Friday, October 07, 2005

I Accidentally Watched the Mayoral Debate Last Night

I was doing an analog-to-digital transfer of some videotape and the TV was set to NY1, so every time I hit "stop" to fast-forward or change tapes, there was the mayoral debate. We got caught up in it as it was going on, and then they repeated the broadcast again right afterward.

This debate has been the topic of controversy for the past few days because Bloomberg chose not to participate. Since he's financing his campaign himself, he's allowed to skip debates. He'll be at the other two debates closer to Election Day.

Bloomberg's absence had the effect of having the other two candidates continually rank on him, giving him more publicity than he would have had if he had attended. I wouldn't be surprised if this was why he skipped it. (Nothing would surprise me anymore, although fate should not take this is a challenge to have really bad things happen to me.)

The Democratic candidate, Ferrer, always seems to be swinging this melodramatic cloak of righteous indignation whenever he answers something. You wanna tell him, "Get off your high horse!" But he did bring up the subject of affordable housing...although I don't see anybody with an actual plan for this, of course, and it seems to be a national problem right now.

The Conservative candidate, Ognibene, has, what, two percent of the vote in polls? He criticized Bloomberg for not being a real Republican, just a Democrat who switched sides to win an election. He represents the Queens district in which I grew up, where they called me "The Liberal." I agreed with a couple of things he said: Yes, there is no good reason for ninth graders to go to school with handguns, and oh yeah, when you come to live here in New York from another country, learn to speak and understand English!

I'm totally serious about that second one. If you work in or own a store or are doing any kind of service job in which you have to speak or understand English and you don't, I am not obligated by the Lord to be a walking Berlitz course! Once I had to leave a message with, I kid you not, an answering service where the operator did not understand English. At the time I figured, "Oh, this will make a funny story for The Tonight Show," and I felt like I was in an old-timey sitcom with these horns behind me going, "Bwah-bwah-bwah-bwaahhhhh." Fortunately, this was not a life-or-death situation, or it wouldn't have been so funny.

I know I'm outing myself as politically incorrect over this, and it sounds like I want to whitewash everybody's multiculturalism and have everybody be little all-American WASP-y androids. But my family, when they came to this country, made it a point to learn to speak English, they still suck at it, but they knew it was their obligation as potential citizens. And they didn't become bland and whitewashed. They and people like them changed American culture and made it a little less white, so that one day Steve Allen could use the word "Smock."

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