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Capitol Latino

Politics, Culture, Reporters, Thieves

Last June I moved from St. Louis to Washington, D.C. on a one-way ticket to Baltimore.  I had $380 cash and a friend in Columbia Heights who told me I could stay with him until I got on my feet.  Six weeks later, I got a job waiting tables at an Establishment bar on Capitol Hill called Hawk ‘n’ Dove.  The next week I moved to The Hill, where I sublet a mattress in a Moroccan mischief-maker’s living room; and have since worked seven nights of most weeks as a waiter or bartender at “the nation’s top political bar” in the 300 block of Pennsylvania Avenue SE — three blocks from our nation’s Capitol and Supreme Court; two from our Library of Congress.

At Hawk ‘n’ Dove I’ve met hundreds of lobbyists and House & Senate staffers, dozens of congresspersons, a handful of Senators, reporters, interns, tourists, TEA Partiers, Gay Rights marchers and the Pro-Life crowd, etc.  And party of five male Baby Boomer tourists a month-or-so ago who ordered six free waters and two Nacho Supremes, one with chili and the other with chicken.

When I brought out the food I stopped a while at their table to ask them where they call home (Seattle); and what brings them to D.C. (to meet with “several lawmakers”); why?  

“He wasn’t even born in this country!” offered one of the men.  Really?  ”Heck no!  He was born in Kenya.  He’s not even an American citizen!”  Oh wow.  The Birther went on to tell me just how fucked my future is with Hussein Obama at our nation’s helm.  Another in the group who up until then had remained silent and tense suddenly spoke up:  ”If we can’t save this country through the Constitution it is absolutely essential to love Jesus…that way if we can’t stop Obama, we can protect our souls, at least!”

Hmmm…well put, sir.  More water?

The Birthers were in and out of Hawk ‘n’ Dove in 40 minutes.  They tipped me $14 in cash on a $25 bill, and returned to Hawk ‘n’ Dove the following night the next night where Kid James got their table, as I was behind the bar.  I’ve not seen them since, and don’t expect that I will.   When I told Old Karl in the kitchen that we’d been visited again by the Birthers, he said, “The wha?”  Birthers.  ”Maaaaan, what’s that?”  Birthers say Obama wasn’t born in this country.    

Old Karl paused a moment to digest what I’d just said.  ”OK, well then where do they say he was born at?”  These guys say he was born in Kenya.  ”Now what in the hell does that have to do with the price of tea in D.C.?”  

I told Big Karl that if Obama wasn’t born here, he can’t legally be president.  ”Can they prove that he’s from…?” Kenya? “Yeah…” No. “So then what’s the problem?”

I didn’t want to say it, and didn’t need to; Big Karl already knew.  He sighed long and slow; then sadly lowered his gaze, shook his head, and said, “Lemme tell you something:  people like that…they gonna hate Obama no matter what he does because they don’t care what he does.  Just because he did it is enough for them go against him — not against “it”, you know: the thing being discussed or…proposed or whatever — but against him, the man.  They gotta make it personal because you know what?” He paused.  ”Deep down, people like that, in their heart of hearts, are racist.  They dont wanna see a black man in charge.”  

Again he paused.  ”And when they leave here,” he continued slowly, solemnly, exhausted, “you know what they gonna call Obama…their own commander-in-chief?”  Yes. ”They gonna call him nigga.”

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