Joseph Lieberman & The Great Leap Of Faith – Political satriist, James Campion deconstructs a demogogue VP choice.

Aquarian Weekly 7/26/00 REALITY CHECK

JOSEPH LIEBERMAN & THE GREAT LEAP OF FAITH

The GOP Fan Fest was barely done sweeping up the graffiti tonnage when the phones started to jangle in Nashville. The Gore Camp was fluttering with reaction to the first Republican Convention ripe with minorities and touchy-feely types and an absence of NRA, religious right or impeach-crazed congressmen. An eight-point deficit sunk to a 17-point chasm and the comfort of the front runner and his snoozer running mate brought one answer: SPLASH.

And by firing back with vice presidential candidate, Connecticut Senator, Joseph Lieberman, the current VP has made a big one. The name immediately cut hard into the gaudy Bush numbers, yanking the stunned interns from their seats over at Gallup. By the first full week in August, Al Gore had pulled within 2 lousy points of Captain Shoe-in with a bombast convention of his own pending.

But why did Joseph Lieberman make sense to the panicking democratic minions?

When the day is done, Joseph Lieberman is no different than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the righteous, religious-judgment two-step and had William F. Buckley so juiced a few years back he endorsed him over a Republican candidate for senate.

Firstly, Lieberman is no Dick Cheney. He was the frontrunner’s opening gesture to the conservative wing of the party before the moderate convention, but a bland pick when considering the other, more courageous choices. Lieberman is truly the “wild card” name predicted by anyone willing to go on record after Bush named Cheney.

Gore needed a buzz and Lieberman resonates like an angry wasp’s nest.

Lieberman is a devout Orthodox Jew and a democratic legislator with an arms-length conservative, moralist voting record. And although no one in Washington will offer anything but “honorable” to describe the man, another word lingers inside the beltway, “enigma.” He is a purveyor of moral conduct and religious purity, yet he is a divorcee with an overwhelmingly “pro-choice” voting record.

Moreover, Lieberman secures many liberal circles while standing glaringly on the side of such conservative issues as school vouchers and Bill Bennett’s fascist Empower America crusade against pop culture. He supported George Bush’s Gulf War and was the first democrat to describe the Monica Lewinsky scandal as “immoral and harmful”, but on fiscal concerns he will back Gore’s fears of a GOP controlled congress buoyed by one of their own.

Then again, the Dems have had a history of “wild card” VP candidates from the mentally unstable Tom Eagleton and a woman, Geraldine Ferraro to presidential liabilities like the Catholic Jack Kennedy and the morally bankrupt William Jefferson Clinton. But as the VP’s had a way of killing a ticket, luck has followed the main draws.

If there was one salvo the GOP unloaded on the present administration during its televised centrist show, it was its lack of trustworthiness and moral structure. Lieberman answers that in spades. He is a morality nut and steps right in line with Gore’s corpulent shill of a wife and a PMRC past dripping with condescending “save the children” rhetoric.

But Gore’s attempt here is to seem more caring and less corruptible, and despite the predictable chicken littles moaning about mid-America’s disdain for East Coast Liberal Jews having little to no shot, it is hard to argue that Lieberman isn’t at least a news-making choice.

As discussed in this space for the last year, Al Gore has two main problems.

The first, and most damaging, is that people don’t like him. They don’t want to give him credit for the economy, blindly accept his alleged pristine record with ecology, embrace his repeated denials about campaign finance misappropriations or beam at whatever earth tones he happens to model while canoeing up a man-made creek. The majority of voting types see him as a Washington dupe and a disingenuous lout who would tell anyone anything they wanted to hear to be elected dogcatcher.

This brings us to problem number two: His opponent has brilliantly crafted an image of the one man Gore is trying to separate himself from: Bill Clinton.

Junior’s speech at the convention broke many seemingly unattainable Clinton records for moderate hyperbole. From saving Social Security and Medicare to even mentioning single mothers and inner city children, Bush laid out liberal agenda with a slice of “compassionate conservatism”, going as far as complimenting the president if not for his silly peccadilloes. Everything from his strained attempt at not smiling to avoid the “wise ass smirk” to the passionate call for change reeks of Big Bill at his most eerily phony moments.

Cut through all the polished speech-gunk and George Bush jr. told the nation that he knows what you liked about Bill Clinton and he can provide that and then some, without all the embarrassing perjury aftertaste. New and improved mouthwash in a handy mess-free bottle.

If Gore was the least bit likable, or faced with another stuffed-shirt conservative beast, then Joseph Lieberman is still serving the good people of Connecticut. He certainly isn’t balancing the ticket on battle lines drawn by the GOP convention.

Bush has set the tone thus far. That will change in a presidential campaign. Gore’s flow with the momentum is very reminiscent of Big Bill as well. But this worked with Clinton because he went in knowing he would get a pass by anyone he could entertain for four minutes. The Gore people know that if their man spends half that time with an independent voter he is likely to queer the deal.

When the day is done, Joseph Lieberman is no different than Pat Robertson or Jerry Falwell in the righteous, religious-judgment two-step and had William F. Buckley so juiced a few years back he endorsed him over a Republican candidate for senate. But he is Gore’s lightening-in-a-bottle to balance a ticket wherein the presidential candidate has a problem separating ethics with business as usual.

NEXT WEEK: DIBBS BACKSTAGE AT THE CONVENTION

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Let Ralph Nader and Pat Buchanan into Debates – Political satirist, James Campion probes the presidential fringe.

Aquarian Weekly 7/19/00 REALITY CHECK

THE GREAT DEBATE ON DEBATES

“My opponent totally misapprehended the great principles upon which our government rests.” – Stephen A. Douglas – 1858 Debates

“It is most extraordinary that Mr. Douglas would so far forget all the suggestions of justice to an adversary that the slightest investigation would have shown him to be false.” – Abraham Lincoln – Rebuttal

By any poll you’d like to subscribe, Ralph Nader (Green Party Candidate) and Pat Buchanan (Reform Party Rebel) have barely 10% of the national voting attention between them, which by normal democratic standards has reached all-time lows in the past decade. The two men who represent the power parties are, at best, boring puppets, at worst, dangerous dupes of special interests and corporations. Most Americans do not care for politicians and treat the privilege of voting like diseased meat.

To these harrowing facts we offer up our plea: Open the debates wide!

