New York

The Kids Are All Right

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T-Shirts, stickers, buttons, signs at the Kerry/Springsteen rally, Burnham Plaza, Cleveland. These people are ready for battle:

“I’m proud of my country but I’m ashamed of my president.”

“Bush for Ex-President”

Bush as ventriloquist’s dummy, wearing top-hat and tux, operated by Dick Cheney.

“Like a rock, only dumber.”

“Vote For Bush And You Get Dick.”

“Hot Chicks Dig Edwards!”

“Asses of Evil”

“More Trees, Less Bush”

“Dumb and Dumber”

Uncle Sam wagging his finger, only his face is George Bush’s: “You Go To War! I’ll Stay Here!”

A sweet vibe, a street festival kind of vibe, on a cool, clear, still night, the crepuscular glow of a city emerging out of the rain. Someone skips in line, a guy is about to complain. His companion: “Don’t sweat it. It’s all about the love.” And so it is. A little girl sitting on Daddy’s shoulders, shyly fluttering her American flags. A gaggle of skinny grade school boys, impishly affixing “Bushit” stickers to their baseball caps with a snakes-and-snails-and-puppy-dog-tails kind of innocence, giggling at the chance, just this one night, to sport some naughtiness in public.

I ask them why they don’t care for their Commander in Chief. All at once: “Because he makes the wrong decisions.” “‘Cuz he’s a liar!” “Because he’s stupid!”

What decisions? “Iraq!” “Iraq!” “The president can’t even make a decision, because he’s so stupid.” “Because he lost two billion jobs and John Kerry’s going to bring them back.”

The smartest kid is Eli, eleven: “When he went into Iraq he only guarded the oil companies! And Bush is, like, lowering the taxes for the, the richer people, and, like, highering them for the middle class.”

They talk about what happens when they try to debate the Bush supporters in their class, whenever the Young, Young Republicans meet an objection they haven’t heard before: “They’re all like, tears, and stuttering.” When confronted with Abu Ghraib: “Bush always has good reasons to do what he does!”

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