Opinion » Bill Cope

From Under Our Noses

The stolen certainty of what we are

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"A liberal is just someone who hasn't been mugged yet."

--something conservatives used to say to justify themselves, but I don't know who said it first or when it was first said. All I know is, they thought it was funny. Ha ha.

A week before Scooter's indictments came down, I was asked by a conservative friend if there was any single thing she could say that might change my liberal ways and set me on the right path--the "right path" being, in the context of the conversation, support for the Bush Doctrine in Iraq. (Sounds funny, doesn't it? ... the "Bush Doctrine." As though what was happening over there was the result of a thoughtful and informed process? The "Bush Doctrine." Gad, that's like saying "The Genius of Paris Hilton" or "The Musical Stylings of John Ashcroft.")

Anyway, I had just finished up my weekly bowling and decided a $2.75 Zinfandel from the bowling alley bar would do quite nicely before my trip home. Not two. Certainly, not two or three more Zins or anything else alcoholic, because I take my moderation seriously when I'm driving. It's not a matter of being a liberal or a conservative, is it? Yes, I support the right of an individual to screw himself up in whatever manner he chooses, and that is unmistakably a liberal position, yes? But I also support society's right to protect its members from screwed-up people, which is what conservatives think liberals think, but is actually quite a conservative sentiment, when you think about it.

And when I chose to obey society's law and not drive home stinko, thereby eliminating myself as the potential smasher of a car-load of innocent bystanders, what's that make me? A conservative or a liberal? All I can say is, the smashing of innocent bystanders shouldn't even be up for political consideration.

Contributing to my caution, I was driving a car I was not thoroughly comfortable with, as my comfortable old truck was stolen just four days prior. Stolen! Driven off in the middle of the night by person or persons unknown without my permission. And it wasn't the first time. If you remember back a year, the same pickup was driven off in the middle of the night and for the same two reasons: 1) stupid Bill had left my stupid keys in the ignition, and 2) some black-souled, amoral, hillbilly sack of inbred, sub-human crap took advantage of that sad fact in order to get himself a ride in a stolen truck.

Fortunately, the first time my truck was stolen, the black-souled, amoral, hillbilly sack of inbred, sub-human crap brought it back. Unfortunately, on this most recent occasion, he didn't. (I am assuming the same sack of crap took it both times, but I am aware there is more than one sack of crap around. Even in Meridian.)

So there I was, as you can imagine, preoccupied, pretty depressed and enjoying my last cheap wine of the evening. I was missing my truck. It was my dad's truck before it was mine. My daughter grew up in that truck. I always felt at home in that truck. Sort of warm. Sort of fuzzy. I will never own a vehicle again with quite that snug a fit.

Plus, I was having not so very warm and fuzzy fantasies about what I would delight in doing to the black-souled, amoral, hillbilly sack of inbred, sub-human crap should I ever have the opportunity. Very illiberal things, indeed. Things that, were my fantasies to become manifest, would make me a straight A, over-achiever even in an Abu Ghraib interrogation room.

Nope, I was having not even a single, traditionally liberal opinion as to what that truck thief deserved. It would not have mattered if he was an under-privileged member of a besieged minority, a deprived gay, a confused youth, an endangered species, or even a she, working two jobs to support her children. I was relishing the idea of getting, in the words of Marsellus Wallace, "medieval on his ass."

And along comes this friend, who I know for a fact had never voted in her life before four years ago and who has been paying attention to politics only since then, and she asks me what one thing she could say that might turn me into a supporter--like herself--of the George Bush Doctrine.

My first thought was reflexive. "I have spent 40 years watching politics, analyzing politics, arguing politics and coming to my own understanding of politics ... and she thinks that she can waltz in and turn me around like a turtle on a treadmill?"

Then I thought about my truck. My poor, innocent, gone truck. Something clicked. Born again! I threw my hands up and proclaimed for all to hear, "Ya' got me! Finally, I see where you're coming from! Bush is right! The war is right! I see it now ... a few little lies to get us into a noble war? ... It's worth every lie! Every dollar! Every innocent bystander! Every dead soldier! I'm a conservative now! Just like you! And it's all because I was mugged!"

Ha, ha. Just kidding.

In truth, I answered, "There's not a thing you could say that would change my opinion of that stinking war. Nothing. Give up. You're wasting your time and mine. I won't even consider the possibility that Bush did right by getting us into it and I won't even consider the possibility that it was all worthwhile as long as something good results from it."

"Then you're not a liberal," she accused. "How can you call yourself a liberal when you won't even consider the other side? Liberals are supposed to consider all sides."

"Then call me a conservative. Call me whatever the hell you want, but it won't change the fact that Bush's gang used lies, deception and coercion to get us into a war, and neither liberals or conservatives should be on the side of lies, deception and coercion. For any reason, let alone a war. It shouldn't even be up for consideration."

"You can't prove they were lying."

Nothing changed. I left, drove home, didn't smash into any innocent bystanders, and remained firmly whatever I am in regards to the Bush Doctrine. She ended the evening just as perplexed about what liberals are as when she started. As I maneuvered the uncomfortable car home, I had one liberal thought concerning the sack of crap who stole my pickup: "Well ... at least what he did isn't getting people killed."

Soon after, Scooter's indictments came down. Now it begins. Now we can prove they were lying. Now it will all come out. The truth about the lies.

Then, I suspect, we will see how liberal conservatives can be when it's one of their own who mugged 'em. Ha, ha.

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