Face to Face with a PUMA


Some creatures only exist in legend. Creatures like Unicorns and Griffins. Some, such as the Takin, do exist but are quite rare indeed, and the fact of their existence is the inspiration for various myths.

During the presidential primaries last year, the media (as they are wont to do) made a big stink about a group of people so angry that their candidate lost, so convinced that she got a raw deal, that they would go against all logic, party affiliation, and policy belief just to make sure that they got their revenge. These angry Hilary supporters were known by the acronym PUMA, which stood for party unity, my ass. And sure, there were some ugly examples of their existence, but again when the media wants to trump up something for entertainment value, it has always been able to do so.

So last night my friend Thomas (who is in town visiting from Argentina) invited me to a(n otherwise) lovely dinner party with friends of his in Brooklyn. It was there, in an otherwise orderly discussion of current events like Whitney Houston’s crack voice and the health care debate, that I realized I was sitting face to face with a PUMA. He got very animated dissing Obama’s every move, screeching how Hilary would have been better at, well, everything, and then dropped the bombshell that he had voted for McCain. At first I giggled, sure that he was joking, but then I saw from the way his friends were rolling their eyes dismissively that it was true, and he ranted on for several more minutes about it. I have to admit to being pretty shocked. In my most upset moments ever at the way Hilary conducted her campaign, it would have been anathema to me to vote for McCain. I would obviously be voting for whoever most closely matched my political beliefs, and if not Obama, that would be Clinton. But here was proof of logic out the window, of someone willing to toss out their own supposed policy beliefs for a kind of weird tribalism and petty hurt.

And then an old (yiddish, I think) proverb came to me.

The only fool greater than the fool who thinks he knows it all, is the one who argues with him.

And I quickly changed the subject to talk about how great the meal was, and how yummy the dessert looked.