It had been a long time since I'd had lunch with my octogenarian buddy Bernard. He looked well, full of life. I soon learned that the color in his cheeks was less a sign of health than anger.
"Are you following the Republican race," he queried me before I was even fully slid into the booth. "They've all been dunked into that teacup party, like stale cookies you're trying to hide the taste of."
"You don't like the tea party?"
"Ha!" He refused to answer while he -curiously enough - poured sugar into his tea.
"This Perry character. Oh my." Bernard just shook his head.
"What? You're against alliteration? Don't like the sound of President Perry?"
Bernard just stared at me. "Moron," he said. "If he gets in, we'll have to deal with another four to eight years of some guy proving his manhood as compensation for earlier life choices that might be construed as effeminate."
"What?" This time I was genuinely puzzled about what he was saying.
"Like Bush, he was a cheerleader in college. His base are not the kind of folks who would instinctively approve of such a thing. In fact, many of them would take that as proof that the man was a little limp-wristed. The result?" He raised his eyebrows. I shrugged. "The result is that Perry has to do things like execute more criminals than anyone else. And when he's president, like Bush he'll have to invade countries that are marginally related to any real threats to this country. The problem is, he has to prove himself. At our expense. Of course, he's still not the one pulling the switch on the accused. Or storming the walls of the enemy's castle. He's still just the cheerleader, up there making noises and rallying the crowd behind the attack. All his attempts to prove that he's more than a cheerleader are further proof that he's just a cheerleader."
"That actually makes sense. Kind of."
"Of course it makes sense. Everyone in my generation minored in psychology," Bernard said. "We had to understand the subconscious to hold our own in civilized society the same way that your generation has to understand computers."
"Well can you explain why those Tea Party people get so excited about the chance to kill a condemned man or even a poor kid who failed to pay his insurance premiums or even a 13 year old girl who engages in premarital sex but get so riled up about abortion?"
"They don't want heaven to be crowded."
"They know that if we all live long enough, most of us will fail to qualify for their heaven. We'll do or believe the wrong thing - something irresponsible like murder or failure to budget correctly or question their authority - and then be imperfect - be disqualified to live in their heaven. By contrast, they know that a fetus is innocent. Too many of those and heaven will be crowded with more than just their friends and family. Too crowded. Worse, many of them won't even be the right color or ethnic group."
"You are an idiot," I told him with some blend of accusation and affection.
"It helps to be a little idiotic if you want to make sense of things."
And then I decided to join Bernard and ordered a tea.