Run by the bag men for the Dems and GOP, the planned debates that will decide the outcome of this egregious abortion of a presidential campaign have put a 15% bottom line for independent party popularity. Nearly destitute in campaign-fund speak, the Green Party and the Reformists have no way to gain the proper motivation to get in the ring with G.W. Bush and Al Gore. These men have taken the riches of King Herod and pissed it away before the second leg of the primaries. And there is a boat load more that says that Nader and Buchanan have as much chance of manning a debate podium as Chuckles The Incontinent Clown.

Time to pull G.W. out of the rich-boy mothballs and kick that lying sack of horse manure, Gore off the Washington pedestal and get them at the corner of muck and mire with extremist crazies who will strip facades and make the bad boys bare their fangs.

But if this was truly a democracy, and anyone with a modicum of energy for this damaged political system gave half a shit, those two wacky love bugs would be chewing up television ratings and putting the whole charade into serious mind-numbing perspective.

And that’s what we need now, folks…perspective. Time to pull G.W. out of the rich-boy mothballs and kick that lying sack of horse manure, Gore off the Washington pedestal and get them at the corner of muck and mire with extremist crazies who will strip facades and make the bad boys bare their fangs.

Nader is already Gore’s worst nightmare. He knows all-too well the vice president’s vacillating two-step with the unions, WTO ass-smooching and the panic appointment of NAFTA poster child, Wiiliam Daly as campaign guru is another in a long line of smoke screens. And Nader is a wild man when it comes to hellfire in the face of phony fundraising scandals, to which Gore is sloughing off like a blushing debutante, while smelling like a rat in a garbage heap.

But that’s a handbag of trouble compared to what Patrick Buchanan would do to the insulated confidence that permeates the Bush camp these days. At least Gore moved to the obligatory middle to paint Bill Bradley as something akin to George McGovern meets Adlai Stevenson at a Commie rally. Junior ignored the middle while he leaned as far right as Barry Goldwater’s ghost would allow in his attempt to embarrass the remains of John McCain.

Bush went right, but now goes the way of “compassionate conservatism” while presiding over the 135th murder by the state of Texas under the always lovely guise of “capitol punishment.” But he gains in the polls because people see Al Gore and think of a jabbering political mannequin willing to sell his soul at a craps game for any vote anyone will give him at any time.

But if Uncle Pat gets across from G.W. it will force him to signify his cloudy thoughts on naughty things like abortion and taxes and gun-weilding, flag-waving Bible zombies wanting to know exactly what the hell he thinks of gay marriages and vigilante border patrols in his home state. Bush will have to fend off both the lefties and their youth-minority-women vote and the radical right who feed him hordes of obscene campaign money. Now we have an exciting battle.

Now we get the voter base. It’s Monday night wrestling and bimbos marrying rich dolts on FOX. We get Regis Philbin cranked on java holding wads of cash and put all four candidates in a cage with dead deer carcasses and photos of nude women. Kid Rock can sing the national anthem.

This is what we want; the real deal. Bush and Gore debating would be like watching some sissy slap-fight, highlighted by sad references to Junior’s loser dad and everything Bill Clinton has denied since he was four years-old. Bad television. Bad politics.

Gore claims to be a great debater. His victories include Dan Quayle (a moron), Jack Kemp (ambushed moderate), Ross Perot (half-mad troll with a bank account), and poor old Bill Bradley (who thought running for president meant having a conscience). All lay-ups. And Bush is a dunk waiting to happen.

Boring.

Bush has a lead now. By the time of this writing it isn’t even Independence Day. Other notable poll leaders in early July include Jimmy Carter in ‘80, Michael Dukakis in ’88 and Bush senior in ‘92. All losers. Very bad losers with one thing in common, a summer of confidence and good poll numbers that lied terribly when the real polls opened. Plenty of time for Bush to blow this. Plenty of time for Al Gore to re-re-invent.

But digression has become the better part of valor here, and although this is only the beginning of 2000 campaign coverage for this space, this reporter will be completely brain-dead by the conventions if some clairvoyant savant doesn’t rescue this abomination and allow maverick psychos like Nader and Buchanan into the arena for a world-class, singsong, salute-my-dog bloodletting.

Abraham Lincoln and Stephen Douglas are long dead. They were debating heavyweights with a grudge and a barb.

Bush and Gore? Not mistaken for quality with any measuring stick.

Wake the echoes.

Open the debates!

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

The Ballad Of Rick Lazio – Political satirist, James Campion welcomes New York’s GOP Senatorial candidate.

Aquarian Weekly

6/7/00 REALITY CHECK

THE BALLAD OF RICK LAZIO

Rudy Giuliani is out. Rick Lazio is in. Ms. Rodham’s media hounds are circling. The GOP is scrambling. Nearly 45% of New York State voters are still undecided which way they will go come November.

These are the facts we are dealing with now. Wet dreams of Uncle Rudy spinning medieval on the dragon lady from Arkansas and her torrid lobs of retribution have been reduced to bland cat naps. I already possess three contact names for the Lazio campaign and the poor bastard has been only running for Senate for 72 hours. He’s been on every news show that will have him for more than thirty seconds and no one outside Long Island, and the lovely Lazio family, has a fucking clue who this guy is.

As much as the odd regret filters into this space, it pales in comparison to reaching my prime Republican source, Georgetown when the heat inside the party rises. Now that my second book, Fear No Art, is out and his personal e-mails have been published in it, his savage rebuttals can only be something worth printing.

This includes every vitriolic utterance Georgetown can muster at dawn when my phone call catches him off guard with hopes of getting a line on whom Rick Lazio claims to be, what he aims to do about surging Clinton poll numbers, and why every Liberal from here to Albany views him as some writhing spawn of Newt Gingrich and Conservatives hail him as a better prepared soldier than the blubbering mush masquerading as Warrior Giuliani.

jc: Did you get a copy of my book?

Georgetown: I had someone fax me over the key pages.

jc: Thoughts?

GT: How in the name of all that is holy do you expect to get away with that shit? Two pages of a State Department stooge comparing the Clinton scandal with “Three’s Company” skits?

jc: What about your e-mails?

GT: I’ll fix your ass. You do know (David) Gergen has a contract out on your head.

jc: Gergen? Are you sure you read my book?

GT: Did you call me at 5:30 in the goddamn morning to talk about your continued abuse of the Ronald Reagan legacy?

We didn’t want to upset the ground swell after Christmas, but Rudy didn’t want to run. I can tell you one thing, more than half the guys that count wanted Lazio in the first place.

jc: How much can you tell me about what the party knew of Giuliani’s decision not to run and when they knew it.

