Magazine article The American Conservative

Manchester Disunited

Magazine article The American Conservative

Manchester Disunited

Article excerpt

Ten days after that space in time occupied by the triumph of the placeless Obama over the even more placeless McCain, 55 delegates, observers, and persons of interest to the Department of Homeland Security gathered at the downtown Radisson in Manchester, New Hampshire to discuss ways by which they might leave the country while standing their ground. 'Twas the Third North American Secessionist Convention, hosted by the Middlebury Institute and its anarcho-witty director, Kirkpatrick Sale.

I drove to Manchester via Governor Dewey's New York State Thruway and President Eisenhower's Interstate and Defense Highway System--Republicans were into socialist giantism long before the Bushes burned. In the passenger seat sat Pat Weissend, curator of our local history museum and one of the nation's foremost grave hunters. (I told Pat I was going to report that he sang Air Supply tunes all the way to New Hampshire, but I cannot tell a lie. He did hum Bon Jovi--same difference.) En route we detoured to Natick, Massachusetts to find Henry Wilson, Grant's second vice president, and while I was sitting in a room the next day listening to rambling speeches in the momentarily radicalized Radisson, Pat was getting lost in Boston scouting out dead Unitarians. There are lots of them.

The conference was duller than those of previous years, perhaps because the imminent de-Ovalizing of George W. Bush has produced a collective sigh of relief. That will last until Secretary of State Clinton cheerleads the American war machine's bombing of some rag-tag Muslim country for its insufficiently feminist domestic policies.

At the convention, I was delighted to visit with my friend Carolyn Chute, the Maine novelist and voice of the rural poor, whose new novel, The School on Heart's Content Road, marks her very welcome return. I also joked around with the hearty Dexter Clark, the gold miner (proprietor of "Mining Our Own Business") and vice chairman of the Alaskan Independence Party, whose hardy crew of go-it-aloners has a fellow traveler in Alaska's First Family. Governor Sarah on the stump was no more a secessionist than Mitt Romney, but as Dexter points out, "she slept with an AIP member for seven years" and surely something rubbed off, so to speak.

The whiff of crackpottery trailed a handful of the delegates. They are easily mocked, though I prefer to spray whatever bile I produce at people who do real harm--Masters of War, Defilers of the Republic--than at a helium-voiced, 51-year-old, polyester-encased alien who fancies himself Ambassador from Uranus. …

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