By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Sept. 23, 1999
Dear Mr. Fuentes,
A few weeks ago, I talked to Will Swaim, the editor of the OC Weekly. He told me you sent him a letter—about me! According to Will, you said it was "awkward" to address a photo to me as a "friend" and "respectfully declined" my request. In other words, pass the word along: "Adios, Nathan."
Boy, was I disappointed.
I know we haven’t formally met, but what’s wrong with being pen pals? Writing is more refined than a phone call or a quick lunch. It can help organize your ideas and prevent misinterpretations. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had second thoughts about what I’ve said in a conversation.
I know you can relate. In August 1985, you told the Los Angeles Times, "I simply cannot fathom how even well-intentioned Democrats can remain naive about the evils their party has wrought across the great American political landscape. It’s a little like good Germans denying the existence of the Holocaust."
I bet you had second thoughts about saying that! Democrats may be stupid, but I’m sure you didn’t mean to say that they’ve edged the U.S. toward the Third Reich. Later on, you said that the quote was "taken very much out of context," that it was part of a long conversation about the Democratic Party’s position on abortion.
Do you see what I mean about conversation? If you had written your thoughts, I’m sure Hitler wouldn’t have made it to the final draft.
Or how about when you were talking to the Times about political-party registration? "I can tell you the registration of the people in the house by observing the neatness of the lawn and what cars are in the driveway," you said. I can’t imagine that’s what you meant. That’s like saying you could discern a homeowner’s religious beliefs by looking at his car.
Then there’s the incident with Judge Judith Ryan, who opposed Bob Dornan in the 1992 Republican primary. Ryan said you tried to stop her from entering the race by threatening to ruin her family’s business. That’s got to be a misunderstanding. Again, my friend—may I call you "friend"?—if you had composed a note to her, I’m sure she would have understood whatever it was you were trying to say.
Anyway, after Will told me about your "Adios, Nathan" letter, I sulked for a couple of weeks. I’m always reminded of you by that blank space on my office wall where your autographed picture should be hanging. Then last Sunday, I saw the movie Braveheart on NBC and remembered that it’s one of your favorites. You once said it reminds you that—like the Scottish rebels—the Republican Party is fighting against the odds. And you know what? Call me William Wallace and paint my face blue, but I decided right then that I’m not going to give up either.
Just to show that I write in good faith, I’ve enclosed a photo of myself. As you’ve probably already noticed, I signed it:
To Mr. Fuentes: "It’s our wits that make us men." Your friend, Nathan Callahan.
William Wallace’s father said that—at least he did in the movie.
You can never have too many friends, Mr. Fuentes. Write me if you’d like. And how about that autographed photo?
Sincerely, your friend,
P.S. Will also told me that you can’t imagine anyone wanting a photograph of you. Don’t be so coy, Mr. Fuentes. You’re a good-looking, famous man. Get used to it.
Dec. 17, 1999
Dear Mr. Fuentes,
Boy, you must be busy. I completely understand why you haven’t sent me your autographed photo yet. You’ve been out registering new Republicans ever since that Sept. 24 Orange County Register story appeared! What a headline! REPUBLICANS DIP BELOW 50 PERCENT IN REGISTERED VOTERS FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 1984.
Who do you think is responsible for this decline: Clinton Republicans? They’d be first on my list of suspects.
I’m sure you remember Roger Johnson—that turncoat Republican CEO of Western Digital who endorsed Clinton in 1992 and then went on to be named director of Slick Willy’s general services administration. Johnson was the first domino to fall. In 1996, more Republicans—including Mayor Tracy Wills Worley of Tustin, ex-Orange County Supervisor Harriet Weider and Central Committee Member Bill Dougherty—endorsed Clinton for re-election. To top it off, Dougherty called the Orange County Republican Central Committee "an incestuous mob of fellow sycophants who are either on the public payroll as assistants to some Republican office holder or fat-cat corporate lobbyists." Dougherty even got personal when he said that "your leadership and your bigoted Right wing of the party has led us down the path of defeat." You got him back, though, when you called him a "Vichy Republican," comparing him to the French politicians who collaborated with the Nazis during World War II.