Commuters jammed the train. As one commuter exited, another immediately sat down next to me.
"Oh, it's you," he said. "I remember you. "
I remembered him too.
"Listen," he said, opening his laptop. "I'm not interested in discussing politics with you. We have different points of view. You're not going to convince me of anything and I'm probably not going to change your mind either."
I nodded. He was right. What's the point of having a discussion with someone when you already know the outcome? I looked out the window, content to count the rapidly passing trees.
He turned to me, "So, what did you think of your boy Obama's speech the other night?"
My boy Obama? "I thought you didn't want to discuss politics."
"I don't. I was just wondering what you thought about his speech. He went on and on -- must've been 45 minutes. "
"You want my opinion on the length of his speech?"
"Never mind." He turned his attention back to his computer screen.
"What was your opinion of the Congressman from South Carolina, Joe Wilson, yelling "You lie!" at the President." I asked him.
"It may not have been appropriate, but it was an honest display of emotion."
"So if someone assaults someone who they disagree with, the fact that it was an honest display of emotion ought to square things?" I asked. "That wouldn't fly in a courtroom. Sorry I shot those people, your honor, but it was an honest display of emotion."
"You're making a big deal out of a little outburst," he said dismissively.
"It would be more credible if Wilson and others like him showed their distaste of government sponsored health care by giving up their own government sponsored health care."
"He said he was sorry, what more do you want?" he countered.
"I'm sorry I had sex with your wife said your neighbor."
"It's offensive that an elected official behaved like a drunk in a barroom during a Presidential speech. Whether you agree with him or not, Obama is the president and there is supposed to be a respect for that office. You talk about family values and role models, what kind of message is his behavior sending?" I asked.
"This is just another example of the left trying to demonize the right."
"I admit I do have a fundamental problem with people showing up armed at town hall meetings, shouting down others who disagree then taking that same kind of disruptive behavior into a presidential speech. It stretches the boundaries of acceptable behavior. What happened to civilized debate?"
"I feel bad for Joe Wilson. He's being made an example of."
"This is the best thing that ever happened to him," I countered. "A few days ago nobody knew who he was, now everybody does. He certainly couldn't get a national reputation for his accomplishments in Congress."
"Listen, a lot of people just want their America back," He was agitated.
"Are you talking about the Navajos?"
"I'm talking about almost two and a half million people who showed up in Washington to protest health care reform and the direction of this administration." He was getting more agitated.
"Where did you come up with that number?"
"That was the official estimate, " he said.
"You lie!" I shouted. "Associated Press estimated the crowd to be tens of thousands, ABC news reported 60,000-70,000. Freedomworks, the organizer of the march estimated "hundreds of thousands" on their own website."
"These were estimates from bloggers who were there-"
"I guess you're right," I agreed. "People like me have been unreasonable about hearing the other side of the health care debate. What is the other side of the debate?"
"The current plan provided coverage for illegal immigrants until that was brought to light."
"You lie!" I shouted.
"I beg your pardon?"
I continued,"You lie about the plan covering illegal immigrants, you lie about health care reform leading to socialized medicine, you lie about care being denied to the elderly, you lie about the government eliminating Medicare, you lie about the President brainwashing our children-"
"That's unfair, untrue and rude-"he interrupted.
"In fact, the success of "Cash for Clunkers" is being combined with health care reform so sick old people can be traded in for younger, healthier ones. Your grandparents could end up being younger than you -- and you get a new car in the trade."
"Now you're being ridiculous-"
"Maybe if I say it loud enough and often enough people will believe it - it works for you."
He angrily snapped his laptop shut.
"There are legitimate questions about the costs," I said, "how it will be paid for, what services would be affected, how it will be implemented, what is included, what isn't - rational questions for a rational discussion-"
"I'm not interested in your idea of rational discussion." He got up to leave as the train screeched to a halt. "Our country is at risk of a government takeover of our health care system."
"I agree with you."
He looked back at me, puzzled. "You agree?"
"I agree that you're not interested in having a rational discussion."
He turned away, muttering, "You lie," under his breath.