GT: Fuck if I know. We gave up on him two months ago. That was a travesty from the get-go. We didn’t want to upset the ground swell after Christmas, but Rudy didn’t want to run. I can tell you one thing, more than half the guys that count wanted Lazio in the first place. I’ve got to give the guy credit, he was pissed when they asked him step down. But Rick walked the line and now if he plays this right he’s going to be Senator anyway. Money and all.

jc: How much of Rudy’s $12 million, or whatever their reporting, is he entitled to?

GT: It’s more than that now. C’mon. Think for a minute, what’s he going to do, give it back? The cash guys have already allocated a great deal of the legal money that way. Lazio will get what he needs to toast that bitch. I have to say, I was humored by it all at first, but those Democrat bastards with their scare tactics are starting to tick the main boys off. And if Lazio runs some weak shit up the flag pole there is going to be bloodcurdling screams up in Albany. The loudest will be coming from Pataki’s office.

jc: I know all about George’s love/hate affair with Rudy.

GT: Never mind that, Pataki loves Lazio. That bond goes back a few campaigns. And don’t be so sure Pataki wouldn’t have come all-out for Rudy. There is some real hatred all the way down the line over here for Hillary.

jc: What’s your best assessment of Lazio?

GT: A great idea man. Very sturdy on the floor. Debates his ass off for fiscal concerns. Has a hard-on for tax issues. He’ll go to the mat for votes. Can you believe he told (Tim) Russert that he would take all the fucking (Pat) Buchanan endorsements? The Clinton people already have propaganda out on that and the (Newt) Gingrich stuff.

jc: How much “Contract with America” stank does he have on him?

GT: Sure he voted down the line with those mavericks. We were all loons then. It was a fine time to be the white male with a chip on his shoulder and we rode that crest, bud. You can’t hold anyone responsible for their voting record in 1994 when they were elected in 1992 as a minority party in the 45-year Democratic reign. Lazio was rescued from the mouth of the whale. Those maniacs would’ve voted for full-scale prohibition then. And they were all drunks. We were all drunks then, drunk on power and the smell of Clinton blood.

jc: Peer pressure, Congress style?

GT: Nah, freedom. A whole lotta freedom,, but that was a looong time ago.

jc: Do you think Lazio has the time he needs to put him in the middle of this thing?

GT: He’s in it now, believe me. Giuliani hadn’t done anything but posture anyway. People knew him, sure, but more people were afraid of what he was going to do out of the city.

jc: Here’s my take. Lazio doesn’t need that much time. If anything, the notoriety of Clinton and the bad press Giuliani was heaping on himself in the last 10 months helps him.

GT: Suburban Congressman are good candidates because they don’t know anything about polls and demographics. These are guys with a simple agenda. Clinton has the weight of whatever crap Gore is dragging around. She’s the national candidate. Lazio is hot dogs and beer. He’s the underdog now. He’s from the fucking state and he’s a man, but he’s the friggin’ underdog. Write this down. Got a pen?

jc: Speak. My cat wants out.

GT: Eventually, Hillary is going to have to go on a goddamn television show. She’s going to have to talk to a reporter. She’s going to have to stand in a room with someone who’s not afraid of her. Then we’ll see what she’s made of. Not everyone has to gain her forgiveness for screwing around with the help. Ain’t no one on this side gives a rodent’s posterior if she’s the reincarnation of Eleanor Roosevelt meets Norma Rae. When she opens that trap for real, sludge will spring forth. And when it closes, the corpse of the Marques De Sade will beat her in an open election.

jc: Got the pen. Can you repeat that?

GT: Goodnight.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

The Giuliani Dilemma – Political satirist and author, James Campion puts the dirt on Uncle Rudy’s Senate campaign..

Aquarian Weekly 5/31/00 REALITY CHECK

THE GIULIANI DILEMMA

During the second weekend in May, buried deep in a story about the Napster law suits highlighted by juicy rumors about black-suited Metallica enforcers leaning on computer geeks, the bunker phone at the Reality Check News & Information Desk bellowed.

Ordinarily two or three well-formed paragraphs usually take precedence over last-minute news bulletins. The days of “stop-the-presses” died with cable news networks and Internet freakdom. But the voice on the other end, identifying himself as J.R. from the “Giuliani for Senate Committee of New York”, uttered two intriguing words: “He’s done.”

This is important for two reasons.

The first being that no one from City Hall has spoken to me in 13 months. My inquiries have been ignored from secretaries to security guards, and when things got hairy over the winter during the Amadou Diallo murder trial, my name was left completely off the credentials’ list. I had to watch from home as the steely-eyed hombre mayor of the largest city in the world calmly painted a brutally slain unarmed man as a borderline criminal.

Interestingly, the ice thawed a few months back when my column on the Hillary Clinton announcement for Senate ran, and the damn thing went on for nearly one thousand words of swill and muck ending with a depiction of Ms. Rodham as some kind of power-mad mutation of Ziggy Stardust meets Citizen Kane.

Uncle Rudy wanted to be governor, but someone bet him at Christmas that he could make the first lady look like a crack mother by Labor Day and he took it.

But that’s all ancient history around here now, because the second reason why I trashed a nearly completed story for a cryptic message about Rudolf Giuliani is it’s blatant finality. What should have been a plethora of ugly quotes and rabid campaign treachery between two lunatics grubbing for a Senate seat now becomes a pathetic public relations mop-up for a doomed candidate and a woman who doesn’t know how the hell to take advantage of it.

No journalist worth a hoot fails to cherish the miles of coverage that kind of insanity promised.

But alas, long before Uncle Rudy announced he had prostate cancer, and revealed the woman he’d been parading around with for over a year was his lover, he was finished. His heart had never been in the thing. J.R. intimated such before hanging up, prompting me to make a few well-placed calls of my own to the right Giuliani people who were suddenly more than accommodating.

A fellow by the name of Tad put me in touch with no less than six members of Giuliani’s fractured election committee, who more or less denied knowing anything about any J.R., and stated emphatically that I should bet all my money on Rudolf Giuliani running even if he had to do it from a hospital bed sporting two wives and a Mets hat.

It’s been the challenge of this space to dissect rumor from fact and somehow jam it all together to create the kind of chaos that runs circles around anything the boys up at the NY Times would print without legal conclaves. But things were happening rapidly with no sign of clarity until someone spoke on the record, which was fast becoming a fantasy.

