I was in one of those custom-made 1970s Pontiac convertibles, outfitted for Elvis and other rock stars with bull’s horns on the front bumper, rifles and handguns pasted everywhere inside and out, encrusted with silver dollars and bullets—-a NRA fever dream of a bygone America that had been fashioned by a Russian immigrant named Nudie Cohn, who started by tailoring outlandish suits and went on to outfit bizarre cars for American idols with no taste and too much money.
In that improbable vehicle, I was separated by a saddle from an old friend in uniform, a Democratic activist, but we must have both looked like the dinosaurs who are now furnishing Romney with his lead over Obama.
Sitting there brought back memories of Elvis and Nixon and their strange 1970 White House meeting at which they agreed that the Beatles and drugs had endangered America. Elvis gave Nixon a Colt .45, and he reciprocated with a Bureau of Narcotics badge.
Seven years later, Elvis was dead on a bathroom floor of a drug overdose, and Nixon had resigned in the face of impeachment for White House crimes.
In this election year, ideological strife is back in new forms and the challenge for Barack Obama will be to win back older white men who long for an imagined America with the reality that he has been and will continue to be a Commander-in-Chief who has kept the country safe from foreign threats and divert their support from a cardboard warrior who vaguely promises to confront Iran, North Korea and any other “Axis of Evil” straw men he can find.
When he loses his bid for the White House, Romney can always acquire one of those vintage convertibles for his new California home with the car elevator and dream of a different outcome.