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Date: Thu Oct 19 2000 - 14:08:16 PDT

When I was eight years old, Adlai Stevenson was running for president,
unsuccessfully for the second time, against Dwight Eisenhower. I, whose
father was a Democratic precinct captain, of course was ardently for
Stevenson, though I little knew why. Another boy in my class, Paul Jordan,
was ardently for Eisenhower, for equally good reasons. Supported by our
fervor and nothing else, we yelled and argued all that fall. Utlimately, our
political arguments took the only form they could, given the ratio of heat to
light: highly sophissticated form of pencil drawings, which we would work on
while pretendning to be paying attention to our teacher, of the armadas and
flotillas and air wings of military forces each of us arrayed agaisnt the
idiocies of the other. I drew bombers and submarines, jet fighters with
ratatattat machine guns under each wing; I drew battleships and aircraft
carriers and ICBMs with A-bombs and H-bombs. Paul fought back with his own
feeble, obsolete, badly generaled, ill-trained ill-fed and ill-equiped and
meagrely imagined armed forces. And thus the argument ranged, at the cost of
reams of paper, each of us a mini-Zeus hurling what we thought were
thunderbolts, but were more like sparks of static electricity, at the other.

In my advanced age--you can do the math, but I'm still sexier than you--I
have come to the conclusion that anyone who can argue 100% only for one
political candidate is evincing the same level of poltical maturity and
thoughtfulness that Paul Jordan (and, I suppose, I--but I was RIGHT) did
then. You know who you are: the knee-jerk defamers and detractors, who insist
that there is no good on the other side whatsoever, no credit to be given
because not not jot is due, who sit there at your computers for hours, it
must be, making little ASCII drawings of battleships and cruisers and PT
Boats and missiles and laser guns and so on and so forth, and posting them.
We are convinced of your fervor: But unthinking fervor makes you incapable
of convincing anyone of anything else.

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