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Jewish World Review Nov. 15, 2000 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan, 5761

Dave Shiflett

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Now what will we do for fun? -- IS IT too early to long for the next election?

Even if one does not like the outcome of this edition of the Big Scrap, it did serve a noble purpose --- reminding us that while democracy is the best of all possible systems, it is also the work of a deeply flawed species. Or, to put it another way, that the cream rises to the top, but so does the grease.

First off, there was the incumbent, a man frightfully reminiscent of Principal Skinner from The Simpsons, though Skinner is the better man. He is no race-baiter, as Al Gore showed himself to be with his "strict constructionist" crack. More significantly, Gore's insistence that the campaign was a fight between good and evil indicates that he is now fully unhinged. If he wins it will indicate that full-blown hysteria has become an acceptable disposition. Mouth-breathers unite! Your Bolivar has arrived! Gore is spooky, not only because he's a raver, but because he raves in a subdued monotone. Back in the carefree 70s, this combination was common among devotees of animal tranquilizers.

Gore's campaign did its best to humanize him, which provided some of the more entertaining moments of his candidacy. This is not to say they always worked. Tipper's remark that he slept in the buff may have been meant to titillate the ladies, but those of us sitting across Gender Gap were hardly surprised by the revelation. We already knew a fellow doesn't need flannels when he's sleeping with a hoss like Tipper. We can almost hear Al crying out: Crack the window, dear, I'm starting to blister.

The Kiss, meanwhile, was acclaimed as a brilliant move, as well it should have been. It was clearly the brainstorm of Naomi Wolf, the self-proclaimed "slut" who collected a Republican-sized retainer for her part in the people's crusade. One can imagine Naomi coaching her client: "Open wide -- wider! -- no talking!" Gore added to the mirth by pointing out that he was once a bad boy, roaring down alleyways on a motorcycle, sometimes with three or four people on board. This led many of us to wonder if Gore carried on this way while sober. One certainly hopes not. To give him his due, Gore did remain mum after his campaign reported (through a Fox television affiliate) that George W. Bush had blown a .10 on his Breathalizer Exam, a score which in real drinking circles is known as a Gentleman's C.

Which brings us to Dubya. There is no getting around the fact that Dubya left many of us cold at the beginning - a rich kid with an heir's presumptions and a frat-house smirk. He also is in the grips of a strange governing philosophy, believing that the federal government should educate our children and medicate older citizens, when, if anything, it should instead medicate the little buggers and teach the older ones to fend for themselves. But he became more palatable as time when on, especially after being chewed up by the Clinton/Gore attack machine --- with Joe Lieberman stepping into the role of chief schnauzer.

There is no question that the most tragic figure in this cycle is Lieberman, who once went to Hollywood to blacken eyes, but in this race when to Hollywood to blacken his tongue --- with boot polish. His lust for power undid what was best about him. And say what you want about Hollywood's dreck merchants - they defend their turf by, quite admirably, telling the pols to stick it. In this sense they have proved themselves every bit the equals of the National Rifle Association.

Yet Hollywood failed its ticket by not pointing out a startling truth: Put Dubya in a cap and let his whiskers grow a few days and he would look a lot like Ernest T. Bass, the rock-throwing moron from The Andy Griffith Show. For those famed undecided voters, that information might have proved decisive. Pols do not provide all the entertainment in these races. As always, a long parade of throne-sniffers, political obsessives, party hacks, and toads kept us chuckling and sometimes cringing. From time to time we were able to employ a particularly egregious member of the cast as a learning tool: "You keep huffing that glue, son, and you're going to end up like Bob Shrum." Many of these hacks posed as journalists and historians, giving themselves away by complaining about "negative attacks," when in fact true journalists love nothing more than watching politicians tear each other apart.

Now, it's almost over. There will be a winner, a loser, an inauguration, and a honeymoon --- and then, if our luck holds, a blossoming gridlock. Bill Clinton will fade into the mists, and if our luck holds will eventually reappear, perhaps after some sexual altercation, preferably in a cathouse, somehow involving a hermaphrodite, on Easter Sunday. But the Big Scrap is over. The dancing bears have gone away, and we are confronted by a terrible and vast silence.

We may have to resume the piano lessons.

JWR contributor Dave Shiflett is a sometime voter from Midlothian, Va. Comment by clicking here.


© 2000, Dave Shiflett