"When in polite society," my grandfather opined, "never talk about religion or politics." Then he would dismiss himself from said "polite society" and talk about nothing but religion and politics.
Mostly, he talked about politics and believe me, he had a lot to say on subject. Much cannot be repeated in polite society or any other society.
All I know about politics I learned from my grandfather and yet, to this day I don't know if he was a Republican or a Democrat. He prided himself in being an independent thinker.
He was so much an independent thinker that often he would take opposite side of an argument.
For more than 20 years, he served in Department of Transportation regardless of political party in office at time. In fact, he was only person who never got fired when a new administration came to power. Every new administration thought he was on their side.
If a Republican was in office, he talked Republican and when a Democrat was in office, he talked Democrat. "It doesn't matter what you say," he once told me, "once inside that voting booth you are always boss." Then with a devious smile he would repeat, "always."
Few things in life he respected more than that voting booth. He deemed it a sacred obligation to vote and never missed a chance to exercise his American citizenship duty.
It was simply impossible to know how he voted. The secrecy of his vote was most precious thing he knew and could never understand why people boasted of who they were voting for.
I suspect, and I have no reason to really know this, he probably voted people "out of office" rather than in. Just a hunch I have, but will never know for sure.
During recent political campaign I heard phrase, "the devil is in details." The first time I heard that phrase it came from my grandfather. But he always said it a little differently. "The devil," he stated, "is in de tales." Then he would slap his knee and roar with laughter.
At time, I laughed with him but I really did not know full import of his little joke. Thirty years later, I'm beginning to understand what my grandfather was talking about and I'm inclined to believe he was right on money.
It is not "details" that gives so much trouble, it is insistence of "de tales," where devil lies. It is probably as difficult for a politician to tell straight truth as it is for a porcupine to go into business blowing up balloons for birthday parties.
My grandfather taught me that for a politician truth equals "fact" plus "spin." The spin, he alleged, was much more important than fact. According to my grandfather, any politician worth his salt can take any fact and spin it to make him look like winner.