Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Who is "Madstrider"?

"Madstrider" is the screen name of a Free Republic blogger who linked to my post on Ann Coulter's "Godless." And I promised Sunday that I would tell you a story or two about Madstrider.

First of all, Madstrider did a stint in the 101st Airborne back in the '70s. He was a handy fellow with his fists before he ever went to Fort Campbell, but he's even handier since. He might have lost a fight at some point in his life, but I've never heard of it. I do know that he's never backed down from a fight and, win or lose, you'd never want to fight him twice.

Madstrider drives a truck for a living, and he's always calling me to tip me off to some bit of news I've never heard before. Madstrider has a keen eye and a keen mind for politics.

It was Madstrider, for instance, who tipped me that Roy Barnes was going to lose the governor's race in Georgia in 2002. A mutual friend has a wife who's a school teacher near Atlanta, and Madstrider had been over to the friend's house and heard the school teacher wife denounce Roy Barnes' meddlesome top-down "standards" regime in Georgia public schools. Also, Barnes was pushing the corrupt "Northern Arc" highway project, which had made suburbanites especially angry. So Barnes, a Democrat, had alienated the teachers' unions, and had also made enemies of residents in Atlanta's most prosperous suburbs. And then Madstrider noticed that the Georgia flag -- the 1956 Confederate design that Barnes insisted on changing because the NAACP said it was "racist" -- was suddenly popping up all over the state. Between one thing and another, Barnes was very unpopular with a bunch of different people -- so unpopular, in fact, that he probably helped drag down Sen. Max Cleland with him when he got beat that November.

Here's something else about Madstrider: Never underestimate the intelligence of the working man. In a world where most kids with high SAT scores are trying to get into elite universities, it is tempting to think that all smart people wear ties and work in offices. For personal reasons, Madstrider dropped out of college -- where he was studying to be a pharmacist -- and joined the Army, and he has never looked back. Madstrider has a don't-take-no-crap attitude that probably disqualifies him for most office jobs. If he had to put up with the crap I've sometimes dealt with in Washington, D.C., I'm sure he would have knocked somebody into a coma by now. (Pencil-necked geek that I am, it's all I can do at times to resist the temptation to go upside somebody's head.)

Madstrider has made good money as a welder and a trucker -- more money than a lot of journalists in Washington make. His hobbies are writing, photography, rock-and-roll and Clint Eastwood movies. He likes to read Tom Clancy-style thrillers, history, science and politics. And he listens to a lot of talk radio while he's out driving that truck.

So just because Madstrider's a truck driver, don't make the mistake of thinking he's poor, or ignorant, or uncultured. My great respect for the American working man comes from my acquaintance with many, many people like Madstrider, although he is in several ways unique.

OK, here's one Madstrider story: His wife was home with a new baby, and to make some extra money, Madstrider took a job nights and weekends delivering pizza.

He is dispatched one night to deliver a pizza to an apartment complex near Six Flags. He walks into the vestibule of the apartment building, pizza in hand, and is confronted by two punks, one of whom aims a pistol at him. It's a setup: Call for a pizza, rob the deliveryman. One of the occupational hazards of the trade.

As soon as Madstrider sees the pistol, the hand-to-hand training comes back. With his right hand, he thrusts the pizza box in such a manner as to knock away the gun-wielding punk's pistol. With his free hand, he delivers a devastating punch to the punk's face -- at which point the second punk runs away. And the punk who had the gun probably wished he had run, too, rather than to be caught in that vestibule with an angry Madstrider.

If you ever want to hear some more Madstrider stories, let me know. But don't ever make him angry. I've seen him angry.

Madstrider collects comic books, and one of his favorites is "The Hulk." He loved the Bruce Banner line: "Don't make me angry. You wouldn't like me when I'm angry."

-- McCAIN