That's what Jim Peterman says. What is it that scares Jim Peterman, and why should you care? President Barack Obama scares him, or rather the specter of a President Barack Obama.

I generally hate stories like this because I think they over-represent a particular segment of society. In this case, I think the story serves a larger purpose--to make the race between Obama and John McCain closer than it really is. Five-Thirty-Eight currently has Obama as a 2-to-1 favorite over McCain, and that's not likely to close much in the next five months without something drastic happening--the Republican brand is just too far in the crapper right now.

But stories about bigots in Flag City, USA make it seem like Obama faces these terrific odds to winning, when it seems to me like these are natural McCain voters.

On his corner of College Street, Jim Peterman stares at the four American flags planted in his front lawn and rubs his forehead. Peterman, 74, is a retired worker at Cooper Tire, a father of two, an Air Force veteran and a self-described patriot. He took one trip to Washington in 1989 -- best vacation of his life -- and bought a statue of the Washington Monument that he still displays in a glass case in his living room.
The fact that this guy or the stereotype he represents is even considering a vote for Barack Obama ought to be the story, not the fact that his neighbors are spreading the same old misinformation about Obama's backrgound. Look at the city we're talking about here:
As the years passed, Peterman and his neighbors approached one another to share in their skepticism about the unknown. What was the story behind the handful of African Americans who had moved into a town that is 93 percent white? Why were Japanese businessmen coming in to run the local manufacturing plants? Who in the world was this Obama character, running for president with that funny-sounding last name?
Of course Obama isn't likely to do well with these people--they're practically Pat Buchanan's soulmates. They're hyper-patriotic and xenophobic. Of course they're going to believe every rumor available about Obama.

Let's turn it around for a moment. What would people say if the Washington Post did an article where their reporter went into inner-city Baltimore and wondered why John McCain wasn't doing better among those voters. It would be derided as one of the dumbest exercises in media, and rightly so. But few objections have been raised to this article, and its premise is pretty much just as dumb.

This is an election about change, and no one should be surprised that there's a segment of the population that fears change to such an extent that they'll believe even the most outlandish stories in order to convince themselves that they should act in a particular way. That's not news.

I titled this post with a quote from Jim Peterman, but I didn't give you the whole quote. He also said "I'm almost starting to feel like the best choice is not voting at all." Well, if your options are between voting your fears and not voting, then I'm with you--not voting is the best option. And maybe you can convince some of your neighbors to take the same option.

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