A target-rich environment for columnists these days

Red State/ Blue State • DAVE SIMPSON & GREG BEAN

Dear Greg:

I’m still chuckling amiably about the way you ended a post-election e-mail to me, which I think we should share with our readers. (I’m determined to remain amiable these days, takingwhat comes my way with Falstaffian good humor.)

What you asked me was this: “What will we write about?”

No doubt blinded by victory, you were concerned that now that Barack Obama has been elected, everything will become so perfect so quickly that people such as myself will cry “uncle” and give up on ever having another pundit-like thought again. Opinion writers, you apparently figure, will be in unemployment lines, since no thinking person can disagree anymore.

Ha, ha, ha, Greg, that’s a good one, a real knee-slapper.

If anything, old pal, I think there are many more interesting things to write about, now that George Beelzebub Bush and Diablo Cheney are on the way out, and Blessed Salvation has arrived. For instance, I’m waiting to see how my new president deals with people like the euphoric Peggy Joseph, an Obama acolyte who said on election night, “I don’t have to worry about putting gas in my car. I don’t have to worry about paying my mortgage. If I help him [Obama], he’ll help me.”

Now, Greg, you’re a lot more dialed in to this “change we can believe in” stuff, so maybe you can explain what Peggy was so happy about.

Does the election of Obama really mean that after Jan. 20, I don’t have to worry about putting gas in my car anymore, like Peggy? And, like Peggy, can I stop making my mortgage payments now? I mean, that would be swell. Or, is this awesome new program just for those of you who helped President-elect Obama get elected?

Is this about spreading gas around?

Because, if I don’t have to pay for my house anymore, and gasoline is free, well, heck, he can forget about that middle-class tax cut. Surely a true Obama believer like Peggy couldn’t be wrong about this, could she?

Another thing that fills me with wonder is Chris Matthews, who I thought was a steelyeyed, no-favorites observer of all things political, but who said on election night that Obama’s win was “so wildly wonderful in so many ways.” How about that? And he said Obama is “a guy who’s on the ball almost to a point that’s Zen-like.”

Wow, Greg, Zen-like.

Then the other day, he said on TV, “Part of my job is to make sure he [Obama] succeeds.”

Shazam, Greg! Did I go to bed one night and miss the media turning from vicious attack dogs to loving lapdogs? And, are you like Chris now, and figure it’s your job to make sure Obama succeeds?

This is what I call change, Greg, and our swell new president hasn’t even been sworn in yet. Imagine what it’ll be like when he’s in the crazy round office.

Nothing to write about? Ha, ha, ha, Greg. I think this little garden is going to bear fruit for years to come.
Goin’ with the flow, I remain,
Red State Dave

Dear Dave:

I was sitting in my living room last week when the phone rang, and Caller ID said the person on the other end was from the National Rifle Association. I’ve been a supporter of the NRA over the years because I believe the SecondAmendment is as important and inviolable as all the other amendments, and while I can’t think of a good reason to own an Uzi, or a Barrett .50 cal sniper rifle, I do think our founding fathers were serious when they said American citizens have the right to keep and bear arms.

The caller, who explained he was conducting a survey on behalf of NRA Executive Vice President Wayne LaPierre, had a single question: “Do you trust Barack Obama to protect your gun rights?”

When I said yes, he hung up on me. Truth is, I don’t know how much I trust Barack Obama to protect my Second Amendment rights, but I was a little put off that the guy hasn’t even taken office yet and the NRA is already in a snit about what he might do. So if the NRA is already organizing opposition to Obama, you have to believe that there are lots of other conservative organizations out there doing the same thing. So, yep, I guess we’ll have something to write about after all.

But if slapping down a rude caller from the NRA means you think I “figure it’s (my) job to make sure Obama succeeds,” I’ll happily plead guilty.

And as far as your comments about Peggy Joseph, I think you were misinterpreting her words, and I think you know it.

Peggy wasn’t saying she wouldn’t pay her mortgage or pay to put gas in her car after Obama takes office. What she was saying is that once he’s in office, he’ll work to solve the problems that made her worry about paying her mortgage and affording gas for her car in the first place. Not that it’s going to be an easy job — it’s going to take a while to undo eight years of Republican malfeasance under people like George W. (Shrub) Bush and Phil Gramm — but at least she’ll know the administration is working to solve the problem for people like her, and not just sitting around trying to figure out how help greedheads like those at AIG, Halliburton and your good friends at Exxon- Mobil make even more money.

You remember when the oil companies raised gasoline prices last summer because there had been a hurricane and they were worried that damage to the Gulf Coast refineries might lead to decreased production? There was no decrease in production, but nobody asked the companies to give back any of the money they’d gouged from us. In fact, ExxonMobil reported profits of $14.83 billion in the third quarter of 2008, breaking their own profit records so handily that it astounded even them.

Maybe Barack Obama and a DemocratcontrolledCongresswillmake that kind of unconscionable price gouging illegal, and that may wind up easing the minds of people like Peggy Joseph (and me) who worry they won’t be able to drive back and forth to work unless somebody brings these thieves and reprobates to heel. And in that effort, I’d be happy to help him succeed.
Your nearly giddy friend,
Blue State Greg