The meeting had the curiously American ‘town hall’ format, where the candidate sits on a high stool, surrounded by around a hundred supporters and directly responds to their questions and concerns.
The day, October 10th 2008, is etched in every liberal American’s memory and so is the candidate, who showed the world what it takes to be a gentleman. It was Arizona Republican senator and Vietnam War hero, John McCain.
Having just finished responding to a questioner, McCain turned and passed his wireless microphone to an elderly, hypertense woman who grabbed the mike and said, “I can’t trust Obama. I have read about him and he’s not, he’s not uh — he’s an Arab (***she made the word sound like ‘aye-rab’***). He’s not….”
Before the woman had a chance to finish her sentence, McCain reached out and took the microphone from her. Then he did something that only leaders with genuine morals have the courage to do.
Shaking his head in irritation and dismissal, he said, “No, ma’am. I know Barack Obama and he’s a decent family man, a patriotic American, with whom I just happen to have disagreements on fundamental issues and that’s what this campaign is all about. And he’s not an Arab.” (McCain failed to address Quinnell’s unabashed bigotry with a stronger rebuke but I’ll give him a pass on that one).
Famous overnight, that woman, Gayle Quinnell, later gave an interview to NBC’s Adam Aigner, in which she said she got the pamphlets on Obama being an Arab at ‘her local library’, in Shakopee, Minnesota and also from a pamphlet she got at a local Republican campaign office.
Gayle Quinnell then took it upon herself to redistribute the information in the pamphlet as widely as possible, by making copies of it and mailing them to random names in the phone book. Come what may, she was not going to let facts get in the way, when it came to Obama.
Here is the transcript of that interview:
Gayle Quinnell: I went to the library in Shakopee and I got lots of … three pages of information about Obama.
Aigner: And what kind of information did you get?
Quinnell: Lots, I got ta tell you. It’s a long story. I’m afraid of what’s gonna to happen to this country, if Obama wins.
Aigner: What do you think could happen? Do you think America would become a Muslim country?
Quinnell: Oh, it would be bad, real bad, I tell ya…
Aigner: So even though Senator McCain told you that he didn’t feel that was true and that you ought to be more respectful, you still fear that something real bad is going to happen?
Quinnell: I sure do. Yeah. I’m not alone. I go to Burnsville, the main Republican headquarters and I do a lot of work over there. Y’know – sending out mail and talking to people. And all the people agree with what I’m sayin’ to you about Obama.
Aigner :Then there are a lot of volunteers for McCain who feel that way?
Quinnell: Of course, lots of ’em. In fact I got a letter from another woman that goes over there to Burnsville and she sent me more things about Obama.
Aigner: What was on the letter?
Quinnell: Oh all kinds of bad things about him and all, y’know. It’s all bad.
Aigner: Are a lot of people getting this letter and are a lot of people believeing it and is that turning a lot of support for McCain?
Quinnell: Yeah, shore it is. I sent out 400 letters taday. I went to Kinkos and I got ’em all printed out and I mailed ’em all.
Aigner:How did you get the names and addresses?
Quinnell: Oh, I went in the phone book and got ’em and then I sent ’em out ta people, so they can decide if they would want Obama.
Aigner: Can you give me your name again?
Quinnell: Gayle Quinnell and I honestly think that if these people read what I sent ’em about this Obama, they wouldn’t want him.
Aigner: Because they would know what you know in the letter?
Quinnell: Yeah, shore. In fact when I was standing in line , there were about eight girls, young girls standing in line. And they said ‘what you got?’ I had one of the letters and they said ‘Give it to me. I wanna to read it, I wanna to read it’ and they read it. And they just went like (***shakes head***) .
Aigner: And where are you from, ma’am?
Quinnell: I’m from Shakopee.
Quinnell: Shakopee, Minnesota.
Aigner: And …. I’m sorry how old are you, ma’am?
Quinnell: I’m sevennie-fie…
Quinnell: (***Nods yes***) And I got a lota grandkids and a lota kids, I got five kids. I got seven grandkids and they all think the same way.
Aigner: Just to be sure to make sure we got your quote OK, you called Obama an Arab terrorist? Why do you think he is an Arab?
Quinnell: Because his dad is. If you… I’ll send you the paper, it has everything in it.
Aigner: His dad might have been Muslim, but Barack Obama has never been a Muslim. He is a Christian. And he’s not an Arab either.
Quinnell: Yeah, but he still got Muslim in ‘im. So that’s still part of him. I got all that stuff from the library and I could send you all kinds of stuff on him.
The Gayle Quinnells of America live just beyond the suburbs, in the small towns of middle America. They are part of the ‘little guys’ who once voted Democrat. But not anymore, since the Democratic Party is now the party of the college educated.
The Quinnells cannot articulate this but if you were to decipher their tone, they would tell you, ‘Its not about the economy, stupid. It is all about race.’ This bears out, since most minorities have the same status as them, even though they inhabit urban areas. And minorities vote Democratic.
The Quinnells aren’t the types who respond to polling agencies’ phone calls and thus went unheeded by all the pollsters. They really are the ‘silent majority’, the dark matter, so powerful a force that you can tout as many celebrities on stage as you like, you can garner as many newspaper endorsements, you can hold as many $20000-a-plate fundraisers, you can plaster American TV screens with as many Ads as you want to – won’t do you any good. Gayle Quinnell and her ilk are something that the Clinton campaign, the media, the pundits, the commentators, the talk show hosts, you, me, the world – even the Trump Campaign – never saw coming.
Maybe Trump recognized the power of the silent majority all along. Maybe that is why he could boastfully tell his followers that they ‘will and win and win and they’ll win so much that they’ll be sick of winning’. Conversely, maybe the silent majority saw a quality in Trump that we didn’t know existed.
Either way, I hate to say this but I wish we were living the Julio-Claudian times, when the market for hemlock was booming and Roman emperors were frequently made to discontinue living – by treacherous wives, stepsons and Praetorians.
Come on, CIA, bring out the Polonium-210. Find that grassy knoll.