I encounter Duck Diamonds, professional gambler, in his customary posture at the Liquor and Rubber Balls Sports Emporium and Dry Cleaners: planted deep in a booth, feet propped up with cell phone on his lap, an unlit cigar between his teeth.
“Listena this,” he says, without looking up from his paper. “From yesterday’s New York Times:
“When Mr. Obama began his presidential campaign, Muslim Americans from California to Virginia responded with enthusiasm, seeing him as a long-awaited champion of civil liberties, religious tolerance and diplomacy in foreign affairs. But more than a year later, many say, he has not returned their embrace.
“While the senator has visited churches and synagogues, he has yet to appear at a single mosque. Muslim and Arab-American organizations have tried repeatedly to arrange meetings with Mr. Obama, but officials with those groups say their invitations — unlike those of their Jewish and Christian counterparts — have been ignored.
“In interviews, Muslim political and civic leaders said they understood that their support for Mr. Obama could be a problem for him at a time when some Americans are deeply suspicious of Muslims. Yet those leaders nonetheless expressed disappointment and even anger at the distance that Mr. Obama has kept from them.”
He looks up at me, grinning. “Pretty smart guy. Shows a lotta streets.”
Duck shakes his head sadly. “You don’t get it, do you. But funny you bring up Rev. Wright, ’cause it’s the same maneuver, which worked pretty well.”
You lost me back in the duck blind, Duck.
He sighs. “This ain’t what it looks like. What happens with Wright is, Wright does him a favor. Try as he would, Obama can’t drive the wedge between the two. So Wright climbs up on his hind legs, opens his craw, and does it for ‘im. How could he NOT turn his back on him after that appearance?”
Yeah, I remember.
“So now here’s the American Muslims playin’ the same hand. They know there’s no way a certain percentage of American people, no matter what Obama says and does, won’t swear the sumbitch is lying about being a Muslim. Which he ain’t, but facts got nothing to do with it.”
Fax? What fax?
“So they put it out there that Obama wants no part of ’em. They know they’re political poison, so how do they cash in? Easy — they bitch about being ignored by the guy that’s supposed to be one of ’em. In effect, they’re pointing out how wrong people are about this guy — not only isn’t he one of ’em, he don’t even like ’em! Maybe he even hates ’em. Maybe he’s anti-Muslim! Ha!”
They go west to go east. A misdirection play.
“Same as what Wright did. Takes a dive to win the fight. Lose a battle, win a war.”
But wait a minute. If that’s what’s really happening here, that says Obama’s in bed with them, just quietly. How come they like him to begin with? McCain’s ignoring them too, but they’re not complaining about that, are they?
“Every minority in this country has a better shot with Obama than McCain. Use your fuckin head. McCain is good for the upper class. Rich people. How many minorities are there like that? It’s just numbers. Can’t you count?”
Yeah. Up to 20. Twenty-one in the shower.
“That’s what I like about you,” says Duck, signaling the waitress. “You may look dumb, but you’re ugly. What’re you drinkin?”
I can’t remember how the night ended.