Scenes from an office

by Nathan Hamm on 8/13/2004 · 18 comments

“Why can’t they [al Qaeda] kill the Republicans?”

UPDATE: More from the same person… In a nutshell, “Republicans are a bigger threat than al Qaeda.” And that, in short, is why I’m not a Democrat any longer.

UPDATE II: Why? Well, she’s “seen the enemy and it is us.” “We create the problems.” And why might my experience overseas not count? Because she “reads a lot.” What the hell am I, illiterate?

You don’t go from pining for my death because of my party affiliation to pretenses of nonpartisanship.

UPDATE III: I am in head-busting mood today. It only gets worse. As if I wasn’t before, I am now completely and utterly convinced that Green party members are politcal fundamentalists who Democrats and Republicans should unite to ostracize. Fairness be damned, they understand public policy but just don’t care about maximizing public good. Yes, we’ve got a second nutjob bugging me today.

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– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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Tatyana August 13, 2004 at 11:28 am

Hmmm, and all this in the office? I was told (and thought it true, till now) that Americans will rather discuss publicly condition of their bodily liquids than engage in political conversations.

On the other hand, yesterday on Union Square corner I heard kids peddling some Democratic questionnere or petition to passers-by yelling pretty much same things (which given the place didn’t disturb anybody around)

swh August 13, 2004 at 11:31 am

I’ve had similar experiences to yours: “And why might my experience overseas not count? Because she “reads a lot.” What the hell am I, illiterate?”

I’ve spent a good amount of my adult life working for the U.S. government overseas. I’m back in the states for now, and it still amazes me how naive some of our citizens can be.

thanks for sharing.

Nathan August 13, 2004 at 11:48 am

Union Square? Is that the one that has the outdoor bar? The first time I went to NYC I got loaded there, ran up a $250 bar tab with some people from the office, and six of us had to stay in one hotel room.

swh, I like to think that my politics are based not only on my ideals but on facts and my experiences. Too many people I know base their politics in hermetically sealed worldviews through which only facts confirming that worldview can pierce. I know I have biases, but I try to overcome them, not maintain them in the face of counterevidence.

Tatyana August 13, 2004 at 12:10 pm

Which bar (there are at least 20 outdoor bars around the square there)? – oh, sorry – you wouldn’t remember, understandably so.

$250 bar tab between FEW people is not something outrageous – what with the $14 for a simple Cosmopolitan I had once about $70 check to pay even before dinner…

The kid at the corner was holding “Stop Bush!” sign and stack of papers and screaming “Help us to stop Republicans to destroy the world” or some such nonsense. Next to him there was a [very] elderly lady, who asked me politely, am I a registered voter and would I please help Democrats to restore sanity.

Can’t vouch for exact words, but that’s what I remember.

Mark Hamm August 13, 2004 at 2:25 pm


Surely you have better reasons not to be a Democrat than just because you work with a deluded leftist? If that’s the case, to balance things out, I’ll have to send you a recent letter to the editor out here that suggests Democrats are all homos or another that claims we should vote Bush as that is God’s will.

I keep thinking of your comment once to me that many of these people are living in their own fantasy world, where thay are the hero fighting against evil. It doesn’t matter your experiences or what they read they only accept the stuff that fits into their theaterical world view. It’s become for me a pretty good way to view these nut jobs.

Nathan August 13, 2004 at 2:50 pm

This is discussed more at Redstate.

No, the reason is because I have not met any Republicans who think that Democrats are the biggest enemy in the world.

Even among Republicans who think that having a Democratic president is a tragedy, there is not this kind of talk.

I don’t have Republicans on the street corner telling me that it’s my moral obligation to vote a certain way.

It’s not just her. It’s almost all of them I know here. It’s the girl who cried during F911. It’s the woman I know who cried when McGreevey said he quit because he’s gay–“Oh those evil Republicans!” (he’s a liar, he quit because he hired his lover for a high-paying job and it was about to become publicly known). It’s Ted Kennedy’s rumination that the only thing we have to fear is four more years of Bush. It’s Howard Dean’s declaration that terror warnings are a political trick. It’s Michael Moore sitting next to Jimmy Carter.

I’m well aware that you have unhinged Republicans out there. We have them here. Like I said, they’re not on the street corner asking me to save America. They’re a dying breed on the fringes of society, not the young affluent middle class. You also don’t see this in RNC leadership anymore. You do see it in DNC leadership.

I know that they live in hermetically sealed ideological universes, but the problem is that there are way too many of these people around now.

Nathan August 13, 2004 at 2:55 pm

I’ve also gotta add that I’ve never seen a run-of-the-mill mainstream Republican tell someone they’re evil for their party affiliation in polite company, one-on-one, in public.

I’ve had it happen before. And, I don’t care if it was said in the abstract by a nut, saying Republicans should be killed by terrorists–right to my face–is pretty personal.

By the by, there are DNC employees (they call them “paid volunteers”) on the street all over here engaging in hyperbole. I’m having a hard time believing that’s the fringe, dad, when the DNC is paying them to do this.

Herman August 13, 2004 at 4:07 pm

Yeah, but part of this might be campaigning style. My casual observation is that when Republicans issue campaign against a person, like Clinton’s sex-life, they have meeting rather than send people out on the street to harass the general public.

Mark Hamm August 13, 2004 at 4:25 pm

I was thinking you’d have policy reasons not a weighing of the nutjobs for each side. You know, revenue, expenditures, foreign policy.

