I was at the market. My friend approached. We'd already said hi. This was the comeback. He looked around. I looked around. No one listening but the vegetables. I knew what was coming.
"It doesn't feel very good, does it?"
He didn't mean the air conditioning. We've been around. He meant the election.
Nope. This is, Fox friends, what Democrats are talking about when they aren't defending the home team — or attacking the visitors. This is known as the whispered aside. Whispered so no one will hear, and aside because where else?
The stories you may have heard about Hollywood thinking "He" is spending too much time in Hollywood? Yep. My neighbors think he is spending too much time creating traffic jams here, which, for all the efforts to land helicopters in dog parks (which my dogs don't much like), he plainly is.
But "Hollywood" (as the entertainment industry calls itself) is also right that swooping in here every other week to have your picture taken with rich celebrities and their even richer bosses doesn't do much for the "man of the people" routine.
The people complaining that they're seeing too much of him aren't just those stopped in traffic but also those in the receiving lines, who worry that the road to victory in Ohio may not snake through Beverly Hills.
All of these trips to Los Angeles also mean that no one can say word one about all of those photos of Republicans riding around in golf carts at the Cash Money Olympics in Salt Lake City, Utah, a weekend of high-priced schmoozing, with no traffic jams, organized by Mitt Romney.
Democrats have locked themselves into a game that, at the end of the day, they can't win. The other side has more golf carts, more golfers and, this year it seems, more heavy hitters.
That's the other thing people are whispering about between the tomatoes and the cukes. I hope I'm wrong about this, and I won't finger anyone for telling, but I'm hearing whispers about more than one so-called Democratic bigwig who has made his or her peace with President Obama's losing and his or her taxes not going up. Oh, sorry, they'd never put it that way, and they're certainly still giving and smiling and the like, but not quite as much as they could.
It's no secret that if Obama loses, taxes (if you are extremely rich, that is, and can afford to pay more but don't) are much less likely to go up than if he wins. And while liberals like to think of themselves (ourselves) as people who don't vote their incomes, it's certainly not irrelevant. And this much is always true: The less money some people give, the less money other people give. Who's on first and all that.
And Romney? Maybe he doesn't look quite so bad to some of the would-be mega-donors who might just settle for being generous this time. After all, he's a Wall Street guy, Bain, from Massachusetts, not crazy, not going to reintroduce abortion by coat hanger, not scary compared to Rick Perry or Rick Santorum or Newt Gingrich or whoever.
That's what I'm hearing anyway.
They're just whispers. Some good economic news, some bad Romney gaffes, and we may be singing again in the bakery aisle. Campaigns have their own beats, which mostly can be identified only in retrospect.
Maybe it's the pre-July 4 slump, to be followed by the post-July 4 leap. Or not. But sneaking around in grocery aisles is not a good place for Democrats to be heading into this election.
Susan Estrich is a best-selling author whose writings have appeared in newspapers such as The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Washington Post, and she has been a commentator on countless TV news programs. Read more reports from Susan Estrich — Click Here Now.