I knew in my gut I was being lied to, conned, even manipulated into believing the campaign e-mail that offered free tickets to an event deceptively described as a political "rally".
Anyone who's followed any part of the 2008 US presidential campaign knows there is one candidate in particular - an old, crotchety "maverick" whose sense of the political winds is about as heightened as a blood-sucking bat's sense of sight - who somehow finds comfort, eight years later, in the stable albeit deceitful style of eye-gouging expert Karl Rove, who ruined John Kerry's bid for the presidency in 2004 and John McCain's attempt in 2000.
This season's candidate, ironically, is John McCain, and under Rove's counsel he has launched character assassinations, hypocritical "socialist" claims, "terrorist" insinuations and pretty much anything that could help him in the polls as Election Day nears.
Being the skilled fact-checking journalist I sometimes try to be, I returned home after McCain's event last Saturday and immediately double-checked to see if it did indeed qualify as a "rally".
According to the dictionary - a paper-bound one that even self-described computer illiterate John McCain could understand - rallies are indeed meant to "rally" people, preferably a "large group" of people, usually in relation to a political cause, and hopefully with the end result of "inspiring and generating enthusiasm among those present".
Unfortunately, the definition included neither pictures nor average numbers of what constitutes an official "rally". So I talked to a few former secretaries of state, a handful of reputable political analysts, and two of Albuquerque's most renowned fortune tellers, and concluded that it's very possible another word exists that better describes the type of event McCain hosted here in the centre of the great swing state of New Mexico. I've narrowed the list to three: picnic, family reunion and 72-year-old's birthday party.
My girlfriend and I hoped for some enthusiasm at this alleged "rally," but the most exciting moment came an hour before McCain ever got up from his makeup chair and stumbled to the lectern.
Standing in line, we overheard a McCain-aged cowboy, who was clad in leather boots, a Stetson hat and enough cologne to suffocate an elephant, commenting the length of the line: "'F'all these people vote, betcherass McCain'll win."
Anita and I turned to each other in horror, then nearly fell over laughing.
The man did an about-face and stared me down like a drill sergeant about to use a wire brush to wipe the grin off an insubordinate grunt's face.
"What'th hell you laughin' 'bout, Junior?"
Composing myself, I replied, "I just … I think maybe your crowd estimation is a bit more liberal than realistic".
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