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Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2002 / 10 Kislev, 5763

Art Buchwald

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Preaching democracy | Believe it or not, the State Department has a division dedicated solely to converting dictatorships to American Democracy.

Harvey Cable is a member of the team and has just been sent to Afghanistan to show the new leaders how our system works.

I take you to Kabul.

Harvey is speaking to Hamid Karzai, the Afghan president. "You must have honest elections so the people will have faith in your country."

Karzai nods and replies, "We've never had an honest election."

"First you have to have foolproof voting hardware. I have been instructed by President Bush to supply Afghanistan with thousands of voting machines."

Karzai says, "I read that they don't work."

"They still have a few bugs in them, but I'm sure you people will work them out. Now the most important thing in a free election is money. You can't have an election without it."

"How much?"

"Millions and millions of dollars. There is no such thing as enough money in a political campaign."

Karzai says, "How do I raise it?"

"You're the president. You go around the country and tell your countrymen that if they don't give you money the other party will win."

"Wait a minute," Karzai says. "My people are poor and can hardly afford it."

"That isn't where the big money will come from. It will come from lobbyists."

"What's a lobbyist?"

"It's someone who tells the elected officials how they should vote. For example, the lobbyist representing the opium industry will inform you how he wants you to vote on poppy subsidies. Lobbyists are what make the election process in America so fair."

Karzai says, "I read in the Kabul Times that the American legislators voted not to allow anyone to give them money."

Harvey says, "That was just a joke. Hamid, if you are going to have an honest election you have to know the difference between hard money and soft money. Soft money is the best because it's given for favors. Congress passed a law against soft money, but it has more holes in it than there are caves in the Tora Bora mountains."

"The trouble is we don't have states. We have provinces and tribes ruled by warlords. I don't think they would go for a free election or even give money to the candidates. How can we win an election against the warlords?"

"You can play hardball like we do in the states. If we don't agree with someone in an American election, we put a dirty commercial on the air."

"Like what?"

"You say Ismail Khan, your opponent from Herat, uses torture, rapes women and beats people who won't vote for him. You're only telling the truth."

"I don't mind making a dirty commercial, but there is only one trouble with that. We have very few sets to show them on."

"I'm sure President Bush will give you all the television sets you need."

"Thank you, Mr. Cable. You have shown us the way."

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Art Buchwald's latest book is "We'll Laugh again." To commnt on his column click here.

11/04/02: The blame game
10/30/02: The threat of golf
10/11/02: The wives of Hidden Valley
10/04/02: Will the real Saddam stand up?
10/01/02: To shred or not to shred
09/20/02: Plea-bargaining crime
09/17/02: Jack and Jane
09/12/02: Signing books is half the fun
09/10/02: To lose one's center
09/05/02: Moot court
08/29/02: I spy-you-spy
08/27/02: No smoking --- I love you
08/23/02: Ashes to ashes
08/14/02: Wall Street good news
08/09/02: Things in my attic
08/01/02: Damage control
08/01/02: Another icon
07/30/02: Draft all the lawyers
07/25/02: House for rent
07/23/02: Doin' time
07/19/02: The loophole game
07/16/02: Money as a game
07/11/02: Just desserts
07/02/02: So you want to win?
06/19/02: Homeland security parking
06/13/02: The Accused
06/11/02: Don't let them know
06/06/02: The FBI changes its ways
06/04/02: RED ALERT
05/28/02: Malice On Purpose: I'm scared!
05/23/02: Barbie Doll
05/21/02: Why Bermuda?
05/19/02: White collar prisons
05/15/02: Those in depression
05/09/02: Mother's Day in the market
05/07/02: Salary negotiations
04/26/02: Homeland security
04/24/02: The greatest breakthrough
04/18/02: Conflict of Interest
04/15/02: The Sign That Couldn't
04/11/02: It's Cherry Blossom Time
04/08/02: The Young Audience
03/31/02: Safe Deposit for Sale
03/26/02: Au Revoir to Soft Money
03/21/02: Andersen Defense Fund?
03/19/02: Celebrity kickers
03/15/02: A Mickey Mouse solution
03/13/02: Shadow government in the sandbox
03/07/02: The Way It Is
03/05/02: Not telling the truth
03/01/02: Book flogging
02/27/02: The players are mad

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