By the time this goes to press, this much we have ascertained: Uncle Rudy wanted to be governor, but someone bet him at Christmas that he could make the first lady look like a crack mother by Labor Day and he took it. By the time his second wife, of 16 years, Donna Hanover, was informing a mob of television cameras that the whole idea of the mayor’s marriage was “sad,” Giuliani hadn’t officially announced he was running for anything.

This was a far cry from the man who looked like a sculpture of Peter the Great on the shores of the Baltic Sea the night he sent David Dinkins packing. I remember it well. I left that celebration in Brooklyn around 2:00 am and could see the lights of Manhattan in my review mirror when they replayed the victory speech. It sends chills up my spine even now. Rudy Giuliani was a bulldog in a poodle circus and we were all much happier then.

We were also more than ecstatic that Uncle Rudy would headline the Senate fight card this fall against a woman so morally bankrupt and emotionally stunted she might be found gnawing on his ankle by the third debate. The mayor had reduced mere charlatans to the throne to jabbering apes. This would be the real deal. A war of wills and posturing the likes of which the empire state has rarely seen outside of a Donald Trump wedding. But it’s all over now.

Giuliani’s tenuous hold over upstate voters due to his refusal to endorse fellow Republican, George Pataki the first time around is shakier with infidelity added to the agenda. And because my father went through the operation for prostate cancer just two years ago, I know for certain that the recovery will take a chunk out of the five months left for him to campaign.

The GOP marshals in Westchester are through fooling around. They need answers fast. The Clinton machine, in full throttle mode at the Cardinal O’Connor funeral earlier this month, has been cranking and the rumors of Pataki slipping in before summer seems premature. Everyone in the governor’s camp has refused to acknowledge that Giulani exists. They do not plan to bail him out now.

Only Rick Lazio, the man who probably should have taken this nomination from jump street, remains plausible. But even if he agrees to pick up the pieces, will it be enough time. Even the hard-liners at Republican headquarters have noticed that Hillary closed the numbers’ gap on the vacillating Giuliani already.

Then, of course, there is the final option. Uncle Rudy takes the challenge like a wounded gladiator, limping into the bloody ring to reap the sympathy/anti-Hillary vote, and stumble to victory.

By press time only he knows, and nobody having anything to do with him is making a lick of sense.

Should have finished the damn Napster piece.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Fidel Castro’s baseball career – Political satirist and author, James Campion puts Cuba into perspective.

Aquarian Weekly 4/26/00 REALITY CHECK

CASTRO, BASEBALL, AND THE GREAT DIVIDE

Opening day at Yankee Stadium and the press room is jammed with the ego elite and media geeks grubbing buttered rolls because they’re too cheap to afford George Steinbrenner’s seven-dollar buffet. The deadline monsters are breathing hard on the swinging doors and the smell of stale wool jackets is already prevalent.

Pushing my way into a table while smiling at my friend, Brain Cashman who happens to be the general manager of the team of the century and four years younger than me. I fail to call him “bastard” on this visit, which he agrees is my right since no one younger than me can be allowed to do anything considered important.

There’s an air of good feeling, for the ides of March has given way to breezy April afternoons in the shadow of this shrine. I promised a broadcasting friend earlier this year that since I sauntered out of the old girl last October, with the Yankees sipping nonalcoholic champagne and Roger Clemens high-fiving truck drivers and construction workers on the roof of the Yankee dugout, that since I saw the last game played in the 20th century here, why not hit the field for the first one of the 21st.

The Pirates never did have the patience to develop short Cuban kids with little pop on the cheese, so a dejected Fidel attended law school, went to prison, and disappeared into the Cuban socialist underground.

Something about new beginnings that bring the leeches from the dusty corners and send the rabid fungus of the sports world clamoring. The Yankees are a hot ticket. They win. Americans–New Yorkers first and foremost–love winners. Losers draw flies and boos and calls for painful death. One minute on the pro sport circuit and a concept like politics becomes child’s play.

Inevitably that kind of talk around those who moonlight at the Stadium want to know what the hell is going on with the Cuban kid. A few tables over Elian Gonzalez comes up in light conversation, along with how horrible it was that the world champs wasted their celebration with nonalcoholic champagne when AA veteran Darryl Strawberry was weeks away from getting back on the crank.

But it was the boxing curmudgeon known as Bert Sugar who started a near melee after a rant on his new magazine and the future of Cuban middleweights when things became heated. “I just wanted to double the average age of the press corps,” he laughed and exited stage left, leaving a hardy debate on all things Elian Gonzalez.

Right down the middle among the sporting press: Elian stays, or hops the first freight with his father back to the land of cigars and sugar cane. “What do you think would be the furor if the Gonzalez kid were a fat, greasy Cuban with a gruff beard and a stogie hanging from his face?” someone asked. “Probably would have pushed him back on that raft with his mother’s corpse,” I answered causing an aggravated woman to ask for another show of hands.

There is a well-known baseball trivia question that makes its way around most press boxes involving Fidel Castro as a 21 year-old pitching prospect for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Seems two corpulent scouts, hired by the parent club, went to Havana to watch the diminutive lefty break nasty curves and dip sinkers in and around the aggressive Latin competition, but were somewhat lukewarm about his speed. “The kid Castro has some command of breaking pitches (stop),” the report told the front office the next morning via Western Union. “Has nothing on the fast ball (stop) Double AA talent at best (stop).”

The Pirates never did have the patience to develop short Cuban kids with little pop on the cheese, so a dejected Fidel attended law school, went to prison, and disappeared into the Cuban socialist underground. Those were the days when his family and friends were subsisting on a steady diet of dung beetles and palm leaves chased by rotten disease-ridden water, while the mob ran numbers for a dictatorship backed by the muscle of Harry Truman’s United States.

It was a short walk from the entrance of Forbes Field to the den of hate. And hate turned into revolution on New Year’s Eve 1959, when the failed pitcher became champion of the weak and an American thorn; followed closely by the CIA’s spring invasion gone terribly wrong two years later. And when the Bay of Pigs sent the slugs from Florida’s underbelly to the right people, Jack Kennedy paid with his life in Dallas two years after that.

Books by James Campion are available on this web site or at Amazon & Barnes & Nobleclick to order

Thirty-three years later Elian Gonzalez was born to Cuban natives, Juan Miguel and his wife Elisabeth. The couple divorced and the mother fled the country with Elian in toe. When fishermen rescued the boy in an inner tube on Thanksgiving Day he could only mention his father’s name. His father wants to take him back to a country where Elian has less than eight months to drink milk without serious rations and is merely a public relations faux paus from prison. Floridian Cuban refugees from the gun runners and coke fiends to the hardworking parents and relatives of those suffering tyrannical madness mere miles of water south want the boy to stay. Sticking it to the failed pitcher has a purpose.

