Sunday, October 3

The Killer Handshake and the GOP's Desperation - Another Long-Winded Essay

Hi. How've you kids been?

Lake Tahoe is GORGEOUS this time of year. It gets better as time goes on. Much unlike my maturity. We gathered up there to celebrate/observe/mourn a birthday milestone for me, and all I got was this lousy t-shirt. No, wait. We had a great time. And in what has to be an historic event, I actually made stupid money on the video poker machines at the airport. Airport machines are notorious money-takers, so for me this was a triumph won for all the losers. That's right. You know who you are.

Now the essay. Grab some coffee and a bagel. I'll wait. Got 'em? Good.

Over breakfast this morning, we watched the Wolf Blitzer Sunday Cartoon Cavalcade on CNN, and I noticed a huge (big goofy 1993 word here) paradigm shift in the national political discourse. The same old Wolf had a brand new Terry McAuliffe (DNC chairman) and a brand new Ed Gillespie (RNC).

Gillespie was rather, oh - testy? Petulant? I mean it's as if someone peed in his Cheerios every morning since Thursday night. He was just plain snippy, angry, interruptive and downright nasty. The Bush camp has got to be feeling as if their boy has REALLY let them down - I've never seen Gillespie this snotty.

McAuliffe, by contrast, had confidence exploding out of his pores.

Disclosure here: I've had my problems with McAuliffe in the past, calling him ineffective. Weak. A non-entity. That he should pack his things and leave the planet. Not fit to dine with pigs. You know - the high road of the aforementioned political discourse. But this morning, he was everything he should be. We didn't see the giggly Terry McAuliffe. We saw a guy who was taking everything Gillespie threw at him (and there was a lot), and throw it right back in his face at 94 MPH - high and inside. He had the newspapers on his side, and held them up for Gillespie to see.

Now we'll point out here that the GOP has one - and ONLY one - talking point they're running with from the debate: Kerry saying the words "passing a global test." If you recall, Bush's response was that he had no understanding what Kerry meant by a "global test." And America truly got the feeling that Bush didn't understand it the way a four-year-old doesn't understand quantum physics. But thanks to GOP spin, they're trying to re-interpret it as "someone as smart as the president thinks your 'global test' is a lot of hooey." They've even gone so far as to redefine it in their new TV ad by saying Kerry would ask Nazis, commies and surrender monkeys before launching a pre-emptive strike against an unarmed and totally contained country. And God knows that's the LAST thing America needs - bigger government from other governments.

McAuliffe almost took over the directing of the show by demanding the entire clip be played with proper context. Wolf came out of it telling McAuliffe that Kerry did in fact say "a global test." Way to go, Wolf. Nobody grasps the obvious better. We all know that in Thursday's debate, practically the last sentence before the "global test" line was that Kerry will not, no way, no how, under no circumstances, over his dead body, in fact he'll throw his family into a wood chipper before seeking the advice from anyone in the solar system before striking against a definite threat to America.

So there you are. It's easy to see how the RNC, Karl Rove and the Bush-F***Yourself campaign could define "global test" in their own special way from that.

And if I were John Kerry (every time I say that, I prove conclusively that I shouldn't be John Kerry), when Bush repeats this new meme of "I don't know what you mean by 'a global test,'" I'd lean forward, look the little crackhead in the eye and say, "Let me tell you what I mean - and I'll do it in a way that even YOU can understand it, Gomer." See what I mean? That's why I have a blog and zero political career.

(By the way, the fast definition of "global test" is: 9/12/01.)

In a nutshell, the Democrats are finally coming together, while the GOP's in disarray, despite Sean Hannity's assessment that Kerry didn't show up Thursday night, and that Bush is the Holy King and Omnipotent God of All He Surveys.

One more thing about the debate which I really need to report, since it's so brilliant. It's from my pal Jer, who theorizes that SOMETHING really pissed Bush off even before the debate officially began - and it may have been the handshake when Bush and Kerry came onstage. He's not really sure if Kerry leaned over to Bush and said, "I faced Viet Cong and I'm NOT afraid of YOU," or if Kerry broke a few bones in Bush's girlie hand when he grabbed it. ("Feel that, little man? That's from windsurfing.") But it sure explains Bush's behavior.

Make no mistake. Camp Kerry won't be taking these next two debates lightly. We all remember Reagan's second debate in 1980. But you gotta admit - this next one's about domestic issues, and America's still trying to find the one thing THERE that he hasn't mucked up beyond recognition. I offer this guarantee: he'll twist the domestic discussion into a homeland security rant sometime within the first two questions. Because fighting terra is a domestic issue, right?

So maybe this next time, Bush won't be so snotty, surly and overly-sedated. Although I'd love to see a stagehand score the wood in the podium to give out after 45 minutes of Bush propping himself up on it with his elbows. If they're looking for Bush to dominate the news for the next 48 hours, that's a dandy way to do it.

See? I'm back. Didn't miss me as much as you thought you did, didn't ya?