Living inside the Washington Beltway does affect your thinking. I would not have predicted the extent of the general public's rally to defend Chick-fil-A and the company executive who spoke his mind. Also, I would not have predicted that the counterdemonstration would fizzle as it did. When I first heard what the Chick-fil-A executive said, I thought that guy's career was over and he was probably taking a good chicken sandwich down with him.   

In Washington, we have mostly learned to become fashionably compliant, properly scripted or silent concerning the left's view on many issues; otherwise, you are deemed backward or worse — a bigoted hate-mongerer. If you are here too long, you begin to think you are smart, you see nuances everywhere, and you can almost always justify splitting the difference, not opposing bad policy and wrongheaded thinking. The next thing you know, you are considered a tame Republican and the bane of the tea party movement. Just ask Sen. Richard Lugar.  I don't think the people who turned out to support Chick-fil-A were bigoted or haters, but I do think they are angry that Washington isn't on their side.

Since I would have been wrong if I had tried to guess what the public response to the Chick-fil-A affair would have been, I won't try to tell readers what it all means or try to contort some rationale explaining how it is bad for President Obama or good for Mitt Romney, even though that is usually my instinct. This post isn't about that.

There is something to be learned from what happened that it is relevant to the 2012 presidential campaign, and I don't think it is necessarily about social issues or any particular group's desires or grievances. I hope better, more thoughtful observers and writers will tell us something useful about what transpired.

For me, the meaning and the motives that produced the large crowds are still a mystery, but at least two things are clear: 1. The left influences much of the thinking in Washington, including among conservatives, in subtle ways more than we like to admit. 2. A lot of people don't like being told what to think or what to do. The "thought police" and finger-pointers have worn out their welcome more than the Washington chattering class appreciates.

Romney and Obama, Republicans and Democrats, take notice.