11/13/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

We Don't Need to Fight Dirty

I'm taking my cues from Barack Obama. I'm staying above the fray.

Obama is not getting in the mud with Mccain and Palin and all those who have been driven to act like an Islamist mob that has seen cartoons of Mohammad, driven into such a frenzy that, according to press reports, they have shouted "racial epithets" at innocent bystanders. Hmmm. Which epithet could that be? Maybe, "You crazy black person, you"?

No matter that the "n-word" apparently has "reared its head," borrowing one of Palin's favorite phrases (I would borrow other Palin phrases but I think the grammar checker on my Microsoft Word might sizzle and explode), Obama has kept his cool. So I am committed to doing the same.

What Obama knows and what we can emulate is this: we can offer a poised defense, but we don't have to get down and dirty with the Republicans we encounter. We're ahead and it really serves no point. For all the spittle spewed, no minds will be changed. It's better to let them take swings at our shadows than to respond with over-heated jabs at their shuffling, Keating-Five crackpot and his Russia-viewing, ex-brother-in-law-hating running mate (like, um, that overheated jab).

This can be difficult -- especially if you're being baited, something that happens frequently when I'm with my liberal-media-bashing father, whom I love dearly, or my sister, who couldn't be a nicer person except if you get her on the subject of the Iraq War. We once had a screaming fight about whether Bush and company purposely misled the public about the reasons for going to war. She thought it was unthinkable. I thought I should check her head for signs of serious blows or some implanted microchip that the RNC might have delivered through hair-care products.

I have not had a shouting match with my sister since I covered her favorite doll with my magic marker art some 35 years ago. This recent brawl was at such a decibel level that we both were going hoarse. I was afraid we were heading to some sister-on-sister violence that would take the form of a Krystal versus Alexis catfight on Dynasty, but then she came at me with this staggering question. "What Kool-Aid have you been drinking, Jeannie?"

I was as speechless as if she'd just asked what Leprechauns washed my dishes at night. "Me? Me? Kool-Aid," I finally sputtered. The breathtaking absurdity of a card-carrying member of the Kool-Aid crowd asking me that question actually made me fold over in laughter.

This broke the tension and soon enough we found some way to make up and have since pretended the whole thing never happened (selective amnesia being essential for harmony at family beach house gatherings). But I know that I will not allow myself to reach such hysterics again.

In these last weeks of the campaign, while the dirt is really flying, I'm working on my altercation-avoidance methodology, which basically involves feigning a level of willful ignorance that too many Obama-opponents come by naturally.

If someone says to me, "Obama is friends with terrorists," I will respond, "Our friend walks her terriers by our house twice a day." If I were to be baited with, "Obama loves Muslims," I would come back with, "I bought some nice muslin for my kitchen curtains down at the Wal-Mart." And if I were to be told that "Obama just doesn't think like most Americans," I am going to say, "I'm off to church to praise the Lord."