But the boy is a political football, and that is a sport rarely discussed in the cathedral of baseball. And politics takes a back seat to a child and his parent taking in the sunshine of spring. It is the third change of season that finds Elian Gonzalez without his father. Human chains keeping blood and communism away from the great bellow of freedom.

Governments raising children.

Courts playing mommy.

Play ball!

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Super Tuesday Mayhem – Political satirist, James Campion comes clean on a fixed political system.

Aquarian Weekly 3/22/00 REALITY CHECK

CHEAP GARMENTS AND LESSER WORDS ON SUPER TUESDAY

“Nobody really wants to vote for these guys.” – Chief Wonka

So said the Poobah of a revolutionary underground information network called BLAZO!!, after a long day of deliberating on whether the black hole that has become the American political landscape drew deeper parallels to the misty days of 1960. That was the year the Kennedy brothers handed the vice presidency over to a man they despised and who moments earlier painted a picture of Jack Kennedy that would’ve trounced him in a race against Caligula, much less Dick Nixon. Yet, Lyndon Johnson stood by the side of JFK as he ran the mother of all kick-ass campaigns against a political mutant that might not have survived for six minutes in Roman elections.

Chief Wonka knows a thing or two about the climate of big time politics, tapping his left leg like a fiend on crank while assaulting the Grand China Buffet with a passion rarely found in mortals. The Chief loves his politics, but his fried cream cheese even more; and when it came time to handicap the Super Tuesday ballots he leaned back in that funny way he does while peeling off a medieval grin that told me all I needed to know about the rising smog.

John McCain had a chance, I foolishly told myself. But by 10:24 PM the final curtain had come down on the Arizona Senator. “Effectively, he flat lined in New York,” they’ll write. “And California will put the dirt on him.”

Writing this gibberish is the easy part. I have spent the last four hours at a voting outlet in the sleepy nook of Putnam Valley, where less people know about me than those forced to edit this rant. Most of it with a bull horn gripped firmly in my right hand belting out the kind of propaganda needed for desperate March evenings when Fat Tuesday becomes a super bummer and the only men left with a puncher’s chance at finally putting Bill Clinton out of a job are pathetic facsimiles.

“HEAR YE, POOR MINIONS OF OUR DENTED SYSTEM,” I began. “THE LORD HAS ABANDONED US, AND ALL THAT IS LEFT IS OUR MEAGER WILL TO SURVIVE THE FINAL BLOW!”

“The final blow?” a hardy pedestrian asked. “What are you talking about?”

It was a fair question. How would Chief Wonka decipher the crux of such a cryptic statement born of frustration and defeat? He was so sure that things would right itself that afternoon at the Grand Buffet that I nearly ate the multicolored death mints on the way out. But something beyond the lobster roll gnawed at my stomach. Four men remained before Super Tuesday—when more than half the delegates it takes to become president would be up for grabs—but only two would stand.

“No one really wants to vote for these guys,” the mighty Chief said twice more before we departed. “We’re supposed to choose a royal meal from rotten dog meat?” It rang true, then hollow. Bill Bradley was a dead man hours after he left New Hampshire, but the the glassy-eyed zombies up at headquarters still kept e-mailing me his itinerary: Mr. Bradley goes here. Mr. Bradley goes there. Didn’t have much of a point after too long. So much so I turned down two personal invitations to his consession speech just to avoid gazing upon the carcass.

The Republicans would set things right, I thought. Every bubble-headed paranoid dipshit screaming about a phantom hijacking of the party and ignoring millions of independent votes would suddenly come to their senses and put the scare into the vice president. John McCain had a chance, I foolishly told myself. But by 10:24 PM the final curtain had come down on the Arizona Senator. “Effectively, he flat lined in New York,” they’ll write. “And California will put the dirt on him.” As my grandmother, Carmella Martignetti, once said so eloquently. “That man is dead, he just doesn’t know enough to lie down.”

So the hardy man at the poll asked, “What are you talking about?” And in the tradition of Chief Wonka, and all the proud warriors of dark battles, it is important to remember that in defeat can be another kind of victory. And back to the bull horn I went…“THE PHEONIX CAN RISE! THE CHRIST KNEW VICTORY AFTER DEATH! SHIRLY MCCLEAN FUCKED KUBLA KHAN! THERE IS A WAY TO BEAT SATAN AGAIN!”

“Satan?” the man asked, following along slowly.

“YOUR MAN BUSH IS A SCUMBAG, IT IS TRUE! HE PAINTED HIS OPPONENT AT A COMMIE, LAND-RAPING, WOMAN-HATING GREMLIN, BUT IT WOULD TAKE THE ARCH ANGEL OF THE LORD AND ALL HIS CHARGES TO BRING DOWN THE EVIL THAT RESTS IN THE HEART OF THE MAN WHO SLEEPS REGULARLY WITH TIPPER! KNOW NOT THE FIRES OF HELL UNTIL HATH LIE WITH THE SLITHERING SNAKE!”

Bull horns may be well and good at teamster rallies, but late at night in Putnam Valley, NY amidst the gentle voters, it is enough to bring the law. My stand was finished. Within two hours G.W. Bush would win the lion’s share of key delegates, edge New York, and by evening’s end wrap up Cali on a whim.

Al Gore swept the thing and stood at a podium in Tennessee begging the McCain independents to protect their women and children from the right-wing religious freak from the land of electric chair justice and world record pollution numbers.

At that moment, phones had to ring in the McCain hotel room somewhere in Los Angeles; and the men paid high figures for advising had to be all over them rebuilding the same bridges that had G.W. in bed with evil preachers and in the back pocket of an establishment which was one bad night in South Carolina away from funneling funds elsewhere. If McCain has a heart, and any compassion left for his party and the future of this nation, he will suck it up and join Junior on the ticket. It is the only avenue left to cease this presidency-by-default Gore has lined up.

It’s after midnight and G.W. is on CNN telling Larry King that he might not have invented the Internet, but he’s sure he could spell it. I still plan to keep writing. Most of it will not appear in this space, but there may be another book left in me. Chief Wonka may even know. I was told he knows all. I was also told crime doesn’t pay and you can’t argue with election results.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Pat Buchanan Rages Against The Machine – Political satirist, James Campion’s interview with Uncle Pat.

Aquarian Weekly 1/26/00

RAGING AGAINST THE MACHINE:Political Pit Bull, Pat Buchanan Takes Off The Kid Gloves in His Grass Roots Run for President

Less than 24 hours after The Commission on Presidential Debate put a hard limit of at least 15% of the popular vote for a candidate harboring any chance of participating in the general election debates this fall, Patrick J. Buchanan—armed with less than 10% in the polls—tooled into New Jersey with a rather large chip on his already weighted shoulders. Just three months ago Buchanan fought off charges of anti-Semitism, isolationism, and outright insanity after the release of his latest book, “A Republic, Not an Empire” and engineered a bitter separation from his beloved Republican Party in which he served two presidents. His leap into the wild fray known as the Reform Party, although expected for more than a year, caused more than a stir in the two other major parties.

Buchanan welcomes the moniker of outsider, even radical, yet harbors a great respect for conservative values he feels have been ignored inside the GOP. He confuses many prominent members of his former party while striking fear in the main political establishment because he simply doesn’t possess the polished abilities to cower from an old-fashioned verbal brawl. Jesse Ventura, the only elected member of the Reform Party, has refused to accept him and founder, Ross Perot has all but ignored him; but despite diminishing political options, Buchanan gears up for yet another improbable run for president.

When I caught up with him at a fund raiser in New Jersey he had already made a run of radio and television shows accusing everyone but the chosen few in his ever-entertaining Buchanan Brigade of railroading him. But when he addressed the crowd none of the usual sound bite rhetoric which made him an infamous speech writer for Spiro Agnew, Richard Nixon, and Ronald Reagan was present. Instead, he barked like a man desperately trying for one last shot at shaking the foundation of a stagnant political system.

No one in the political arena has been more vilified or romanticized than Pat Buchanan. Although many of his statements have pierced the heart of political correctness, there is something sincere about Buchanan’s honesty and anger. And although he has mastered the fine art of hyperbole, he pulls no punches when defending his causes and skewering his enemies—of which in the landscape of this the first presidential race of the 21st century, there are many.

jc: So The Commission on Presidential Debate, whatever the hell that is, is squeezing you out?

Buchanan: That we are not allowed in the debates because of some standard set up by the other two parties is an outrage. They’re afraid of us. And who runs this commission which decides this threshold? Paul Kirk, former national chairman of the Democratic Party and Frank Fahrenkopf, former chairman of the Republican Party. And you know what Fahrenkopf does for a living? He’s a million dollar lobbyist for the gambling industry! And who represents us? Nobody. I feel like a guy who comes into court and there’s two guys in the jury box deciding whether he’s going to be hung, and both get his estate if he’s hung. Now how do you think they’re gonna vote? (laughs) I told “Inside Politics” on CNN yesterday that this was a conspiracy to corner the market on the presidency of the United States, and Frank Fahrenkopf is leading that conspiracy. So, Frank was unhappy with me until he went on with my sister Bay on “Equal Time” about an hour and a half later. I think he and Bay almost got into a fist fight afterward. He does not want to mix it up with my baby sister.

From what I understand this is a case of taxation without representation since our money goes to matching funds for all political parties. I’m paying for your right to run for office, but I won’t get to hear from you.

That’s correct. The Reform Party is recognized by the government. It gets money for its convention. It gets matching funds for the general election, just as the other parties do. Why the other two parties have a right to deny our party a right to be heard by the American people is simply ludicrous. Listen, we can’t win the election if we can’t get our message out through a hostile media in the three national debates. We are going to fight this battle.

How do you plan to do so?

We’re going to fight it in court, we’ll fight it before the FEC on legal grounds, and we’re going to fight it in the court of public opinion. I think we’re going to win in the court of public opinion because the American people are first, fair minded and they know that your opponent shouldn’t be the ones who decide how often you ought to speak to them. Secondly, I think the American people themselves are gonna want to hear our views. They’re different, they’re strongly presented, and I think they’re right for the country. The American people have their own interest at heart, so we’re going to win this battle. Rely upon it.

Since the Reform Party seems divided into three or four factions right now, do you think this issue will unite the party?

This will unite the Reform Party. Every member of the party will agree we deserve a roll in the presidential debates to decide the next election. All Reformers can agree on that one.

Have you spoken to Ross Perot?

No I haven’t talked to Ross Perot. We tried to get in touch with Jessie Ventura when I was up in Minnesota and we will again.

There’s been some animosity there. Do you foresee pulling this thing together or will it be a rumble all the way to the convention?

We should all work together and get behind me. (laughs) Look, we’re going after this nomination even if we have to go up to Minnesota and body slam the big fella. We’re gonna do it!

None of the front men for this party seemed too thrilled with your conversion.

I saw the Donald (Trump) up there the other day, and he isn’t doing very well advancing the football from the sidelines, frankly. There has to come a time when you get down on the field, and right now nobody’s down on the field with us.

The word is that Trump could buy enough ballots to win the nomination.

The Donald’s got a hundred million dollars, just like Forbes has got a hundred million, and Bush has his hundred million, so I’ve got to do the footwork and get out there and get those people onto the ballots. You know I was out at that Iowa straw poll and I ran into Forbes and his tent had French doors on it! (laughs) I’m not kidding! I told him Bush raised $36 million in his first two months, and he says, “You know Pat, don’t worry about that, I can get that out of the petty cash drawer.” (laughs) But I know even with that and only 15% of the money in the general election, I’ll go on the television shows no one will go on, and we will make our case.

You’ve made a concerted, if not predictable, effort to trash the two party system since you left.

The Democratic party and the Republican party—at the national level, at the Washington level—have become Xerox copies of each other. And neither of them stand up and do what they say they will do. Both of them have the same agenda. Let’s take that war in Kosovo. In my judgment that was an illegal and unconstitutional war launched by the President of the United States in part to get him out of his latest jam. Seventy-eight days of bombing. They said it was genocide, and they’re in there now and they haven’t found any genocide. What happened is Serbia was bombed for 78 days and we’re right now boycotting heating oil, and people who never did a thing to this country are freezing to death in the winter. Now that’s not the kind of country I grew up in, and that I revere and that I love. And I regret to say the Republican establishment were as much for it as Mr. Clinton.

But most of this country’s involvement in fracases abroad are conducted by the UN. Do you expect the most powerful nation in the world to sit idly by while ethnic and religious cleansing goes down?

Mr. Kofi Annan says only the security council can decide when force may be used in the world. He now says that the sovereignty of any country can be brushed aside if the UN determines that human rights are being violated. Let me tell you something, the last time foreign troops violated the sovereignty of this country was in the battle of New Orleans and they ran into a fellow named Andrew Jackson. We cannot surrender our right to govern ourselves to any global new world order.

