Columns » Bob Lancaster

Campaign motifs



I don't know how to keep from personalizing some of the themes and motifs of the presidential campaign.

For instance, I've never palled around with any terrorists as far as I know. I don't know any William Ayres, unless he was the mysterious guy who wallpapered my upstairs a year or two ago and did such a crummy job, or any William Ayres types. The only one of the Weathermen I ever knew was Tom Bonner of Channel 4, and I'd be real surprised if it turned out that he was ever a terrorist, or even a sympathizer.

Among Weathermen, I liked Vic Schedler of Channel 7, but never knew him personally, never got his autograph or a signed copy of one of his “Gusty” drawings, or anything like that. Vic one night used the foreign expression “Voila!” in describing some meteorological turn of events, but instead of saying “Wah-lah” as most Americans do, he pronounced it like the oversized fiddle  — “Viola!” —  perhaps not having had a chance to read his cue cards beforehand. He made it an exclamation, though, as if in appraisal of a very special, very expensive fiddle, perhaps one of those Strata Various models. I don't think he had much on-air truck with foreign words after that. Anyway, I'm pretty sure, even though I didn't know him, that Vic wasn't a terrorist, either.

I don't know if I'm a “real” American or one of those other kind in the McCain-Palin model or allusion. I like baseball, Mom, and apple pie. I like those loose, tight, and warm things that Earl Butz once paid tribute to. But I'm not crazy about old dogs, or children, or watermelon wine. Or NASCAR. I can take or leave the purple mountain's majesty above the fruited plain. Does that make me real as opposed to unreal or surreal or socialist? Or vicey versey, as Pap used to say. It's true I've never voted Republican, but they were my second choice several times. Does that make me any realer?

I don't know any plumbers named Joe but I know one named Keith and I suspect John would've got more mileage out of Keith than he did out of Joe. Keith at least would've kept the campaign's urinals working, and he wouldn't have charged anywhere near what Sarah's traveling makeup man charged. If they were bound and determined to make a plumber their campaign mascot, you'd think they would've gone ahead and made the plunger, or plumber's helper, their campaign icon. They probably could've got the icon on the ballot in place of the “R.” In 3D, with the little plunger moving up and down when you voted, as if unstopping a commode.

In this gimmicky day and time, that might very well have been enough to swing the election.

And what happened to Joe Six-Pack, by the way? When Joe the Plumber came along, they just dumped Joe Six-Pack. Drove off and left him beside the road the way Ross Perot did Admiral Stockdale. Probably a concession to the base, which still regards beer-drinking as a sin, although a lesser one than homoing or doubt coveting something your neighbor has.

I like this idea of the party providing its candidates with a generous clothing allowance, especially if your candidate is a rube from a hick state like Arkansas or Alaska who knows nothing about high fashion. You can't just let her wear clothes that look like something she might've shot that ought to be made into a rug.

In the home where I grew up, our clothing allowance was $0.00 for each family member. The only clothes any of us had were a kind of shift or poncho, with armholes and a place to poke your head through, made from sewing some flour sacks together. I'm a suave and debonair dresser now, of course, but beneath my cool, confident stylishness, I still remember with consternation the attire I was obliged to wear on my first date. All Martha White hand-me-downs, except for the shoes, my father's Sunday-go-to-meeting shoes, about which I remember two things. (1) They were black. (2) If I'd made my own shoes by nailing some two-by-fours together, they couldn't have raised bigger blisters or left me more permanently deformed.

I think the Bradley Effect will be a factor in this election, all right. But I also think the Anti-Bradley Effect will play a role. Here's the story of the Anti-Bradley Effect. I know lots of rednecks who want God and everybody to know that they never ever would even think of voting for someone of the ebony persuasion. They'd as soon die or eat a bug.

These people can be obnoxious but some of them aren't exactly stupid, and when they get into the voting booth, where there's no one to impress with their Negrophobic rants, they might very well give that ballot a once-over, sigh real big, and, after looking around to make sure nobody with a goiter and a shotgun is gandering over their shoulder, decide that the world might not come to an end if just this one time — never again, mind you — they went ahead and did the obviously right thing.

The Anti-Bradley Effect. We'll never know. But Jesus will.


Add a comment