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September 14, 2008

The "Beer Factor" (Kat-Mo)

In 2004, besides Bush's "security moms" and the "evangelicals", one of the touted reasons for Bush's win in the election was what I like to call "the beer factor".

The "beer factor" is that certain something that tells the electorate that, yeah, actually, they could feel comfortable to a sit down, drink a beer and shoot the breeze with the candidate. They could talk to him (or her) and he (or she) would be interested in what they had to say. More importantly, since the candidate was "like them", they believed he or she would govern like the electorate would want.

Bush had the "good ol' boy" thing going on. If you invited him to beer and barbecue, you'd expect him to spend his time telling stupid stories about this one time he and some other fellas went huntin' and ol' what's his name tripped over a pile of cow crap and nearly blew Dick Cheney's big toe off. They ended up scaring all the game away, driving into town, ordering a steak and drinking beer. Then he'd take another swig of beer and laugh like that story was still funny fifty times later.

Of course, he had that endearing way of saying "new-kew-lar" that everyone had a good laugh at including Bush.

McCain has been lagging a bit in that area and Obama is starting to feel what it's like to be last year's news at the family barbecue. Palin has re-injected the "beer factor" by a factor of 10 into the election.

So, if we had a barbecue today, what would our candidates look like?


"Uncle John" McCain: He's that slightly cranky uncle that gets invited to all the family barbecues. "Uncle John" drinks Budweiser. Out of can. He likes to tell his war stories. Over and over and over. Everybody loves him, but nobody wants to get stuck sitting next to him at the table. Some of the family gets uncomfortable when he gets cranky, but you nearly shoot your beer out of your nose when you hear him tell "Uncle Harry" "go f*ck yourself!"

Yeah, sometimes, "Uncle John" is a pretty cool guy. Besides, he did marry "Aunt Cindy" with all those bucks who ain't too shabby for an older lady.

Psuedo-Professor, Professional Community Organizer Obama, MA, BS: Yeah, he's just that ostentatious when your star struck sister introduces him. You have no idea if he has any other name because she's always going on about "Obama this" and "Obama that" for the last year. You hardly know the guy and he already pisses you off just hearing his name.

Your sister brought him home to "meet the family" because she was sure he would impress everybody with his Harvard degree and command of the English language. On the other hand, your dad thinks she brought him home because, deep down, she really wanted to piss him off. You know, he "doesn't look like" any of her former boyfriends and he "has a funny name".

Thirty seconds after she introduces him, she runs off to talk to her girl cousins about how "dreamy" he is. While they're over in the corner "oohing" and "ahhing" over his turtle neck, tweed coat with patches wearing physique, you're stuck listening to him going "blah-blah-blah-blah" about some hopey, changey community organizing he did ten years ago to help get a light bulb changed in a condemned building. Five minutes in you're starting to glance around none to surreptitiously for a way out when you suddenly recall that "Uncle John" asked you to get him another beer.

Later on you see him holding court with a bunch of the college aged kids who listen rapturously to his empty oratory. They haven't got a clue what he's talking about, but he sounds like he does and, besides, he has an exotic name. He went to Harvard, you know, and might have an answer to healing the rift in the time-space continuum.

The adults, on the other hand, have all drifted away to the periphery of the back deck, studiously avoiding Hopey-changey guy because he just couldn't stop himself from lecturing them about the evils of barbecuing with charcoal instead of some environmentally friendly bio-fuel. Like corn husks or dried cow dung when everybody knows it takes twice as much to cook with, costs twice as much to buy and makes the steak taste like crap.

You have no idea what your sister sees in him. Seriously, the dude sounds like your old calculus teacher and drinks foreign beer that looks, smells and tastes like warm cow piss on a hot August day. Oh, crap, he's looking over your way. "Hey! Uncle John! You need another beer?"

"Uncle Joe" Biden: He's that uncle that married into the family. You don't know why or to whom he was married, he's just been around a long time. He's kind of creepy. He has a tendency to hug all the women too long and give them that extra squeeze at the end. He's like the persistent used car salesman that has had his teeth whitened too much and wears a bad comb over. Every time he shows up it seems like he's trying to convince you to join him in another stupid @$$ deal that is supposed to make you rich over night. Of course, you know, his fancy car is leased and he sub-leases that condo.

Right on time, Uncle Joe is pontificating on some subject too loud and, yeah, there he goes, he just put his foot in his mouth. You can tell because your mom has that half-stunned, half-mad look on her face like she wants to clobber him with the potato salad spoon. Your dad takes him by the arm real quick and leads him over to that community organizer guy. Maybe the two of them can talk each other to death.

Two minutes later, half the young women standing around Professor Cool suddenly remember they have to go help put out the food or something. Some of the guys decide to go shoot some hoops. Uncle Joe just puts off that kind of vibe. Professor Cool is looking a little annoyed that he got stuck with Uncle Joe; like he wishes he could go join the pick up game, but he's too polite and maybe just a little conceited. He won't just leave his remaining acolytes to the old wind bag.