Now that gets into the issue of appearing what you have been accused of, and that’s an isolationist.

(smiles) That’s one of the sweeter things they call me. I write in my book that America has never been an isolationist nation. From our first days we were one of the greatest trading nations on earth. But our foreign policy has not been isolationist, it’s been independent. What the founding fathers said was no permanent or entangling alliances. During the American Revolution George Washington welcomed the alliance with France in 1778, but after the war was over we got out because we did not want get entangled in their war. You take care of your own family, your own people, first before you go around doing good. On that issue Bush, McCain, Bradley, Gore, they all disagree. They are global free traders. They’re all pro NAFTA, pro GAT, pro WTO. We have two parties that give us the same agenda, so we want to offer the American people a choice. This country’s never been an isolationist, and I am not an isolationist.

About your book, do you think the furor over it helped you for mere publicity alone?

I told my publisher there is no way that book is getting any attention. It’s a diplomatic history book. After my first book all anyone wanted to talk about at the time was Monica Lewinski, and this time I expected everyone to focus on the third party issue, but you know something? Thanks to Chris Matthews, Alan Dershowitz, and Bill Safire screaming their heads off about that book I was on the New York Times best seller list! (laughs) First time in my life!

Can you pinpoint the very moment when you were sure you were no longer a Republican and had to leave the party?

Look, I’ve got a warm spot in my heart for the grass roots of the Republican Party. I think it’s a good party at the grass roots, a lot of conservatives. My concern is I just had no loyalty to its hierarchy anymore, and I think they’ve walked away from their own grass roots and their own people, and their own best ideas and platform. And I’m just not going along with it. It’s gone on long enough.

If Reagan were running today would he do so as a Republican or a Reform Party candidate?

Well, if Ronald Reagan ran as a Republican it would be a far different story than what they’ve got now.

George W. Bush?

Bush doesn’t know who he is or what to think other than what he’s been programmed. What I’m planning to do on the way to my podium in one of the debates is pass by W. and say, “George, who is prime minister of Estonia?” (laughs) I’ll knock him off his game before the thing even starts!

Could you have envisioned another tussle inside the GOP for a nomination?

Not my concern anymore. I think Bush is going to win this thing fairly early. I think he could have it wrapped up by February first. And I think Mr. Gore is going to win, if not by February first, then latest, March. And all you press guys pumping up McCain and building up Bradley are going to be very unhappy your heroes have lost. And your going to complain that these other guys are boring. And when the general election comes around then you’re going to look out there and see that old troll is still under the bridge. And if you think you’ve come after me before, wait ‘till you come after us this time!

How would the king of debate, Al Gore stack up against you?

I’m a little nervous going up against a guy that invented the Internet. (laughs) You know Al said he and Tipper’s romance up there in Harvard served as the inspiration for “Love Story?” It’s true! He has this Wolf lady, or whatever it is, telling him he’s got to be an alpha man. He doesn’t know what he’s supposed to be anymore.

What do you think might have been accomplished during that mess of a demonstration against the WTO in Seattle?

Now you might not have seen me, but I was out there at the Battle of Seattle. I was out there all five days. The WTO didn’t see me because I was disguised as a sea turtle. (laughs) Moving around the imperial troops.

Imperial troops?

The cops.

What was the point of that mess?

There were environmentalists, Buchanan Brigaders, Ralph Nader was there, economic populists, traditionalists; and we were all saying the same thing:That this issue is not about trade, in the way they’ve framed it, but it’s about the sovereignty and the independence and the liberty of the United States of America. Who is this World Trade Organization to tell us what laws we can and can’t pass in the United States of America? What they are doing in Washington is giving away what the founding fathers of this great country fought and died for in Concord and Lexington when they stood up against the greatest empire in the world and said to the imperial troops of the British army that we will be masters of our own house. If we’ve gotta die to be it, we’re gonna die to be it. And they did it. And that is what we’re fighting for.

You’re planning on causing a ruckus, aren’t you?

I think we have pretty much astonished the establishment so far. We’ve been out there fighting battles, and the more they call me names and the more they say this and that it just tells me that we’re in this thing for the long haul.

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

Bill Bradley Letter- Political satirist James Campion implores fledgeling campaign

 

BILL BRADLEY LETTER

Date: 8/10/99 4:30 PM

Eric Hauser Press Secretary Bill Bradley For President

Mr. Hauser,

Al Gore must be stopped.

He is a lapdog Washington cretin with the credibility of a street pimp. His wife makes my skin crawl and if she is allowed to run unchecked through the White House we may as well sell the rest of our military secrets to the Chinese at half-price. I hope you realize that you presently work for one of the few people who can cease this terror from being unleashed on the American public. Are you prepared for true battle?

I am the main nerve for news, politics, and social issues for the Aquarian Weekly. Mostly freaks, drug addicts, the unemployed, or musicians read my column. However, any points of interest for the young voting public in the NJ, NY, Conn. area can be targeted through me—and anything short of all-out violent revolt or taking a slow boat to Australia, I am most likely going to endorse your candidate forcefully. It is in your best interest to keep me well informed. I would like to receive info and credentials to any appearance of Mr. Bradley or his tri-state campaign in the coming months.

This is mainly a liberal or independent publication. Yet, nearly every one of our readers would like to see Al Gore tarred and feathered, and hung from a flag pole outside the Vince Lombardi rest stop. And lest you think this information unworthy of your attention, I personally receive hundreds of letters a week to this end. These are people who are jacked to vote for anyone but Al Gore. Jesus, man, G.W. leads in most polls dealing with the 18-25 set. What are you people doing about that? These are free votes for Bradley, and I can bring them aboard. It’s a harmful existence, but we cannot be weak. And if your boy can’t stop that inane creature of hypocrisy I shall back whatever the Republicans can muster.

Let’s work together on this and you can sweep the tri-state area in the primaries, and we won’t have to worry about me painting the Democrats as “the home of pathetic losers and dipshits.”

Also, it is imperative that your candidate address issues pertaining to the federal government’s annoying penchant for sticking its nose in the arts, from film to music. An extremely sticky issue with myself and my readers. First Amendment rights and all that.

I can also be of use to you in the mudslinging department. Just last week I received nude pictures of your opponent with a donkey. Take from it what you will, but I was told it was the result of a campaign photo-op mishap that would have already been circulating the Internet if not for death threats and five-figure cash offers. Yours free for the asking.

