I must start off this column by admitting that I am not feeling my normal, jovial self. Not physically, mind you (my Asian assistant, Feng Guan, engages me in physical combat daily in order to keep me on my toes), but emotionally. My son, John, forced me to visit the Democratic National Convention. John and I have always had a difficult relationship, but this convention seems to be the breaking point.
It should not surprise you that I am a life-long Republican. A man must have his friends everywhere, however, even if it requires a “generous donation” to a certain, shall I say, queer and potentially corrupt Massachusetts fellow? Business requires making appearances, and since John was attending of his own volition, I came along too.
The convention started on an already sour note, with the first major speech given by Barack Obama’s wife. I understand times have changed, but I miss the days when a first lady was expected to do little except smile and ignore the extramarital conduct her husband engaged in. The Democrats of old knew this. Jackie Kennedy was the consummate lady, and Eleanor Roosevelt was even known to lift women up onto FDR’s wheelchair herself.
Now, I am not intending any offense against Mrs. Obama. I come from a long line of progressives: My father Washington was one of the first to oppose miscegenation laws, an advocacy he undertook on behalf of our dear servant Lucinda, his lifelong handmaid, and her bastard, mixed-race child Jackson.
Jackson never knew his father, but Washington felt for his plight as a technically illegal child and had always looked rather kindly on Lucinda. All I mean to say through that lengthy history lesson is this: I support the dark race, and I hold no sexist grudges. But allowing a woman to speak about politics in public is something I simply cannot abide by.
The worst part, of course, came later. All the democrats—Clinton, Obama, even that lovable scamp Biden—spoke of increased government programs. Of course, an educated man knows what that means: more transfers of wealth from job creators to the idle underclass.
That’s not the real tragedy: I think I’ve made my views clear on those issues. What’s truly sad is that these policies are causing a rift between John, my tragically leftist son, and myself. When I remarked that Medicaid was merely designed to “compensate for the wildly unhealthy life decisions made by those ethnic minorities,” he seemed to get mad at me.
“Dad,” he replied, looking out on Time Warner Arena. “You know I love you, even if we disagree politically. But I have to say, your views aren’t merely wrong, they’re immoral. You couch your hatred in an old-timey form of speech, so most people aren’t as viscerally turned off by it, but that doesn’t make it any less problematic.
“You say these things, these wildly offensive things that, coming from a younger person, would inspire a huge outcry. But instead, because no one wants to read closely into what lies behind an anachronistic vocabulary, nothing is said. It’s just viewed as the weird, bizarre ramblings of an old man.
“It’s ridiculous, Dad, because you actually have a tremendous amount of power. You, and elderly people like you, are in charge of most of this nation’s institutions. You make decisions that affect the lives of the ‘underclass,’ which really means minorities, you rant about all the time: They can’t get jobs if businessmen like you aren’t hiring anyone. Are you hearing me, Dad?”
Suffice it to say, I was angry and hurt. I love my son like a son, but I knew not what to say to him. I feel as though I chose my words unfortunately.
“Well, son, at least I’m not the one who elected a black president. How’s that for direct?”
He hasn’t said another word to me since.
The Grumpy Trustee apologizes for defaming Eleanor Roosevelt, his first true love, in this column.