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Meet "Mike" from Chicago, the GOP's Worst Nightmare

Reported by Marie Therese - May 20, 2007 -

News Hounds Editorial
Recently, during a very pleasant visit to a friend's home, she and I and her brother "Mike" (not his real name) got into a discussion about politics. In his early 70s, Mike is a devout Roman Catholic of Polish extraction, high-school educated, living in a middle class suburb of Chicago. Currently, he is enjoying retirement with his wife, having worked for many years in the nuclear industry. Although he suffers from several serious ailments, Mike is the kind of guy who can and will insist on fixing anything for a friend - car, boat, refrigerator - you name it, he can repair it. He is also loyal to a fault and would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it.

I first met Mike last year when his sister was hospitalized for cancer treatments. She was not responding well. He flew out and stayed with her for three months. Despite the fact that he and I had widely divergent political views, we got along quite well, united in our common interest in the health and well-being of his sister.

Thankfully, she battled through the cancer and, defying all odds, is cancer-free and once again enjoying her life, so Mike's most recent visit was a much happier event.

About a month ago, as I sat in my friend's living room, ensconced in a recliner in front of a huge plasma TV screen and digesting a wonderful meal, Mike suddenly shared some of his feelings about George Bush and the Republican Party.

He said some very interesting things and then made one absolutely astounding announcement.

Here, in a nutshell, is what Mike told us.

He no longer feels that George Bush is a competent President.

He is very disappointed in the Republican Party.

He voted for Bush in 2000 and 2004 based largely on the issue of abortion, but was torn because he followed the admonitions of the Pope and did not support the war in Iraq (the Pope told Catholics that it was an immoral, unjust war).

Mike believes Iraq is a mess.

And, now for the piece de resistance, Mike's show-stopping admission ....

Mike likes Barack Obama, thinks he is a really good man and is leaning towards voting for him for President.

My friend and I - both liberal Democrats - were dumbstruck!

When we recovered our composure, we asked Mike why he would consider Obama. He said that, coming from Illinois, he thought Obama had done good things for that state. He "felt" that Obama was a good man.

As Mike spoke, I suddenly understood why the GOP launched such a ferocious and early attack on Barack Obama.

Internal polling may have shown the leaders of the Republican Party that there are a lot more out there like "Mike" - dedicated Republicans who have grown disgusted with the Bush administration, voters for whom a candidate's race no longer matters.

I must admit, after hearing what "Mike" had to say, I have been much more positive about the way in which the country is moving. For every Mike there are thousands of others out there who feel the same way he does. It gave me hope that there might be deep and abiding shifts going on in the heartland, changes that have been missed by the mainstream media.

I hope this is true. It would awful if "Mike" was an anomaly and not a trend.

Sunday, May 20, 2007, 1:43 PM EDT: Post updated to add heading "News Hounds Editorial" - MT