Lee Wochner: Writer. Director. Writing instructor. Thinker about things.


The Democratic economy (and other airport-waiting thoughts)

Last night I went to a presidential debate-watching party at Picanha Churrascaria hosted by the Burbank Democratic Club. I got there about 15 minutes late and found a packed room — the club had turned out about 80 people to eat, drink, and shout merry whenever Obama scored a point. After the debate when I gave a few remarks, I couldn’t help noting that the turnout proved once again that Democrats are good for business and good for the economy.

The restaurant is a Churrascaria, or Brazilian barbecue, where servers bring endless servings of meat until finally you are dragged off to be processed as Soylent Green. When my wife found out a few days previously where this event was being held, she asked me if I was going to wear sweatpants. I didn’t think I owned sweatpants (which I don’t), which led her to remind me that we have a friend who, before we dined at a churrascaria in San Diego a few years ago, purposely donned a pair of green sweatpants so he could really fill up on meat. I don’t know about him, but I know that by the time we left I was dizzy I was so overinjected with bovine growth hormone.

(The guy behind me here at the airport has been trying to work some real-estate deal over his cellphone while marching around giving his wife lunch orders and complaining to me about TSA. He’s been on the phone so many times and so long, I think the property’s lost another 20% in value. And we taxpayers probably now own it. I hope it has a pool and a walk-in humidor.)

This  morning on NPR I heard an interview with an undecided voter. I know, I know; you’re asking:  “Who could possibly be undecided at this point? What would it take?” Because that’s what I’ve been wondering. But this woman was very thoughtful, and what she said surprised me greatly. First she went on about abortion — and I was sure I knew what was coming. Instead, she said that she learned in the debate that what she’d been told about Senator Obama was wrong:  that he’s not in favor of late-term abortions. So, much as you and I would mock these dreary debates, they’ve swayed the opinion of at least one voter. Then the interviewer asked this woman whom she would vote for, and after listening to her cultural conservatism (she had also said that abortion should be a states-rights issue, echoing McCain) I was sure of her answer because I couldn’t believe she actually had been undecided — but she answered,  “Obama.” And here’s why:  She said that McCain was so visibly angry throughout the debate — so scrunched up and churlish — that she could imagine how he would deal with people around the world the next four years, and she didn’t like what she was imagining. “If you can’t get along with someone from your own country — an American — in the same room with you, how are you going to work with the rest of the world?” Exactly right. Which makes me wonder where she and her compatriots were in 2004. Maybe they just needed to feel a whole lot more personal economic pain.

Okay, the guy on his cellphone just snapped the phone off, jumped up, and threw his hands over his face. I guess we’re not going to be smoking cigars by the pool in that villa outside Palm Springs. But wait… he’s making another call. Who knows what could happen? And isn’t that a little metaphor for the economy right now?

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