Word from Home:

I talked to my mother last night. I don't do that often. Normally when she calls the wife talks to her about artwork, which is their shared tie, or the little boy.

Still, Ivan blew through the mountains and I wanted to make sure the house was still standing, and that there was nothing she needed. My father is out of town, as he often must be, and she was alone. Everything was fine on that score.

She knows in a vague way what I do, and wanted to talk about politics and world events. My mother is not a very political person -- she gets interested once every four years, for the two months or so before the election. She is a self-described feminist, and as liberal as you're likely to find in the mountains of North Georgia -- that is, not too liberal to love Zell Miller in spite of his recent speech.

Like most sons, I long ago accepted that my mother would broadly disapprove of everything I do. It is therefore always a shock, though a pleasant one, to find that she doesn't: that she approves of my wife, loves her grandson, and is pleased with what I'm doing and why. It was also interesting to realize that she is supporting Bush this year.

She told me that she was ready for peace; that she's always wanted nothing but peace, even before 9/11, and even after. She was not in support of military action even in Afghanistan -- she felt that we ought not to have attacked anyone in the wake of 9/11.

But she knows we did, and that we are now engaged with the enemy. Whether or not we should be where we are, we are there.

And she knows she can't trust John Kerry in that situation.

She worries about his multiple statements on every issue; on his apparent dishonesty in everything he says. She doesn't agree with or approve of Bush, she says, but she knows he's telling the truth when he lays out his positions. She knows he means what he says, and she can rely on at least that much.

That's the real question this year, she says, and so she'll vote Bush. She wishes there were a third choice -- not Nader, but someone. This is not new; she was a Perot supporter in '92.

If you've lost my mother, you've lost a lot of liberal, feminist women. I agree with what is now common wisdom: the polls are wrong. But I think they're wrong in the other direction -- I think things are much worse for Kerry than they show.

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