Will you respect me in the morning?

By David Trumbull

Editorial Humor, February 2000

A political campaign--as one of our local political party officials is fond of reminding me--is a seduction. So I ask, in this month when romance is in the air, "how do the presidential candidates in their quest to woo the voters?" Our first answers came earlier this month in New Hampshire.

I guess a man in a uniform still has an edge over the civilian, at least that is one lesson people are drawing from navy veteran John McCain's impressive 18 point victory over George W. Bush in the Granite State. Others place the blame on Governor Bush and his handlers for pursuing an "I never saw an issue I couldn't duck" strategy. Maybe the loss to the more outspoken Senator McCain will teach Bush that faint heart ne'er fair lady did win.

Across party lines, voters went for the straight-talking candidate, or at least the candidate who had more successfully packaged himself as the bold truth teller. On the Democrat side we had Al "my father lost his Senate seat because of his support for civil rights for Blacks (and only a racist would dare to remind people that Al Gore, Senior, voted against the civil rights act)." Vice Prevaricator Gore did win, but only by the slimmest of margins. Hardly a victory at all for a Vice President seeking his own party's nomination in a time of peace and prosperity. Gore had hoped to benefit from association with President Clinton. Instead he finds that voters who got in bed with Clinton are now ready to take religious vows of chastity. And unlike certain saffron-robed monks, their only offering on behalf of Gore is a prayer that he go just away.

"Speak for yourself, John" --Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Of course, it's easy to sit here and take potshots at the candidates. (Actually it's not easy. That's why I'm writing and you're reading. And don't you forget it.) What do the candidates have to say for themselves? It's sure to be good for a laugh.

On his website Bill Bradley offers us a speech delivered to the Legal Community Against Violence Dinner. The title of this bold pronouncement: "Against Gun Violence." Imagine, a liberal Democrat who is against gun violence. No wonder Bradley has captured the fancy of liberal Democrats who want a risk-taking politician. Nothing like going out on a limb on a controversial issue.

Not content with having invented the internet and serving as the inspiration for the novel Love Story, one candidate has a website that boasts "The Gore Agenda: Fighting Cancer in the 21st Century." Now that is ambition! Son of poor Tennessee farmer grows up to be Vice President of the U.S. and break-through medical researcher too!

Using a feature more often seen on Democrat candidates' website, Governor Bush courts multicultural voters with a bilingual message. ¿Como se habla "frat boy" en Españo? "Straight talk" candidate John McCain may want to have a talk with his web designer. Whoever decided on the placement of content needs to be straightened out. The site may not be bilingual, but it certainly gives two messages. Visit the site of this crusader against the corrupting influence of money in politics and the first thing you see is an appeal for campaign contributions.

Soon, March 7 to be exact, Bay State voters will make their choices in a Presidential Primary Election. Four men, Bradley, Bush, Gore, McCain--and a few also-rans--will come courting you. Under banners of "compassionate conservatism" (Bush) or "Fighting for you" (Gore) each will say "I'm not like all the other politicians, I really care about you." Mark this! Your mother was right, they do only want one thing. On March 8 they will be off to another state and another primary election.

David Trumbull is Chairman of the Cambridge Republican City Committee