posted by Damozel | So anyway, I was on the phone to my mama in South Carolina (who, incidentally, has made it known that she would like to be referred to as "a Southern lady.") I asked the Southern Lady, just for the record, what she--as a lifelong Republican--thought about the Republican candidates on offer.
Pause. "I'm not a Republican."
Well, she did vote for Jim Hodges (my high school friend---hi, Jimmy!) for governor of South Carolina. She loves to see a local favorite son (or daughter) succeed.
Okay then, speaking as a person who has never voted for a Democrat in a national election....?
John McCain? "I like him, but he's for the war. I'm not for the war. I won't vote for someone who is for the war."
Rudy Giuliani? "He did a wonderful job after 911, but now he's gotten too big for his britches." Translation: He's gone back to acting the way we all think New Yorkers tend to act when they think other people have to put up with it.
Mitt Romney. "Well, he looks nice, but.... I just don't know enough about Mormons or what they believe."
Fred Thompson? "Who?"
Ron Paul? "?"
Tommy Thompson? "?"
So what Republican is favored by the Southern Lady? Why, Bill Richardson.*
I got up and went to the window to see the pigs fly past and the elephants roosting in trees. I started to shiver; had Hell frozen over? Once, during the Reagan years, the Southern Lady gently shouted, "I'll vote for a Democrat for president when the moon turns blue!"
"Mom," I said, "Bill Richardson is a Democrat."
"Huh," said the Southern Lady. I suppose she was as surprised as I am. Since Gerald Ford ran for president, when I was still under my father's thumb philosophically, she and I have never agreed about politics, except (of course) when Jim Hodges was running for governor of South Carolina. And I haven't lived in South Carolina since 1977.
"Hey...I like Bill Richardson!" I told her. I was really excited. Also scared, of course. (Has the seventh seal been breached?) Then, just so I could say I had made sure, "You do know he is half Mexican, right?"
"I know it," she said coldly. "That doesn't matter. I saw him on the TV that one time. The things he said made sense to me. I liked him. Your daddy loved Mexico and Mexicans," she added, which is true. A lot of broad assumptions that people make about Southerners, especially the older ones, aren't true or are only true if you frame the context accurately.
So. See there? At least one thing Bill Richardson says about himself is demonstrably true---he can attract previously Republican voters. Of course, now the Southern Lady and I are both secretly wondering: are we backing the wrong horse? If she likes him, what's wrong with him that I don't know about?
Kidding! I have said it before and will say it again: Bill Richardson is the one candidate with the best hope of bringing the middle of the two parties together. And right at this moment in history, with so many things that need to be fixed, and need the support of the people to mend, someone with a centrist appeal is exactly what we need.
In the meantime, it's clear that W. is in the shithouse with at least one formerly reliable member of his base. "I voted for him in the last election," said the Southern Lady, "but now I think he is being a stubborn jackass." She mentioned, with pain, that she liked his daddy. I know she did, my friends: We used to yell at each other about it back in the day.
She also is starting to feel---again with pain---that maybe Dick Cheney, who she liked very much during the last Gulf War, isn't as nice as he seemed. As for Karl Rove, "I don't know anything about him. But I couldn't stand that Rumsfeld." She thinks Bush 43 ought to have followed in his daddy's footsteps. And even though when he was president I couldn't stand Bush 41, I kind of think the southern lady is right.
*Cf. Wonkette, liveblogging the last Republican debate: "Wait wait, which one is Bill Richardson???...."