Voter's Guide 2000
By Rob Terrell
Note: Today I was supposed to post a fun new Van Gogh Gogh web toy, a nifty game designed by Charles called "Bully Pong." However, you'll have to merely imagine the fun you'll someday be having with it, because an important step in the software creation process, the step where people coordinate working together on a project, got overlooked. Sorry folks. I'm a programmer, not a Photoshop jockey.
So Instead, I'm going to ramble about the election for a bit. I did it once before and it went over pretty well. However, this year there's not quite so much good material to work with.
You see, the voter education pamphlets are crappier than last time. Very lean, indeed. Where's the personal statements filled with bad logic and poor grammar? Where's the embarrassing photographs of the candidates? There's not much for a hack comedy writer to work with here if I can't ridicule a politician's moustache.
And although I must be glad that the state didn't squander more piles of my tax dollars hiring careless printers to use runny ink on the cheapest paper only to get the registration wrong in the end, the state did spend what I can only assume was a far bigger pile of my tax dollars putting all of this information on the internet. All of the election information is available as both HTML and PDF files. Which means: not only did the state pay some underqualified skate punk piles of my dead presidents to make the web pages, they also paid some surly graphic artist to design and lay out all that text in Quark or Photoshop despite the fact that they didn't bother to actually run the files through the Linotype.
My god, the propositions in the last election were priceless. Indian casinos and fifty-cent taxes on packs of cigarettes and banning the sale of horsemeat? That's the voice of the people, god damn it. The loud, warbling voice of some very nutty people.
This year we get bupkiss. The propositions are all serious, level-headed attempts to right wrongs in our society (i.e. proposition 36) or undo the previous righting of a wrong (i.e. proposition 34). So there's just no much funny there.
Go back and read about 1998's propositions. They were much funnier.
Back in 1992, moments after President Bush (the first one) got his ass kicked Arkansas-style, he began his concession speech by saying, "If Clinton runs the country anything like he ran his campaign, we have nothing to worry about." And the converse must also be true: based on their campaign performances thus far, I don't want either of these candidates' grubby paws on the hidden buttons and secret levers and lost remote channel-changers of government.
I heard somewhere that in every U.S. Presidential election ever held, the guy with the longer last name was the winner. (I heard this prior to the theory-crushing Bush-Dukakis debacle.) However, along with relative heights -- the taller guy usually wins -- it's a pretty good predictor of who gets the free greens fees and helicopter rides. This year, we've got two guys of basically the same height with four-letter last names -- and they're stuck in a statistical dead heat. So there's no easy way to lay Vegas odds this one.
I don't envy the work ahead of you. You'll get to pick between the loser fratboy cokehead -- whose only business success came because his financial partners wanted to make the son of the sitting President happy -- and the bumbling pathological liar who somehow turned co-stewardship over the strongest economy in history into the closest Presidential race in history.
How can any sane person vote for Bush? The guy makes a pithed frog look like Neils Bohr. It boggles my mind, the way some people really like this guy. Like my Mom -- she really thinks he's the Perfect Husband and the Second Coming all wrapped into one. My mother thinks Bush's wild coke-snorting middle age period proves that he's "just human." While she simultaneously thinks Clinton's pot-smoking college years are high treason. Yeah, we know what Bush'll do about the war on drugs. Step up the drug seizures! And hey, you can store those seized drugs in the White House!
Gore's not much better. I was going to go off equally on Gore, but I've sort of lost my zeal. Why kick the guy when he's down? He has one week to turn the tide. Newsweek magazine has already corononated Bush. Besides, why should I highlight the flaws Bush's minions are spending millions to tell you about? Especially if Gore's minions aren't bothering to defend him?
How's the guy going to run the country if he can't win a debate against the empty suit? This is the Democrat their party had been dreaming of for years -- and he somehow turned a fairly conservative voting record, support for the Gulf War, and actual service in Vietnam (instead of Bush asking Daddy to help him get into the National Guard) into liabilities. The guy's amazing.
He takes a true story -- like the one about some girl standing in her school because there aren't enough seats in the classroom -- and ends up acting guilty like he made the whole thing up. Al, if you're listening: you don't get to be President by apologizing in the debates. You can apologize during the primaries (like Clinton) or after you're in office (like Clinton) but you can't apologize for lying on the campaign trail!
It's been pointed out to me that the only reason you can nitpick Gore's details is because, between the two of them, he's the only one offering enough nits to pick. Bush talks in broad featureless platitudes and no one calls him on it. When he does venture into details, he really steps in it (i.e. talking about executing all three of James Bird's killers with a big shit-eating grin on his face; taking credit for all that wonderful legislation in Texas that passed over his veto) but again no one calls him on it. The guy's platform is all broad strokes and primary colors. I'm just surprised he hasn't wrapped himself in a U.S. flag like his dad did on the stump.
I'm already dreading the years of smug Republican satisfaction. These people will be unbearable. Will George Will's puckered-asshole of a mouth finally crack a smile? My god. What will the inauguration celebration be like? A million self-righteous college Republicans descending on Washington for a massive kegger on the mall? Followed by drunkenly date-raping the League of Women Voters?
I don't envy your choice at all. My choice is made, and I'm quite happy with it, but I don't envy you. You've got a tough call to make. Good luck. Don't fuck it up for the rest of us.
What about Nader? You may ask. It's simple: I don't think Nader can head the government. Being President -- effectively the CEO of the corporation we call America -- is a tough job, and it's even tougher if you're an anti-corporate raider who has alienated every sitting congressman by burning their every big-money constituent.
This ain't some popularity contest, some high school election where being class president means little more than getting to hang crepe paper in the gym for the passion-under-the-sea homecoming dance. This job requires an able executive (Gore) or a figurehead who delegates to lots of able friends (Bush).
Sorry, Ralph. I like what you have to say. I agree with your concerns. I like the issues you raise. But you can't do the job. Get some more experience in the real world and we'll look at your application in four years.
And In Conclusion...
Folks, get out there and vote. Vote early, vote often. And here's my campaign promise: I promise that next time it's my turn to update the web site, you'll have a fun game to play instead of my painful ranting about how everything kinda sucks.
The odds are about as good as any campaign promise you'll hear this year.