Straddle This

As George W. moves ever closer to the middle, Durst wonders what campaign issues might possibly be left for the candidates to disagree on.


Well, looky here. It turns out George W. Bush may actually be smarter than a bucket of moss-covered rocks. Well, brighter than your average shrub, or at least clever enough to figure out compassionate conservatives don’t pay for rich people’s pork by skipping across the scalps of the poor with mountain-climbing cleats. When the Republican Congress first floated the idea of stalling earned income tax credits, the idea was every right-thinking GOPer would fall in line with the same practiced goose step they’ve perfected since Newt Gingrich first trained his revolutionary army in the black surgical budget arts. Of course every GOPer since then has lost the presidency.

Sending the party leaders a wake up call loud enough to annoy Pete Townsend, Georgie must have decided the nomination was already sewn up, so it was time to position himself for the general election, which definitely means butt splinters o’ plenty from fence straddling. And definitely not treating the middle class like stepping stones on the way to Capital Gains Reduction Valhalla.

A far-thinking Republican. Who’da thunk? Maybe the guy really is Reagan redux. Maybe he will reshape the Republican Party into the party of the little guy. A party with its focus on the future rather than the next quarterly dividend. A party that cares about carbon units instead of corporate interests. Of working families instead of special interests.

Yeah, right. You got a better chance of Pat Robertson sponsoring a needle exchange program in Havana. Or Don Knotts playing Rhett Butler in the next Gone With The Wind sequel. Or finding a factory-installed CD player in a ’54 Studebaker Commander. You get the picture.

Every political consultant worth his tasseled loafers these days has learned the secret of positioning the candidate so close to the middle, I’m constantly surprised their ads don’t feature double yellow lines down the center of their foreheads. Clinton was the first Democrat to learn it. The Republicans had “Family Values,” Bill came up with “Families First.” Gore learned his tricks from the same trough, you watch. It’ll turn out he too is pro-good/anti-bad. Who knew?

Bush’s battlefield conversion is but the beginning. In the next 13 months we’re guaranteed to see more cloaking devices than a Romulan fleet. Smokescreens designed to make David Copperfield more envious than photos of Claudia Schiffer lapdancing with Cindy Crawford.

Projected onto the candidates malleable features will be holographic recreations of all the great American heroes; Teddy Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Harriet Tubman … all right, admittedly, a line will be drawn. And the speeches. Oh, the speeches. The ones that will pinpoint them within a hint of a whisper of a shadow of hazy. Here’s a few of the crucial convictions we can expect to become privy to:

  • Crime is bad and there’s too much of it. What we need is less crime.

  • My opponent would rather raise taxes than pet his dog. As a matter of fact he doesn’t even own a dog.

  • I come from a family, I have a family, I think families are grand.

  • Campaign finance reform is crucial, but not as crucial as jobs.

  • We are more like we are now than we have ever been before and it is because of us.

  • We are more like we are now than we have ever been before but it is not our fault.

  • Schools are very important but prisons are more very important.

  • Public transportation is a wonderful thing and other people should be encouraged to use it.

  • What government needs today is more people like you, and I am one of you.

  • We must sweep away the debris of yesterday and build on the solid foundation of tomorrow.

    Will Durst believes the future is yet to come. Durst Case Scenario appears weekly on the MoJo Wire.