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Profile In Childishness

Somewhere along the way--I think it was when I inserted myself into the brouhaha about whether various critics of Israel and the Israel lobby were "anti-Semitic"--a neoconservative fan of Benjamin Netanyahu and John McCain put me on the email list he sends out to various pundits. I have tried twice to get off it with no success, but I have resigned myself to getting his missives once or twice a day. And they have one virtue--they are a window on how some people in the country think about politics, and it's not pretty. In his most recent offering, this fellow reports favorably of an experience "a friend" of his had:

A few days ago, on my way to lunch, I passed a homeless guy with a sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." I laughed. Once in the restaurant my server had on a "Obama 08" tie, again I laughed as he had given away his political preference--just imagine the coincidence. When the bill came I decided not to tip the server and explained to him that I was testing the Obama redistribution of wealth concept. He stood there in disbelief while I told him that I was going to redistribute his tip to someone who I deemed more in need--the homeless guy outside. The server angrily stormed from my sight. I went outside, gave the homeless guy $10 and told him to thank the server inside as I've decided he could use the money more. The homeless guy was grateful. At the end of my rather unscientific redistribution experiment I realized the homeless guy was grateful for the money he did not earn, but the waiter was pretty angry that I gave away the money he did earn even though the actual recipient deserved money more.

Today, I went back to that restaurant for lunch and passed the homeless guy who still had his sign that read "Vote Obama, I need the money." He gave me a thumbs up. Once in the restaurant I noticed the server I stiffed had on a "McCain 08" tie. We shook hands.

I don’t entirely believe this story, especially the ending, but someone who takes pride in having stiffed a waiter, strikes me as no better than the people at the McCain rallies who shout "terrorist" and "Muslim" when Obama's name comes up.

These voters are, perhaps, willfully ignorant, but the guy who recounts this, as if it were a profile in courage, and my email correspondent who disseminates this garbage, seem to lack a fundamental understanding of what it means to live in society.

--John B. Judis