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— I thought I'd better look for some military people to make my survey more thorough. In case you've wondered, it doesn't work to walk up to the front gate at the Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and ask to speak to Marines. A guard with an M-16 angled down in front of him let me know as much. But he was kind enough to tell me that some Marines like a bar called JD Pub a little to the west, down Miramar Road. I could probably find a few there.

Since it was Labor Day, however, I struck out. But JD Pub's proprietor, Jay Jensen, told me, "By far, most of the Marines that talk politics in here are for Bush. I may have heard a couple of Kerry supporters, but that's all."

Next door is Club Exposé, a "gentleman's club" that advertises "live girls." The club's doorman, Jesse Sunly, said Marines who come there don't talk politics. But he wanted to. "I like Bush because he supports our country; he supports our troops going to war. It was a tough decision doing that. He takes a big stand against terrorism. Kerry doesn't do that. This guy says, 'I voted for the war before I voted against it.' What's he saying, exactly?"

Sunly is 24 but didn't want to be associated with the political views of most young people, "who don't understand what Bush is doing. I'm getting older and understand things better than I used to. These college kids don't understand, yet they're going to be leading our country. One thing they complain about is low-income families fighting the war. But at least the low-income families want to be there, get ahead in the military, and help out the country. It's better than drafting people. In fighting a war like this, you have to have people that want to be there. Because the terrorists are ready to die for their cause."

Martin Brennan came to San Diego from Ireland in 1980. Before arriving, he established himself as a speechwriter for the Fine Gael, which is the second-largest political party in the Republic of Ireland. When Brennan returns to Ireland, often several times each year, he goes back to work for the party. His political work in Ireland gives him a unique perspective on American presidential races.

"I'm having a great time with this particular presidential election," said Brennan, "because a regional radio station in the west of Ireland has asked me to contribute at various intervals my perspective from a Kerry point of view. I do on-air interviews with Galway Bay FM radio. When they ask me for a little balance on some of the conservative or Republican points of view, it's been my pleasure to set the record straight."

A resident of Rancho San Diego, Brennan tends bar at The Ould Sod on Adams Avenue. He lived in Pacific Beach, Allied Gardens, and North Park before moving to East County. The traditional contrast between conservative East County and the more liberal or moderate city of San Diego is not up to date, he thought. "There is tremendous diversity out there that people haven't tapped into yet because they look only at things like upper-income Mount Helix and La Mesa neighborhoods or accusations that the school board is controlled by the Christian right." Brennan believes the reason for the change is that San Diego residents are moving to East County for its less expensive housing.

Brennan had discovered Al Franken's show on AM 1360. "I've quite enjoyed it," he said. "It does bring a little bit of balance to AM radio, which to this point in San Diego has been very conservative. Nevertheless, if you look at these radio stations and the people that are presenting their perspective, they're very biased and they're not terribly informative. One is trying to outdo the other in taking cheap shots. It's all very well for me to say that Al Franken is an outstanding journalist and apply the same rule of thumb to criticize Rush Limbaugh. But all of them are primarily entertainers."

One of the aspects of American politics that amazes the Irish, according to Brennan, is voter apathy. "I think it's particularly important that Americans go out and vote in big numbers," he said. "For participants in a democratic style of government that we are extending to other parts of the world at great cost in lives, injuries, and money, it looks very poor to market that style of government [abroad] when it is treated apathetically at home."

Voter turnout for the current presidential race is likely to be higher than in recent years, Brennan said. So which way did he think that San Diego was leaning in the presidential race? "I've noticed in recent months a definite upsurge in Kerry bumper stickers," he says.

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