Straddle This

As George W. moves ever closer to the middle, Durst wonders what campaign issues might possibly be left for the candidates to disagree on.

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


Well, looky here. It turns out George W. Bush may actually be smarter than a bucket of moss-covered rocks. Well, brighter than your average shrub, or at least clever enough to figure out compassionate conservatives don’t pay for rich people’s pork by skipping across the scalps of the poor with mountain-climbing cleats. When the Republican Congress first floated the idea of stalling earned income tax credits, the idea was every right-thinking GOPer would fall in line with the same practiced goose step they’ve perfected since Newt Gingrich first trained his revolutionary army in the black surgical budget arts. Of course every GOPer since then has lost the presidency.

Sending the party leaders a wake up call loud enough to annoy Pete Townsend, Georgie must have decided the nomination was already sewn up, so it was time to position himself for the general election, which definitely means butt splinters o’ plenty from fence straddling. And definitely not treating the middle class like stepping stones on the way to Capital Gains Reduction Valhalla.

A far-thinking Republican. Who’da thunk? Maybe the guy really is Reagan redux. Maybe he will reshape the Republican Party into the party of the little guy. A party with its focus on the future rather than the next quarterly dividend. A party that cares about carbon units instead of corporate interests. Of working families instead of special interests.

Yeah, right. You got a better chance of Pat Robertson sponsoring a needle exchange program in Havana. Or Don Knotts playing Rhett Butler in the next Gone With The Wind sequel. Or finding a factory-installed CD player in a ’54 Studebaker Commander. You get the picture.

Every political consultant worth his tasseled loafers these days has learned the secret of positioning the candidate so close to the middle, I’m constantly surprised their ads don’t feature double yellow lines down the center of their foreheads. Clinton was the first Democrat to learn it. The Republicans had “Family Values,” Bill came up with “Families First.” Gore learned his tricks from the same trough, you watch. It’ll turn out he too is pro-good/anti-bad. Who knew?

Bush’s battlefield conversion is but the beginning. In the next 13 months we’re guaranteed to see more cloaking devices than a Romulan fleet. Smokescreens designed to make David Copperfield more envious than photos of Claudia Schiffer lapdancing with Cindy Crawford.

Projected onto the candidates malleable features will be holographic recreations of all the great American heroes; Teddy Roosevelt, Harry S Truman, Harriet Tubman … all right, admittedly, a line will be drawn. And the speeches. Oh, the speeches. The ones that will pinpoint them within a hint of a whisper of a shadow of hazy. Here’s a few of the crucial convictions we can expect to become privy to:

  • Crime is bad and there’s too much of it. What we need is less crime.

  • My opponent would rather raise taxes than pet his dog. As a matter of fact he doesn’t even own a dog.

  • I come from a family, I have a family, I think families are grand.

  • Campaign finance reform is crucial, but not as crucial as jobs.

  • We are more like we are now than we have ever been before and it is because of us.

  • We are more like we are now than we have ever been before but it is not our fault.

  • Schools are very important but prisons are more very important.

  • Public transportation is a wonderful thing and other people should be encouraged to use it.

  • What government needs today is more people like you, and I am one of you.

  • We must sweep away the debris of yesterday and build on the solid foundation of tomorrow.

    Will Durst believes the future is yet to come. Durst Case Scenario appears weekly on the MoJo Wire.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate