Opinion

Confessions of a serial block-walker

Photo of Ken Allard
Ken Allard
Retired U.S. Army Colonel
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      Ken Allard

      Colonel Ken Allard (U.S. Army, Ret.) is a draftee who eventually served on the West Point faculty, as dean of the National War College and as a NATO peacekeeper in Bosnia (which seemed like a huge deal at the time). His most recent book, Warheads: Cable News and the Fog of War, is a memoir of his 10 years as a military analyst with NBC News and MSNBC, where he and Tucker Carlson were conservatives-in-residence.

So I prefer working those decidedly un-gated communities in the shadow of SeaWorld, within commuting distance of Lackland AFB and Fort Sam Houston. Many active and retired military families live there, so I can tell them how Quico intervened personally to solve problems with my military pension. Close by are the split-level neighborhoods of the rising Latino middle classes, mostly small business owners uneasy about the impact of Obamanomics on taxes, health care and their own survival.

Both there and in poorer neighborhoods you can sense those same reservations — along with a notable reticence to discuss them. Maybe people are being torn in different directions, or maybe they simply fear being labeled as traitors to their ethnic heritages. But rarely do I get more than a minute to talk to a voter. Mostly they want you off their doorstep and gone, either because they’re busy or because they’re uncomfortable with their choices. That’s why I question the confident predictions about the race being made by the pollsters.

Mostly I focus on making the sale for Quico. One of the best came when a dignified abuela gave her grand-kids an object lesson in being courteous to the white-haired, sixty-something man on her doorstep. She thoughtfully examined the pictures on both sides of the campaign literature, pointed to Quico’s and exclaimed proudly, “Si! EL es mas guapo!” (Yes! HE is the most handsome one!). I shook her hand, thanked her and left. Sometimes in block-walking you just try to hit singles.

Colonel (Ret.) Ken Allard rose from draftee to Dean of the National War College. A former military analyst for NBC News, he is a prolific writer on national security issues and a neighborhood block-walker for the Francisco Canseco campaign.