Now they are both trying to out pontificate each other. Uncle Joe keeps interrupting Professor Cool with some stunningly stupid observations. Another half of their little college crowd drifts away and the only ones left are the real die hard "I want to be a radical change agent, I just don't want to have to go to those stupid sit ins like my hippy parents did" kids.

Uncle Joe is drinking a Heineken. He tips it up and holds it in front of him so the label shows. As if to say, "see, I drink foreign beer, too." Dude wouldn't know a foreign beer if it smacked him in his head.

Crap. Now they've lost most of their captive audience and they're looking around for their next victims. "Hey! Uncle John! How about another beer?" Seriously, if you're going to have to listen to some old guy's long @$$ story you might as well listen to Uncle John tell the one about the time when he was a POW and he flipped the guards the bird after they just finished torturing him for ten hours. Gotta admit, Uncle John had some balls back in his day and he actually DID something, not sat around and talked about it.

"Cousin Sarah" Palin: You didn't even know you had a cousin Sarah until Uncle John introduces her. Okay, yeah, he did mention something one time about a second cousin, three times removed who lived in an igloo with a bunch of kids, sewed moccasins out of moose hide from a moose she tracked ten miles through a blizzard while simultaneously running the entire state of Alaska, but you never thought you were actually going to meet her.

Wow! She is smokin' hot. Except she's got that husband who won the Iron Dog something or other four times. You're not sure exactly what that entails, but anything with the word "iron" in it makes you try to keep acting like you're not looking at her while you chug your Miller Gold.

She knows how to be the perfect guest. She brought side dishes and two deserts. Your dad announces that the meat is done. Automatically, Cousin Sarah starts jumping in and organizing everybody to straighten the tables, lay out the food, set out the plates and get this show on the road. Your mom and dad are pretty impressed how fast she gets everybody moving. Usually, the family has to get browbeat for fifteen minutes while they grudgingly and grumpily bring their @$$es to the table, then sit around and wait to be served.

Uncle John's beaming like a new daddy handing out cigars. He just knew everybody was going to like Cousin Sarah. Professor Cool, community organizer guy comes over and starts in, "Now, hold on. Just hold on a second. I'm the community organizer and she's not doing it right. I mean, sure, she's shot a moose and run a state, but I know how to organize a community and this is not how you organize a community. First, we need a meeting..."

Nobody's listening. Uncle Joe tries to get in on the show, too. He saunters over to where Cousin Sarah is standing, holding a baby on her hip, a bowl of baked beans in one hand and the instructions for erecting the big tent out on the lawn in the other. "Hey, little lady. That looks too hard. Let me help you." Then he takes the bowl of baked beans, sits it on the table and acts like he just successfully negotiated a treaty between Russia and Georgia.

Everybody wants to talk to Sarah. The moms about raising children and paying bills. The working moms about balancing work, children and paying the bills. Career women about the challenges of doing business, how to motivate people and the most efficient methods to get it done. The guys want to talk about fishing and hunting. The older guys about running efficient government, corruption and energy. Her husband Todd is a lucky guy. Pretty cool, too.

Over in the corner, your sister and some of her friends are making catty remarks about how she's running around with all those kids, shooting stuff *ugh* and generally making them look like a bunch of unaccomplished school girls. No one can be all of those things and definitely no woman. Women have to choose to either be a mom or a career woman. Besides, there is no way they are going to have four kids, live in a freaking igloo and shoot moose. Not that anyone asked them to, but just in case someone gets the big idea. They give all the guys the stink eye.

Did you hear? She actually wanted to pray before eating dinner! What is she? Some throw back to the 1950's? Now she's helping pick up the mess after dinner without being asked. Is she deliberately trying to make everyone look bad? What the hell is wrong with her? She is sooo setting women back like a gazillion years. Doesn't she know that the men should be helping clean up the mess and watching the babies, too? Oh. They are. That b*tch!

She drinks Pabst! Out of can! At least, it looks like she's drinking a beer. It looks like the same can she had earlier. Geez! She's a damn tee-totaler. She's just holding the beer so no one feels uncomfortable.

You just sit there drinking your beer enjoying the whole scene. This has got to be the best damn family barbecue in years. Man, you hope it doesn't end too soon. You catch Uncle John's eye and lift your beer in salute. You gotta hand it to the old guy; he's still got a few kicks in his step.

You know things have changed. Your mom is so impressed with Cousin Sarah she might actually vote Republican this year.

What? Cousin Sarah is pointing at you? She wants you to get off your @$$ and help set up the tent.

Uncle John comes over and grabs another beer, "Come on, son. Let's get'er done!"

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posted by xgenghisx at 02:53 PM

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