Author Archives: james

WASTELAND BAIT & TACKLE / James McMurtry

 

 

SEE THE
ELEPHANT IN THE ROOM

 

Good
luck, Senator Obama.

 

 

What am I to make of this place? In the words
of Eliot, “How shall I presume?”

 

I am driving to Madison, Indiana, a ways off
the interstate. The two-lane winds between lush farms. The livestock looks
healthy and well bred and the machines all look brand new, pickups, cars,
tractors, balers, bush hogs, riding lawnmowers—especially the ones which are
ridden exclusively by older white guys. Some of the lawns exceed the four acre
mark, but every inch is mowed. One of my bandmates remarks that these are some
lawn-cutting sons-of-bitches out here. My friend, Leslie Silko, once referred
to Texans as, “The People of the Lawn,” but Texans would have to do some
serious irrigation to get lawns like these. Nice place they got here. And,
they’ve got the necessary mowers and the gas to put in them.

 

They’re prosperous, and, judging by their
billboards, they’re also religious, and they’re… pissed off. One sign reads, “Your
New Age Christ according to Oprah, will not save you.” Another says, “Heartbeat:
Eighteen days after conception.” Yes, I’m sure most mothers’ hearts are beating
eighteen days after they conceive. The next day, on the way down to Louisville,
I see a billboard that reads, “Saturday, the true Sabbath, changed by the
Antichrist.” One pickup has a “Terrorist Hunting License” window sticker with a
picture of Osama Bin Laden, or maybe just some anonymous A-rab in the
crosshairs.

 

These were my people once. I was never a
Hoosier, but I was, and still am, related to middle Americans. They weren’t
always so angry, or so violently Christian. Someone has convinced them that
they are in danger and that only Jesus and George W. Bush can save them. With
Senator Clinton bowing out, Senator Obama will now have to try to win these
people over. Good luck, Barack.

 

Of course, Hillary would have had a hard time
with this lot too. Her husband, an Arkie, could talk the talk, but even he was
branded by the gun press as “Handgun Control, Inc.”

 

Just you watch. No one will want to be called
racist, so many rural Midwesterners, economically strapped from eight years of
Bush policy, will still say they can’t vote for Obama because he’s a Democrat
and therefore not totally committed to preservation of the second amendment as
we now know it, as if any president would have time to mess with the Second Amendment
in the current economic climate. No, when they say they can’t vote for Obama,
their real reason is that he’s black, plain and simple.

 

Now, the Republicans get to run a former POW
against a black man, and we all know they’re rejoicing. I know Clinton shot
herself in the foot when she “misspoke” about the sniper fire in
Bosnia. The Republicans didn’t have to engineer her downfall as they did Edmund
Muskie’s in 1972. But, I’m still haunted by the words of the Deep Throat
character in All the President’s Men:
“They didn’t want to run against Muskie, they wanted to run against McGovern,
so look who they’re running against…”

 

Look who they’re running against now.

 

Good luck Senator Obama. You now have my vote.

 

Singer-songwriter
James McMurtry lives in Austin, Texas. When he’s not touring, you can see him
at the Continental Club every Wednesday, ‘round about midnight. His latest
album,
Just
Us Kids, is out now on Lightning Rod
Records.