I was halfway through my morning coffee when I looked up to see Big Freddy, totally bundled up, making his way to our booth.
“You’re well insulated this morning,” I said as he began to peel back his top layer.
“Like old times,” he said as he shoved his overcoat into the bench seat corner.
“Global unwarming,” I said.
“Reminds me of winters when we were a lot younger,” Freddy said.
“And a lot tougher,” I said.
“Which is why I’m a great backer for global warming,” Freddy said. “Fuel prices are up the bazoo.”
“Well, it wasn’t all that cold down in Washington for the inaugural on Monday,” I said.
“Obama saw to that,” Freddy said. “Turned up the wick on the GOP big-time.”
“Not your regular inaugural address,” I said.
“Not by a long shot,” Freddy said. “Figures he’s got the Grand Old Party on the run, which you can’t blame him for thinking because it’s been shooting itself in the foot, politically speaking.”
“Well, it certainly would appear so,” I said.
“Over-reaching will do that, short term,” Freddy said.
“With the far right in the House going too far?” I asked.
“It happens,” Freddy said. “Far Right, Far Left — history’s full of it. It’s all about power — the revolution thing. It was why the Democrats lost the House. Now, it’s the Republicans on the receiving end there. Their House majority weathered the election, but they’re going to have to move more to the middle to hold on to what they have two years from now.
“We’ve lived through how many ups and downs of both parties? Go too far, it’s Katy bar the door for the one in power.”
“Democrats took some House seats back, but Republicans still rule it,” I said.
“Not for long if Obama has his way,” Freddy said. “That’s why his inaugural address was more of a campaign speech than a ‘let’s bury the hatchet everybody and just get along’ that inaugurals are usually all about.
“At heart, Obama’s a social worker. That’s what he did in Chicago before he ran for public office. Social workers have to overcome obstacles to make government work. Obama sees Republicans as obstacles.
“The far right sees Democrats wanting to give away the store. Nothing new about that. And you and I are old enough to remember how it really began with FDR. Talk about a revolution? Banners everywhere. Parades. Headlines in newspapers like Roosevelt was a revolutionary, which in more ways than the usual one, he was.”
“That was 82 years ago, when he was planting the roots for what we have today,” I said.
“Which Obama’s going all out to spread them as wide and as deep as he can,” Freddy said.
“Which means more government in our lives,” I said.
“The beating heart of what divides us,” Freddy said. “Reagan put his finger on it. He saw the government of his time as the problem back then. Obama does now. Considering the size of the debt load we’re carrying —which is so big nobody can. That’s going to be someone else’s problem, and our great, great, great grandchildren will still be trying to pay it off. “
“Everything didn’t come up roses from Reagan’s watch,” I said.
“Because Clinton moved toward the middle to seal off a letdown, and it worked,” Freddy said.
“Where we can’t seem to be able to stay very long,” I said.
“Put hard-line politics on hold forever? Perish the thought,” Freddy said.
Bill Plante is a Newbury resident and a staff columnist.