Durst: Campaign Year Starts

Hard to believe, but here we are back 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. All right, maybe it hasn't, but it should be. It is a wild free for all three ring big top featuring ethical geeks, moral contortionists and fat sweaty white guys on slack media wires. And clown cars full of Gucci clad consultants throwing bright shiny confounding pies in the face of the opposition, the voters, and anybody flashing his minicam in the general vicinity. It all starts with the arcane Iowa caucuses on February 12, which have as much to do with reality as uranium tailings have to do with banana milk shakes. The only people with any idea of what really happens in these things are dead. Something to do with the throwing of smooth runish stones and candlelit seances in hollowed-out stumps to interpret the results is the experts' best guess. The next week the action switches to the grandaddy of them all in the "Live Free or Die Like The Commie Pinko Yellow Rat Bastard That You Are" state. The New Hampshire primary spotlights a state less populated than many California 12 step meetings and whiter than the Osmond Family Christmas in Norway Special. If this place were any more Caucasian, it would be translucent. But the winner immediately assumes front running position for his/her party's selection for the Presidency of the United States. Lucrative Nike endorsements are also available. A string of Super Tuesday primaries, not named for the quality of the participants, ensues, and all interested parties overdose on undercooked chicken and luke warm stump speeches culminating on March 26 with the California primary. If the winners aren't known by then, the Conventions promise to be scarier than the Janet Reno Swimsuit Calendar. The Rush Limbaugh Aerobic Workout Video. Newt Gingrich's 24 Part Compassion Seminar. Scary is what I'm saying. Comfortingly, there are some things we can count on in the next 9 months. It is automatic that every candidate will climb out on that fragile political limb and declare his unequivocal opposition toxic waste. Each will also claim to have a similar aversion to crime, ignoring their own long records of being heavily involved in organized politics. The concept of families will be debated and emerge triumphant. All will sagely come to the controversial conclusion that cancer is bad, and since the old are going to die and the poor can't afford lobbyists, the rich will be courted with code words like welfare reform, capital gains cuts, and Rogaine rebates. The middle class will be told they are rich. We're as resilient to this format as fourth generation cockroaches are to watered down Raid. To show how familiar, I 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 differ.JANUARY 28, 1996: In an attempt to promote their common man themes, candidates beat each other up to gather contributors to their grass roots $10,000.00 a plate fund raising dinners. FEBRUARY 1, 1996: H. Ross Perot says "It's time to take out the trash, clean out the barn, and hose down the pigs". Ted Koppel sadly shakes his head, but his hair refuses to move. FEBRUARY 4, 1996: 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 reduce the deficit through a national program of shared sacrifice. He is never heard from again. FEBRUARY 9, 1996: During a freak winter thaw, millionaire career politicians emerge from limos to wade through muddy Iowa fields in tasseled loafers and three thousand dollar suits, expressing their solidarity and innate understanding of the farmers needs. Later, many shoes are donated to the Salvation Army. FEBRUARY 13, 1996: Pat Buchanan personally chases an illegal alien back across the border. FEBRUARY 18, 1996: In a last ditch effort to post good numbers in New Hampshire, one poor doomed soul cracks, kisses a snowball and throws a "Boys Town" video at a baby. He is never heard from again. FEBRUARY 21, 1996: 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 4, 1996: In the midst of a brutal Super Tuesday road swing, one blow dried contender addresses a group of supporters in Tampa, Florida with a rousing, "Boy, its great to be here in San Antonio." All three network newscasters smirkingly close with the clip. He is never heard from again. MARCH 11, 1996: 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. MARCH 25, 1996: H. Ross Perot says "Its time to get under the hood, check the belts, and prime the fuel pump with elbow grease." Reporters stare at him like a dog being taught chess. APRIL 16, 1996: Nixon is reported to be in a Swiss spa getting Keith Richards blood. "Draft Nixon" groups spring up in thirty seven states. APRIL 29, 1996: A New York Times poll says 40% of the American public sees a need for a third party. APRIL 30, 1996: H. Ross Perot announces he is entering the race. MAY 1, 1996: A New York Times poll says 43% of the American public sees a need for a fourth party. MAY 15, 1996: Lewd pictures are posted on the website of the Christian Coalition mouthpiece. His poll figures rise appreciably MAY 27, 1996: H. Ross Perot says he has videotapes of the CIA replacing his morning coffee with freeze dried Folgers Crystals, and drops out. JUNE 3, 1996: On a Sunday morning news show, the Vice Presidential nominee front runner defends his foreign policy by intimating that the richest country in the world determines the global agenda. A challenger smirks, "Let's keep Japan out of this." He is never heard from again. JUNE 20, 1996: A flag factory in New Jersey bans all photo-ops by Presidential aspirants in a desperate attempt to get some work done. A Republican aide is admitted to intensive care with a severe case of red white and blue poisoning. JUNE 27, 1996: H. Ross Perot says "The deficit is like a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs", and is officially back in. JULY 4, 1996: At a Barbecue in a Southern swing state, a candidate's wife gets noticeably queasy after standing too close to the goat spit. JULY 21, 1996: The Democrats float a platform outline that endorses good and condemns bad. JULY 22, 1996: Because of pressure from special interests, the platform is watered down. AUGUST 9, 1996: The Republican platform outline proposes hunting the homeless as food. AUGUST 9, 1996: It is unanimously approved. AUGUST 12, 1996: H. Ross Perot buys Wyoming and secedes. AUGUST 14, 1996: At the Republican National Convention, the conservative wing accuses the nominee of selling out the party. San Diego cab drivers express disgust. AUGUST 26, 1996: At the Democratic National Convention, the liberal wing accuses the nominee of selling out the party. Chicago police van drivers express disgust. SEPTEMBER 1996: Absolutely nothing happens in September and it is reported upon at great length. OCTOBER 12, 1996: The Vice Presidential debate is beaten in the ratings by a UPN rerun of Cleghorne! Later, sleep deprivation clinics utilize tapes of the debate as a last resort cure. Later still, the DEA rules it illegal to own an audio cassette recording of it in your car. OCTOBER 20 & 26, 1996: In an unusual move, no Presidential candidate personally appears at the debates. However, their spin doctors give detailed answers as to how the candidate might have responded if asked a particular question in a certain way. The spin doctors conveniently provide said questions in order to facilitate the process. NOVEMBER 5, 1996: The public stays away from the election in droves rationalizing that if voting were actually effective, it would have been made illegal by now, anyway. NOVEMBER 6, 1996: The losing party's Vice Presidential nominee calls the election a statistical aberration and fires the opening shot kicking off the 2000 campaign. The synchronized national groan is detected by Livermore Labs as an 8.2 on the Richter scale.

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