Flinching Toward Babylon

In which our man Durst lays out his predictions for the 10 months of predictable and humiliating presidential campaigning ahead.

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Well, here we are at the beginning of another election year. Let us pray. The American political process has been called a circus wrapped inside a game show covered in poisonous weasel glitter. Admittedly, I was the one who called it that. Just now. But still.

It starts with the arcane Iowa caucuses on Jan. 24, which have as much to do with political reality as cast-iron football cleats have to do with control-top pantyhose. The only people who know exactly what is going on in this bizarre Hawkeye State ritual have been deceased since the Taft administration.

Then the focus moves to New Hampshire, on to South Carolina, and finally culminates in a string of Super Tuesday primaries, unfortunately not named for the quality of the participants. Those surviving the vortex of spin will spend the rest of they year telling us what their polls tell them we want to hear.

Comfortingly, there are some things we can count on in the next 10 months. Every candidate will climb out on that fragile political limb and declare his unequivocal opposition to waste. Each will also claim to have a similar aversion to crime, ignoring their own long records of heavy involvement in organized politics. The concept of families will be debated and emerge triumphant. The middle class will be told it is on the verge of being filthy rich.

We’re as resistant to this formula as fourth-generation cockroaches are to watered-down Raid. I have compiled a political forecast of what we habitual taxpayers can expect in the coming year. Clip and save. All dates are approximate. Your mileage may vary.

  • Jan. 21, 2000: On a “Larry King Live” candidate forum in Cedar Rapids, one of the candidates states it’s time to treat the American public as responsible adults and offers a comprehensive outline to save Social Security through a national program of shared sacrifice. He is never heard from again.

  • Jan. 22, 2000: During a freak winter thaw, millionaire career politicians emerge from limos to wade through muddy Iowa fields in tasseled loafers and $3,000 suits, expressing their solidarity and innate understanding of the farmers’ needs. Later, many shoes are donated to the Salvation Army.

  • Jan. 23, 2000: Pat Buchanan personally chases an illegal alien back across the border.

  • Jan. 25, 2000: The day after the Iowa caucuses, the last-place finisher holds a press conference to announce he did better than he expected.

  • Jan. 28, 2000: In a last-ditch effort to post good numbers in New Hampshire, one poor doomed soul cracks, kisses a snowball and throws a baby. He is never heard from again.

  • Feb. 21, 2000: The day after the New Hampshire primary, the third runner up holds a press conference claiming a moral victory, while behind him his staff weeps openly.

  • March 12, 2000: In the midst of a brutal Super Tuesday road swing, one blow-dried contender addresses a group of supporters in Tampa, Fla. with a rousing, “Boy, its always great to come back to San Antonio.” All three network newscasters smirkingly close with the clip. He is never heard from again.

  • March 16, 2000: The rumor circulating about a stuffy right-wing politico having had an affair with an aide is dismissed as a last-ditch cynical attempt by his staff to humanize him. Robert Novak snatches a fly out of midair with his tongue.

  • April 16, 2000: Nixon is reported to be in a Swiss spa getting a transfusion of Keith Richards’ blood. “Draft Nixon” groups spring up in 37 states.

  • April 29, 2000: A New York Times poll says 40 percent of the American public sees a need for a third party.

  • April 30, 2000: Donald Trump officially enters the race.

  • May 1, 2000: A New York Times poll says 43 percent of the American public sees a need for a fourth party.

  • July 21, 2000: The Democrats float a platform outline that endorses good and condemns bad.

  • July 22, 2000: Due to pressure from special interests, the platform is watered down.

  • July 24, 2000: The Republican platform committee outline proposes hunting the homeless as food.

  • July 24, 2000: Proposal is unanimously approved.

  • July 29, 2000: At the Democratic National Convention, the liberal wing accuses the nominee of selling out the party.

  • Aug. 13, 2000: At the Republican National Convention, the conservative wing accuses the nominee of selling out the party.

  • September 2000: Absolutely nothing happens in September and it is reported upon at great length.

  • Oct. 12, 2000: The vice presidential debate is beaten in the ratings by a UPN rerun of “Dilbert.” Later, sleep clinics use tapes of the debate as a last-resort cure for insomnia. Later still, the DEA rules it illegal to play a recording of it in your car.

  • Oct. 20, 2000: In an unusual move, none of the presidential candidates personally appears at the debates. Instead, staffers give detailed answers as to how the candidate might have responded if asked a particular question in a certain way.

  • Nov. 7, 2000: The public stays away from the election in droves, rationalizing that if voting were actually effective, it would have been made illegal by now.

  • Nov. 8, 2000: The losing party’s vice presidential nominee calls the election a statistical aberration and fires the opening shot to kick off the 2004 campaign. The loud national groan is registered by The US Geological Survey as an 8.2 on the Richter scale.

Will Durst is on the road covering the 2000 election for the MoJo Wire. His column appears each week.


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