Before some of my quirky friends on the left get their boxers up in a bunch, let's be clear that it's not salt we're trying to rub into any wounds that might linger after the 2000 elections. That there are others besides Michael Moore and Al Franken that absolutely detest this president is well known and well documented. But looking at national polls, especially in key battleground states like Iowa, Wisconsin, Ohio and even Pennsylvania, a second “W. Bush” administration is quickly becoming a metaphysical certitude.
Of course, the prognostications of “Payne's World” have been wrong before. My political oddsmakers were caught utterly flat-footed at the eye-scratching slugfest the Heather Wilson/Richard Romero race turned into. Who knew Gentlemen Richard was capable of waging the kind of fight you'd normally expect from the crowd at an English soccer match?
But Romero has made the race a close one. For those nostalgic freaks looking for a little taste of the Florida recount debacle, keep your eyes on the First Congressional District's version of “Survivor.” Something tells me County Clerk Mary Herrera is poised to become a localized version of Katherine Harris before the dust settles in this brawl.
Where our beloved Land of Enchantment fits into the overall national picture is a tough call. The polls have been back and forth and it's anyone's guess the impact of ACORN's aggressive outreach and registration efforts of middle school students. Our political innards whisper that New Mexico will move from a blue state and into the red column for Bush—although “pastel pink” would be a more accurate description. Should Bush take the state's whopping five electoral votes, it will be by less than 5,000 ballots.
The bottom line? We're going to be dining very well at the expense of a few brave souls daring enough to wager their coin against our read of the political tea leaves and chicken bones. Or we'll be picking up a few tabs ourselves and the Thanksgiving turkey will be coming out of the tin foil of a Swanson's TV dinner, if …
In the meantime, following are some other thoughts and observations on the 2004 elections as we stagger into the final lap.
There's just something about Mary. It struck me as a little odd, if not outright creepy, when John Edwards congratulated Dick Cheney for loving his gay daughter Mary at the vice presidential debate. But when John Kerry offered essentially the same queer line for the straight guys at the last presidential debate we knew the two Johns were clearly attempting to get some sort of message across.
After all, Kerry didn't mention New Jersey Gov. James McGreevey when he talked about the difficulty gays had in coming out of the closet at national press conferences with their heterosexual spouses at their side. Nor did either of the Johns congratulate former House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt on loving his gay daughter. [Editor's Note: As far as we're aware, Mr. Gephardt isn't on the Bush-Cheney ticket.]
So why the focus on Mary Cheney? Who could the target audience be?
At an all-night séance, Lee Atwater, George Wallace, Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond offered the following possibility: Kerry and Edwards deliberately focused on Mary Cheney because they believe there are Bush and Cheney supporters who aren't aware Cheney's daughter is gay and might hold it against the Bush-Cheney ticket upon learning it. By mentioning it not once but twice during nationally televised debates, the Kerry campaign made it clear there weren't any gay relatives in the Kerry/Edwards family—at least none that they wanted to talk about loving.
In other words (according to our political observers from the Great Beyond) Kerry was 1) using Cheney’s daughter against Cheney (or at least hoping to), and 2) deliberately fishing for the votes of homophobes.
Of course, both Kerry and Edwards may honestly have just wanted to congratulate Cheney for loving his gay daughter.
Line most likely to be heard at a porn convention: Will we ever forget the leader of the free world uttering the phrase “Do you need some wood?” at the second presidential debate? Good thing he ran for the White House because the Supreme Court is probably out of the question now.
This is what happens when you let Benny Hinn help out with speechwriting. At a rally in Newton, Iowa, John Edwards claimed: “If we do the work that we can do in this country, the work that we will do when John Kerry is president, people like Christopher Reeve are going to walk, get up out of that wheelchair and walk again.” Can I have an amen?
The opinions expressed are solely those of the author. Payne, a former city councilor, can be reached at email@example.com.