Nathan August 13, 2004 at 5:20 pm

Oh, I certainly do. But, I’m more or less one of those wicked neoconservatives. We’re found in both parties. I just prefer the company in the Republican one.

chris August 13, 2004 at 6:50 pm

Oh, come on now. I may be a rabid, unstable, Bush-hating loon who regularly stoops to insulting all the President’s supporters, but not even I would go so far as to hold the President’s supporters against the President. I think you’re really exaggerating the differences between the sickos on both sides.

I travel in almost exclusively liberal circles and I’ve heard some pretty awful, teeth-gritting stuff, but I have never in my life heard someone wish that A.Q. would kill Republicans.

Anyway, suppose that neo-cons are, as a general rule, much nicer people. Even so, the main focus has to be on a) what the leadership of each side says; b) what the leadership of each side intends to do; and c) what the leadership of each side is capable of doing. That’s where the main choice comes in. (Of course you agree with that. Where we seem to disagree is whether to asign any weight at all to idiotic things that each side’s extreme supporters sometimes say.)

Nathan August 13, 2004 at 7:46 pm

Since no one buys it unless I spell it out…

I find the extreme opinions on each side reprehensible. Clinton brought the crazies out of the Republican wood work.

One of the biggest differences to me is that those that were ridiculous in their hatred of Clinton weren’t exactly run-of-the-mill, middle class, urban and suburban types. They’re not very close to the levers of power. In other words, Republican crazies aren’t media-friendly average Americans.

When clean-cut trusties from the universities are out on the street corner getting ridiculous, when a white-haired lady from a wealthy Philadelphia suburb tells me Republicans should be killed by Al Qaeda, when Ted Kennedy says the only thing we have to fear is another term of Bush, that’s when we know we have a problem. I don’t care if it’s hyperbole, it’s out of bounds. I may not want Kerry to win, but if he does, he’ll still be my President, and damn it, I’ll support him against the slanderous accusations made against Bush.

Let’s elaborate on that. I never went after Kerry in any of this because he isn’t talking this way. I am holding the supporters against the party because, well, aren’t they what the party is made of? It’s not some abstraction that’s just a collection of planks to make a platform.

I’m not as top-down as you Chris. Leaders are beholden to their constituents to a certain extent. Kerry is writing a lot of checks to frothing partisans (especially in the foreign policy arena) that he simply can’t cash. Mark my words, if he wins, he’ll be a one-termer that’ll rank up there with Carter (nice guy but pretty ineffective President).

And just to reiterate. That quotation is 100% accurate. The context was in a discussion of the possibility of a terrorist attack during the Republican Convention. The only thing I left out of that was the “Good.” that preceded the question.

praktike August 14, 2004 at 12:48 am

Dick Scaife, GOP leadership, and the WSJ editorial board not close to the levers of power?

Interesting viewpoint.

Nathan August 14, 2004 at 8:34 am

Again, I’m not talking about the rich and powerful, I’m talking about the connected middle class.

Also, please let me know where these people are saying things on par with what the DNC is paying people to say on the streets.

praktike August 15, 2004 at 4:38 pm

okay, how about repeatedly asserting that Bill Clinton is a murderer and a rapist, and Hillary Clinton is a power-hungry communist who hates America?

praktike August 15, 2004 at 4:49 pm

How about the time Newt Gingrich mused about bombing the State Department? Ditto for Falwell and Robertson. These people have followings, you know. They are popular for a reason.

How about the gigantic “Nuke the UN” banner on a house near mine?

I just think that there are crazies on both sides of the aisle, and you just happen to be in a pretty liberal town. I suggest you travel more.

Nathan August 15, 2004 at 5:10 pm

Maybe I’ve not mentioned before I’m not from around here?

I grew up in a town where there was a “Get the US out of the UN” sign by a highway that was older than me. I’ve lived in bastions of flower-power liberalism, traditionalist conservatism (17 years), and venal, union-dominated liberalism. I think I’ve been around.

What I think you’re missing is that I’m not talking about the fringes. Falwell and Robertson have followings, yes. So do Dennis Kucinich and Lyndon LaRouche. I don’t remember Gingrich saying that, but I won’t deny it. In all fairness, Jim Moran’s mused anti-Semitic and, well, Robert Byrd.

I’m talking about normal people you run into at the food court. Dad, you may not get them at home, but go up to Portland. Praktike, I don’t know Pittsburgh, so I don’t know what to tell you.

What I’m noticing is that people who don’t live along the coast from DC to Boston aren’t believing me because they don’t get to see it, are convinced it can’t be normal people, or just don’t want to believe that it’s happening. I’m sorry, but I’m not talking about frothing anarchists or protesting performing artist. I’m talking about middle-class professionals.

Why’s it happening and mostly in certain areas? I’d have to say it’s because they’re pretty ideologically homogenous. When the group froths itself up and shifts en masse to a certain direction, there’s eventually going to have to come a time that you have to stop dismissing them as the fringe.

praktike August 16, 2004 at 8:52 am

Heck, maybe we’re both right. Maybe the middle class — both the pious middle class that supports guys like the modern GOP leadership (who I’m contending represent their constituents) and evangelical preachers and the liberal urban middle class that nods its head to the illogical anti-American idiocy at the heart of Farenheit 911 — are just becoming crazy altogether.

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