Sunday, October 22, 2000

Don't count out Jerry when voting for president

        Voting for president should be an intellectual choice, but who has time for intellect? It's emotional. It comes down to a feeling. I like one guy more than the other. I'm more comfortable with him.

        Who would I rather drink a beer with? Who would make a better buddy on a cross-country trip?

        That's how I've done it in the past, and I don't think I'm alone. People don't vote reality. If they did, Vice President Al Gore would win in a landslide.

        Up: The budget surplus, home ownership, wages. Down: Unemployment, crime, welfare recipients. Those are facts.

        People don't vote facts, though. They vote perceptions, images and hunches. But picking a president the way you pick an exacta can't be good. So this time, I studied.

        I've read everything, watched everything. I've scanned George W. Bush and Mr. Gore for facial tics, dyspepsia and whether they put ketchup on their eggs. (I think Mr. Gore made a huge mistake wearing that blue tie in the second debate.)

        Sixty-three percent of Americans polled think Mr. Gore would do better if somebody watered him. But the man has a detailed answer for everything. You don't have to be a genius to be a great president. Look at Ronald Rea gan. But if I'm ever on Millionaire, I want Al Gore on speed-dial.

        I was amazed at the candidates' foot speed in the debates. Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore don't just think on their feet. They dance the merengue. Mr. Bush, who loses the intelligence game to Mr. Gore, said Tuesday he was for “value-added processing” as it applied to family farmers.


        Still, I don't know. I think it could come down to me inviting both for a Bud Light at the Sleepy Hollow Inn. The Hollow is where I go when I can't stand the B.S. anymore, which is why I was there Tuesday night, when Mr. Gore and Mr. Bush were slinging it from St. Louis. The TV at the Hollow was turned to the new Fox series Dark Angel.

        “I think I may write myself in,” said my new friend Jerry. Jerry's on the next stool. He's 61 and hasn't voted for a Democrat for president since JFK. He says he'll probably vote for Mr. Bush, but he'll do it holding his nose.

        “I got no confidence in the other (Democratic) party,” said Jerry. “Al Gore means well, but his idea is to spend, spend, spend. I don't think that's the kind of government this country needs right now.”

        Never mind that a Democratic administration has produced the best economy in our history. Jerry thinks Mr. Bush would do better. It's a feeling; he's going with it.

        I think politics is more of a shell game than a shell game. I think Mr. Bush and Mr. Gore are so tethered to special interests, flash polls, focus groups and handlers , they take polls on when they should floss.

        Mr. Bush is a lightweight, a failed oilman, the governor in a state where the governor doesn't do much governing. I think we've heard every thought in his head.

        Mr. Gore wants to be president so badly, he's painful to watch. He's the chameleon candidate. Who should I be tonight? It's hard to trust someone like that.

        Plus, neither addressed the key issues, such as what he'd do about the Mike Brown Problem, and if he had a plan to get me from Fields-Ertel to Elm Street in less than six weeks.

        Three weeks to go, and I still don't know. I've got all the information. I can tell you Mr. Gore's plan for Social Security. I'm a whiz on Mr. Bush's tax cut. And it will still come down to my gut.

        Right now, I'm leaning toward Jerry.

        Contact Paul Dxaugherty at 768-8454; fax: 768-8330.


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