it was very effective.
My host was the only one possibly supporting McCain — he’d voted for Bush in 2000, is concerned about taxes and welfare issues. I would put him at even odds for not voting at all. He is not enthusiastic about either candidate. He is troubled by his choice.
The daughters’ adult children are predominantly Obama supporters, with one reporting that her husband was trying to convince her that McCain is not actually a Republican.
*** Dinner on the way home: for last leg, beginning in Maryland, took a scenic route down the Eastern Shore through colonial era towns set among abundant fields of corn and other crops while listening to Randy Pausch’s Last Lecture CD. Sun was setting when I pulled off the road to dine at a waterside restaurant known for its seafood. Was photographing sunset across the water and enjoying my one glass of pinot grigio when woman dining alone at next table started talking to me.
“Allison” was charming; 48 but I’d guessed she was in her 30s. (Slender, long blonde hair, Philip Johnson/Leon Trotsky eye glasses that looked really stylish on her; I’d assumed she was a writer or artist or something by her dress and demeanor.) She is married to a Naval Academy graduate who’s now a business executive; she teaches high school. To “what do you do?” I responded that I was volunteering for Obama; she found that interesting. She’s a self-described conservative married to an even more conservative man; neither is enthused about McCain. They didn’t like anyone who ran this year; she wouldn’t say who she would prefer to support and I did not follow up on who her political heroes are.
She’s not inclined to vote for Obama at this time — she said she’d be more enthusiastic about voting for him 4 or 8 years from now (where have we heard THAT before?), but it appeared she’d been observing him closely even while absorbing GOP talking points. She had more reservations about Michelle — asked me flat out what I thought of Michelle. (I murmured that she appears to be a great mother and wouldn’t it be awful for any of us to be in the spotlight 24/7?)
FWIW, she also does not like Hillary Clinton, and sees Bill as a problem. (I don’t, but that seems to put me in minority.) She volunteered that she was horrified by Clinton’s impeachment; that he was “an idiot” with a 21 year old woman (recall, she teaches girls slightly younger) but that the GOP went way too far.
“Allison” said she has called herself an Independent ever since the impeachment. That was too much for her.
“Allison” is deeply concerned about McCain’s fitness for office. She feels he is a “hothead” who is going to make our problems worse in overreacting (believe she meant overseas). She thinks he would have been a better president in 2000, but his time has passed. (This is my view as well.)
In response to various questions, I told “Allison” that, in my personal experience, lots of moderate GOP are working on behalf of Obama and that I personally feel he’s going to be a centrist; that anyone who expects him to be a liberal is going to be disappointed; that he’s going to be constrained by a terrible set of circumstances on what he can do, but that he is serious “as a heart attack” about bringing a polarized country together.
“Allison” does not like GW Bush either; told me she and her husband disbelieved their friends in 2000 who swore GW Bush was the next great thing. Not sure she voted for Bush in 2004.
She has no guess on who Obama’s VP will be, and no dog in the fight there. She thinks Obama will pick a woman.
She thanked me for “giving me something to think about” (her words); I’d guess she might still vote for McCain but not without reservations. Really nice woman who enjoys sunsets as much as I do. Enjoyed talking to her. Wish I got to her neck of the woods more often.
The seafood dinner was splendid.
And ready to go on another roadtrip the moment a purpose materializes! Live for roadtrips.