Bush’s giant wedgie

By Doug Powers

Though the 2002 midterm elections are on the verge of becoming a distant memory, a few things will continue to amuse us for some time. The light chuckle of pity generated by observing a few more voters staring at the ballot instructions, their heads tipped to the side in perpetual confusion like Labrador retrievers listening to a Stephen Hawking lecture, continues to resonate.

Tom Daschle still helps us crack a smile, explaining that losing his short-lived, yet beloved, “Senate majority leader” title is secondary to what’s best for the country, all while exhibiting tremors and an upper lip sweat not seen since Nixon told the FBI, “Watergate Hotel? Never heard of it. Why?” By far, however, the funniest thing about this election that will crack us up for some time to come is watching the Democrats explain exactly how they got whipped by a “dumb” guy.

Bush was all over the country this campaign season. The president was as responsible as anybody for the success of the GOP in the midterms. He used his popularity to win support for candidates in key races, and in doing so, more support for his presidency. In the days before the election, the president visited 15 states, which culminated in the Democrats collectively visiting just one state – shock. How did this happen to them? Bush is dumb, right? If that’s indeed the case, how could they have lost so soundly? As Dan Rather might put it, how did they get a butt-kicking not seen since Mama Cass led The Rockettes in a Conga line?

The initial strategy for the Democrats, from before the 2000 presidential election and on through this midterm election, was to portray Bush as a dunderheaded lightweight. A political buffoon whose daddy and Cheney did all the thinking, and a man who mangles words as if his brain takes the dictionary and tosses it into a woodchipper every time he opens his mouth.

The main problem for the Democrats is that their sales pitch is getting old. Willy Loman would shake his head in empathetic pity at the likes of Terry McAuliffe, who for some reason continues to use the increasingly discredited approach of insulting the intelligence of the target Democrat voter to win their support. The tactic is employed constantly, often failing embarrassingly for the Democrats. This explains why Paul Wellstone, whose casket must now suffer the eternal indignity of being plastered in “Mondale 2002” stickers, had a memorial service that made the Ayatollah Khomeini’s funeral seem as tame as nap time at a monastery.

Election season is fantastic entertainment. Every two years, we’re witness to the biggest parade of boobs that – unless you’re attending biannual parties at Hef’s mansion – is unique to the election process in this country. Many elections are exquisite in their predictability, but this one has thrown the Democrats for a loop.

Here’s George W. Bush, whose intelligence is, with the exception of a brief respite at the end of last year, the continuous punch line in the jokes of late-night comedians. To the left, Bush is an illegitimate, dumb president who probably bought his way through Yale and wants to put Americans in harm’s way to enhance his oil-stock portfolio.

This is a man who is picked on persistently by the tragically misguided New York Times columnist, Maureen Dowd. Dowd, former companion to Michael Douglas until he realized she was over 30, quilled in yet another of her gastro-expulsions of wasted ink that Bush was a “Boy Emperor,” and now can’t go a full paragraph without lashing out at the president. It’s almost as if Dowd has some sort of political Tourette’s syndrome when it comes to Bush. If she’s that bitter, he’s got to be doing something right.

Then there’s Molly Ivins, who’s another notorious Bush basher, but at least says it all in a tubby Scarlett O’Hara-esque entertaining southern drawl. The cutesy accent helps disguise the stench of the words – like having a bout with dysentery, but in an aesthetically pleasing outhouse. The list of those others who must be suffering paroxysms of confusion abound: Carville, Begala, Clinton (both of them – making mutual confusion the first thing they’ve done together since loading the White House china and tea service onto a U-Haul two years ago), Streisand, Daschle, Gephardt, et al.

The big mistake of the Democrats was in thinking that Bush was behind them intellectually. Oh, he was behind them all right – but not for any intellectual reason. He was back there grabbing the waistband of their skivvies, preparing to give them the wedgie of a lifetime.