I was talking with an old friend of mine recently over lunch. Well, he's not old; he's my age. We've just known each other a long time.
He is a staunch conservative. He's known me since I was a staunch conservative (in the early '90s I voted for Bush Sr.). He enjoys mocking my now bleeding-heart over red meat and white wine (with an ice cube ... uggh). Let's call him ... Susan.
Susan recently gave me some inside baseball on his brand of conservative politics. They should call it inside soccer. Here's how it works.
"Have you ever watched a big-time soccer game, like a World Cup final?" he asks me, sounding oblivious to the fact that soccer is the world's most popular sport and we just watched a thrilling four weeks of professional soccer on a global stage. These guys are really professional actors trapped in the bodies of professional athletes.
I already knew where he was going with this the fine art of getting your opponent's best player charged with a dreaded red card, resulting in ejection from the game.
I've seen it many times. A glancing, unintentional blow barely noticeable to one player results in an agonizing collapse of the other player to the turf. He writhes. Squints. Cries out. Clutches his shin. Then his other shin. Peeking out through the tears, he watches the time clock count down while his colleagues lobby the referee to record the penalty.
This is what we're doing to your guy, my friend tells me. The words "my guy" are used because he can't bring himself to say "President" in front of "Obama" any more than he can enunciate the "ic" at the end of the word "Democrat" in party association.
This is not unusual. Plenty of people that I know and like warmly greet me and ask if I am happy with your president's performance. I am not particularly happy, thanks for asking, but he is OUR president, unless you're Canadian. But I digress.
Susan's on fire now: We are running out the clock on you, stopping the game, and were doing it with wedge issues we don't care about. I am trying to pretend I am not outraged. After all, it's a nice restaurant. It simply wouldn't do to make a scene, and I somewhat want him to think I am aware of the disgusting tactic.
I argue back. "It's not going to work this time," I tell him. He laughs. You guys take the bait every time. And our guys do, too. Susan is sure right about that, but for all the wrong reasons. He thinks voters are stupid. Well, we are not stupid.
Whether or not President Obama is an American citizen is not in dispute by any serious person. He is; just ask Johnny Isakson. Whether or not we should delete the 14th Amendment to strip newborn children of citizenship is not a serious issue. We shouldn't, any more than we should let them bring back slavery.
Whether or not gays or lesbians have the right to live together as husband and wife is not a serious question. They do; it is as natural a human right as any. Whether or not to build a mosque two blocks from ground zero is not a serious issue. They could build a gay immigrant mosque at the top of the Freedom Tower. You don't have to like it and you don't get to censor it. Get real. This is America. That's what freedom means!
Here's some inside baseball for you: Anyone who tries to argue these fake wedge issues as real political issues is a charlatan who wants your money and will use it to destroy the freedoms of a Constitutional America. We need to keep our eyes on the ball, people. We voters are not stupid and will not give our votes to those who treat us as such.
The president just ended the war in Iraq. We're on track to ensure the future good health of every single American and save billions in the process. We've busted Wall Street so they can no longer trick us out of our retirement money.
Now can we please get on with eradicating terrorism in Afghanistan, cleaning oil from the oceans, rebuilding our economy and finding a job for every American? Thank you!
Arturo Corso is a Gainesville attorney.