Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Nutter Bill and Me: Part II - Unexpected Correspondence, Animated Birds, Email Hell, and Confessional

Those of you who follow along regularly might have noticed that I’ve been phoning it in lately.  I’ve been posting lots of clips with very little writing.  Yeah, phoning it in is how I would describe it.  Frankly, I haven’t had the desire to write.  As a relatively new pundit, I found the month of August to be quite taxing on my optimistic view of the future.  I credit my encounter with Nutter Bill as the event that took the wind out of my sails.  Truth be told, I had no problem with the meeting itself.  No, my problem is what happened after. 

A couple of days after our meeting, I received a letter in the US Mail from none other than Nutter Bill.  Yes, he sent me personal correspondence in an envelope, complete with postage.  I have to admit, it was a little creepy.  I mean, who writes letters anymore except for lawyers.  Also, what would he have to do to find my address?  Phone book?  Who uses that anymore?!?  And, I just met this guy on the corner!  Yeah, I told him my name and where I lived, but jeez, I didn’t tell him that much! 

I took a second, decided I told him enough, that I’m not that hard to find, and read the letter.  It turned out to be very thoughtful.  I didn’t agree with all of it, but I could sense that we had a mutual respect for the other, as Americans, and that if we boil our differences down, we’d see that we weren’t that far apart. 

I wanted to write him back, but my wife, who isn’t as optimistic as I am and tends to be cautions about such things, as well as being more creeped out than I was, told me it was a bad idea.  I sat on it for a few days, finally giving way to curiosity, deciding that better angels would prevail.  My intention was not to change his mind, but to open a dialogue with somebody who didn’t see the world as I did.  Exchange ideas and shake hands when we were done.  Maybe we’d become friends, I thought, honestly debating political issues over beers.  Maybe we’d hold hands while we got matching tattoos.  Perhaps cartoon birds would land on our shoulders whistling a happy tune while the tea kettle and the toaster sang a song about the importance of friendship.

I sent him an email thanking him for his thoughtful letter.  I expressed hope that even if we were in different sides of the fence, we might be able to find the common ground we all so desperately need.  I hit send, winked to the drawn bird who was whistling while I typed, and called it a day.

The next morning, I powered my computer to find 12 emails from Nutter Bill.  The first one explained that it was going to take a while to complete the picture, but the series of emails that was to follow was to enlighten me to the socialist evils of the Obama Administration and the forces working behind the scenes to crush America as we currently know it.  All of this was followed by a link to everybody’s favorite rubber room on the internet, Free Republic!  The link took me to their version of Barack Obama’s life.  I was amused by the fact that the footnotes are not linked.  The sources at the bottom are linked, but only back to the number that accompanies the claim, not the source.  I started reading, it but after the fifth, “If-Then” type statement, I was firmly convinced it was bullshit.

I received 44 emails in three days.  Lots of stuff from Powerline  and Hot Air.  Many of the biggest conservative stars, like Glenn Beck, Michelle Malkin, Newt Gingrich, and Charles Krauthammer were there.  I received a lot of stories on Chappaquiddick, you know, because Ted Kennedy just passed.  Tons of “Obamacare” stories, which set my hair on fire because Bill would argue the standard line of keep government out of health care, but don’t touch my Medicare.  And on and on.  With the exception of some political cartoons and a couple of blonde jokes, I received all the conservative news and views I could handle.  I finally had to write him and say enough.

I explained that I knew of the people and sites he was sending me.  I told him that I couldn’t possibly refute with the truth because my proof would be deemed liberal brainwash and part of the Democratic master plan that he was trying to free me of.  I expressed frustration that while he would freely slam Obama for many of the country’s ills, many of those ills started under the previous administration, if not before.  I called him on his health care contradiction. I sent him former Reagan and Bush I employee, Bruce Bartlett’s article that appeared at the Daily Beast which argued that conservatives were blaming the wrong guy.  Finally, I expressed dismay because we were both angry, but at different things.  Frankly, I haven’t been the same sense.

What started as an optimistic attempt at bridging gaps became an exercise in futility.  I was crushed with an overwhelming sense that we will never be able to bring this country together again.  I found myself questioning truth.  I questioned my new found roll as pundit and blogger.  I mean, what difference does it make if I’m preaching to the choir?  I started wondering how those that do this for a living handle it, or, at the very least, keep going.  I suppose it would be easier if you didn’t have a position and could just relay the story.  But I do have a position.  A very strong position.  And that’s where I am today. 

I wish I had some sage Doogie Howser computer diary ending, but I don’t.  Hopefully, pouring this out will help me get my mojo back.  In the meantime, bear with me while I try to get out of this funk.  But know this, I’m down, but I’m not out.  I just need some good news for a change.

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