Wednesday, July 23, 2008


Youngish male black voice: "This is XXXX with the Barack Obama campaign. I won't take much of your time, but I want to talk to you about how you can help us bring change to America. This call may be recorded for quality purposes"

Me: "Sorry, but I'm not thrilled with Obama right now, and I'm a little busy."

XXXX: "OK, I understand that, but I really won't take much of your time. Why aren't you happy with Barack?" [OK, he's been trained a little bit in phone sales, unlike the last guy who called, who was a hapless tool]

Me: "OK, let's start with one word: FISA."

XXXX: "Umm, Umm, umm, let me see, I understand that" (Sound of papers rustling in the background, then long pause). "Yes, yes, ummm, I understand that. In fact, I was a little bit disappointed by the FISA vote, too. But wouldn't you say that voting for a flawed bill that was necessary to protect the country was good?" [His scripting needs a lot of work, but he's trying. Probably, he doesn't get many comments about FISA, so wasn't ready for it, but it's interesting to me that they have a script dealing with FISA at all -- they are ready to cover all the bases. Had I been quicker on my feet I would have hit him with the experience thing next, just to see what the script they have is, but instead I was honest]

Me: "Well, I think you and I have a different idea of how to protect this country. Let's move on to something I think we can both understand. I don't like hearing Obama talk around the problems of the black community in a way that shows he clearly cares more about getting white votes than solving black problems."

xxxx: Silence [I grew up in the ghetto, but don't have the typical black accent, so he was probably stunned to hear a "white" voice say something like that, plus it's probably not something he's heard at all, or was trained to respond to. I was sort of aiming for this, to get an honest response out of him]

XXXX: "Well, well, I think Obama would bring a lot, bring, umm, I think if you want to see change, Obama can bring it." [My guess is he wanted to say something personal about how Obama's candidacy had inspired him to get involved (which is probably true), and so on, but had either been trained, or instinctively felt it was best, to leave race as far out of things as possible, so he was at a loss, and choked out a bit of a script as a reflex.]

Me: "OK, I think we've gone about as far as we can here, and I really am busy."

XXXX: "Ok, ok..."

Call ends.

It's a 100 days until the election, and these calls are already coming. That kid had some promise; if he sticks with it he'll probably be a pretty slick advocate for Obama's campaign in a few months -- assuming he's a volunteer and not some hired telemarketing hack, in which case he'll probably have moved on to some other job just when he's getting proficient at this one. Anyway, the Obama campaign pretty clearly means business. I never received one call like this in '04, and I donated money to Kerry in that cycle, haven't donated a dime to Obama in this one, and probably never will. The script was OK, and it was interesting that they have something for FISA already in the can. I wonder what else they have. The question about experience should have been asked, and had I been malicious, I could have asked about the chances of a black man winning in a racist country. Anyway, I despise Obama, but still want him to win, and as such, it's good to see he has an organization that might become competent enough to be a force. I especially liked the idea (and it's only an idea, a lot of poorly educated blacks end up working as telemarketers, so this might have been just another job for this guy), that Obama is sparkling an interest in black people to get involved. The only hope I have left for positive change coming from an Obama presidency is that black people will be energized by seeing one of us in charge of this nation. Let's hope that kid was an inspiree.