I didn't intend to write this diary today but as this conversation unfolded between Ed Schultz and a caller to his radio show on WCPT, Chicago...well, I was left with no choice.
All week, Ed has been hammering the 'vulture capitalist' Romney story on radio and on his t.v. show. Today, he asked folks to call in if they, personally lost a pension through a direct result of a Bain Capital, corparate raid. His phone lines lit up, as caller after caller after caller recited their depressing and angry accounts and their personal experiences. This went on for two hours straight.
"I want to hear from any Republicans, who lost their pensions. How do you feel?"
After a commercial break around 1pm, a call was put through,
"Ed, I'm callin' from New Jersey, I'm a lifetime Republican. Ed...... my son's got a catastrophic brain tumor."
I recognized his accent and I could almost picture what he looked like. I knew men like him, from my 30 years in New York. Very heavy, hybridized old school Brooklyn accent, with a little Philly thrown in. A gravely voice, a tradesman, most likely a union man with calloused hands and dirt under his fingernails. He was older, probably past 50.
These men came into Manhattan everyday by the thousands, in their vans and pick up trucks, filled with tools, to work trade jobs in the city. I worked with a lot of these men and I subcontracted many of them on projects. They wore their Carhartt jackets, Redwing, steel toe boots and usually some carpenter pants with a tool dangling from the loop.
Ed was a little thrown off, that this call, which had very little to do with the subject that was being discussed, was put through. He didn't respond initially.
"I'm sorry, so tell me about it."
He recited his sentence again but this time he started to get a little shaky.
"Ed, I'm callin' from New Jersey, I'm a lifetime Republican. Ed..... my son's got a catastrophic brain tumor."
"I went to the government office and, and just got finished with all the paperwork, Ed.
Ed.....my son lost his job nine months ago and he lost all his health insurance too. So we went there and.......Ed, they're gonna' take care of it all. All the expenses."
I could see him shaking his head in disbeleif over the airwaves. I recognized the emotion as his voice cracked a little and so did Ed. So in a very calm, monotone voice Ed started talking about the differences between Democrats and Republicans and spoke a few minutes. I realized he was giving the man a little time to compose himself, and he did, a little. He didn't mention which agency he had gotten this aid from and Ed didn't ask him. Ed's last sentence was,
"You know, sometimes it takes a personal experience for us to realize how things are, for other people.
"Ed as I was leaving, I saw all these people, these homeles," he suddenly stopped, checked himself,
"No, not homeless. People who need help. There were all these people, who need help in there, waiting. Who the hell's gonna' take care of these people, if the government doesn't, Ed?"
Then he broke. Ed let him talk, he did his part. I was furiously trying to take notes while it snowed, on a pad I always have in my pocket. He was crying and choked out, defiantly,
"Ed, I'm a lifetime Republican and I'm gonna' re register as a democrat."
"And all I got....to say....is.........hoorayObama! One word.