Meet Me In St. Louis

Here in St. Louis, I was so busy with work I could hardly keep up with the see-saw swings of the political season. I was just about ready to breathe a sigh of relief and write George W. Bush out of

Here in St. Louis, I was so busy with work I could hardly keep up with the see-saw swings of the political season. I was just about ready to breathe a sigh of relief and write George W. Bush out of the presidential race, but look how things can change in a couple of weeks.

Talk about an "October Surprise"! A more disastrous combination of events could not have been scripted for the Democrats: first, Gore's fact-fumbling and lame apologies in the debates; second, Yassir Arafat's war in the Middle East, with both events playing to the benefit of the Bush camp.

Gore's studied steadiness might play well on the international stage, but it is killing him on the nation's TV sets. The supposed master debater, who scored major points through Bush's attempt to rig the debate setup, has Americans scratching their heads in wonder at his pathetic performance. The candidate who proclaimed himself his own man and who demonstrated such animation and articulation at his party's convention has obviously been listening too much to isolated strategists intent on keeping him presidential, so that repeated opportunities to land knock-out punches have been wasted. Gore's professionalism — read "dullness" — and his conversation seemed labored. The attempts of his advisors to keep him "above the fray" might well keep him out of the White House.

Bush has no business anywhere near the White House, but he knows how to play to the living-room audience.

It's a trait, not a skill, he inherited from his father. Like the senior Bush, Junior has a folksy charm that belies his privileged upbringing. His daddy was no Great Communicator, but came off as an amiable uncle or tackle-shop clerk. Young Bush has the vibrancy of his (relative) youth, coupled with a smug charisma, the by-product of his belief in his own destiny.

When you think you've been called by God to lead the world's most powerful nation, there are few things you're going to sweat over. Bush has been flying by the seat of his pants in a casual style that has resonated well with voters, to the point where they're willing to forgive his obvious shortcomings. And though he's hardly what one might call articulate, his father's famous nonsequiturs seem more coherent when delivered with Junior's Texas accent.

Let's not forget the elder Bush enjoyed sky-high approval ratings after the Gulf War, before the economy took a sour turn and before a reckless, rambunctious and strangely appealing southern governor, with his own belief in destiny, went on the attack with pleas for change.

Now after eight years of Bill Clinton, America might be waxing nostalgic for the Bush family again. When the specter of a Middle East war enters the scene, that nostalgia might be enhanced by dreamy notions that the son could somehow finish his father's business in Iraq. And of course, military spending and preparedness are bread and butter issues for Republicans, where they enjoy credibility with voters. Any Clinton weakness or waffling in the current crisis could drive the country away from Gore and deliver the vote to Bush.

One of the two men will be our next President. It won't be Nader or Buchanan or any other third-party candidate. While we are all free to vote our conscience, some small dose of reason is appropriate. The popular appeal of third parties, which had been building in fits and starts, was largely blown away when Buchanan commandeered the supposed Reformers. Now that trend might be reversing, with those observing the debate performances throwing up their hands and going back to Nader. As tight as the race has been, progressive minds seeking a meaningful alternative in a third party will simply end up putting Bush in office, defeating their own progressive ideals. And while such actions might be justified with the explanation of building a party for the future, by getting matching funds for next time around, consider that with a Bush presidency, there might not be a next time around.

Do you think any president who thinks he has been called by God to lead the world will shrink from his holy mission? There is no greater anger in the world than a Commander in Chief who thinks God is on his side. We already know Bush will reconstitute the Supreme Court to reverse Roe vs. Wade as part of the holy war he will wage at home, unleashing the worst civil strife since the '60s. We can reasonably assume he will be just as righteous, and reckless, in his use of military power abroad, particularly in the Middle East. And his eagerness to restore his father's good name will undoubtedly extend to the Persian Gulf, as well.

George W. Bush is an American Disaster waiting to happen. We should take out all the stops to make sure it doesn't. So I've come up with my own plot to deliver the election to Gore.

The final debate between Bush and Gore is set to be a knockdown, drag-out battle here in St. Louis, where it so happens I'm performing bit parts in Inherit the Wind at the Repertory Theatre. I need only secure an understudy for that performance, in order to get in on the real monkey business on the Washington University campus.

Perhaps I have a destiny as well. Maybe Dame Fortune placed me in this city, at this time to play a larger role than bit parts in regional theater. Sometimes individuals are called to make special sacrifices for their country's good, and this is certainly one of those times. And with presidential blowjobs becoming passe, it's time to up the ante on sexual politics. So I'm prepared to give Bush Jr. a whole new appreciation of "major league asshole" and allow him to fuck me before he fucks the whole country.

To hell with these scripted debates. Let's move this show to Springer.

contact Michael Blankenship: [email protected]

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