Also note, it is optimum to fax the newspaper’s office when you send me e-mail. You will find it to be an effective way of working your points in other parts of the paper and getting a cover next summer or fall. Until I hear from you all…

Never Surrender, James Campion

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More

james campion.com

Journalism Review 4/15/96

ON THE TRAIL OF A KIDNAPPED JOURNALIST

Part One (Thrust into the angry mouth of the ’96 campaign on a hunch and a prayer)

“Do you see what those bastards are trying to do to my party?” The voice on the other end of a cellular phone screeched. It was the determined rant of an angered female named Joannie, one with a boulder-chip on her shoulder and probably the same disturbing gleam in a right eye that never seemed to blink. In all the time I’d taken her frenzied calls, I’d never heard her so all-hell riled up. It was a voice, yes, but more like the disturbing, repetitive screech of a rabid ferret gnawing its way through a metal cage. “In the holy name of Ronald Reagan,” she bellowed, “the idea is to win!”

Friends like Joannie come around once in a lifetime; well versed in political rhetoric and amped-up on fourteen cups of java a day, railing about one injustice after another. That’s the way true underground journalists work: a phone in one hand and a micro cassette recorder in the other, freelancing like a Times Square hooker for every twisted story dangling on the professional bate line.

But Joannie is just a child in this business; squeaky clean and emerald green from the sprawling fields of Michigan, thrust into the shark-infested waters of Washington DC like a bleeding minnow. She is one of those beautiful examples of wide-eyed optimists running rampart through the new world of the Fourth Estate.

I, on the other hand, have seen the ugly truth of real politics, foul dealings and back-room rugby scrums for the removal of a traffic light, much less the increase on tariffs or the deployment of troops. Joannie and me had always made an interesting team.

I first met her at a Trenton State campus rally for unfair parking permits back in 1982. Fresh from winning a journalism award for an expose on pregnant women’s abuse of certain grain alcohol’s and the effects on their fetuses, Joannie already exuded a ravenous appetite for a story. I had won a similar, meaningless award from the American Cancer Society for a story I’d written about a middle-aged man who refused to quit smoking even after his wife had died of lung cancer from his second hand smoke. The judges were especially impressed with my description of the deranged cretin smoking no-filter Lucky Strikes through the tracheotomy hole in his neck.

Joannie was a whiny liberal then, so full of passion for helping the destitute and saving whatever aquatic creature was rumored to be endangered. Although struggling with the morality of abortion, she found it almost impossible to balance her fervent defense of women’s rights and the power of any government to demand that a thirteen year-old, freckled-faced girl carry her rapist’s love child for nine months. In the end, though, it was economics and the charm of Ronald Reagan that convinced her to register Republican in 1984, ironically opposing the first presidential ticket with a woman on it. “Ferraro is a goddamn mobster’s wife,” she hissed, that fateful November day.

On a professional level, politics was never Joannie’s bag. She chose instead to delve into movie reviews and cooking blurbs, nailing the odd interview with a Midwestern town comptroller or local congressman for most of the 1980s’. But then, as with most newspaper work, the money dried up. “I’m going to the heart of journalism now,” she told me four short years ago.

Once in our nation’s capitol, Joannie found herself in the mouth of the dragon with nothing but her valiant heart. There was little covered in her Civics 101 or Introduction of Mass Media that prepared her for such a vile disregard for humanity, and on one particularly humorous call, I received in her first month there, she told me that only Dante himself could find the proper adjectives to describe the netherworld lurking inside the Beltway.

Certainly, nowhere in the text of any respected college course could one find the type of vitriol Joannie was presently spewing into my right ear as I surfed the cable channels for a decent sports highlight show. “There is no direction in the Grand Old Party anymore,” she continued, building mind-bending momentum. “Too many frightened people crawling behind a veil of weak apathy and phony posturing. Too many goddamn polls on fucking CNN! Who the hell runs these wretched things?!”

“Calm down,” I pleaded, attempting to swing the conversation into innocuous banter about spring fashions and the royal divorce. “How can you bark about such banal crap when Princess Di is left all alone,” I began. “This is a gender issue of grave importance.”

“Fuck that English cunt,” she blurted. “The Republican Party is imploding quietly under the weight of stale boredom, and that scumbag Clinton is going to rule the free world for four more fucking years!”

I knew her tantrum would lead to it. Every manic conversation with her lately had gone the way of the loyal opposition. Slick talking southern Democrats with the lilt of a country carnival barker always rubbed Joannie’s skin raw like fresh sandpaper on an open wound. Even above the incessant crackling of our conversation and the drone of the television I could hear her teeth grinding.

But she had it all wrong this time. “Bill Clinton is not the enemy,” I told her, carefully considering her fragile state of mind. “Oh I know that,” she said. “The enemy is bullshit! How to manufacture it, market it, and sell it. The Grand Old Party has forgotten how! Where have you gone Ronnie, our nation’s turns its lonely eyes to you!”

“Ronald Reagan dies in 1983,” I barked. “Everyone in Washington knew it at the time. They stuffed him and spliced together old tapes of speeches whenever they wheeled the carcass in front of the press. Do you think for one minute the Gipper would have let a dullard like Ollie North embarrass him like that?”

“Just how do you suppose a dottering old fool like Bob Dole will fare in a debate with the likes of Bill Clinton?” she asked, becoming more frantic. “Dole couldn’t debate that idiot Steve Forbes and he never even ran for school board!”

Just then, I happened by a news channel running the same tired footage of Pat Buchanan on the stump down South where he was repeatedly slaughtered by Rappin’ Robert Dole in practically every state that held a primary. Uncle Pat was busy waving his fist like some televangilist demanding money to keep Jesus from stealing the Statue of Liberty. God bless his mangled heart, I thought to myself, he is the only man demented enough to topple a vicious professional like Bill Clinton.

Uncle Pat was a pit bull with a spiked collar and a lusty taste for blood long before Big Bill even dreamed of running for class hall monitor. Not even the long arm of Dick Nixon could keep him from whipping up a few venomous lines for Spiro Agnew to read as part of a harmless ribbon cutting ceremony in Demoins, Iowa for the Knights of Columbus.

Oh, how the tiny hairs on the back of Bob Halderman’s neck would stand at attention when he would be forced to brief the president of some speech Buchanan handed Agnew. No target was too small for Uncle Pat’s sharp ideological arrows. He would proudly stand in the wings cackling as each sentence angered anyone within earshot who even remotely used their conscience.

After all, it was Uncle Pat who told a frazzled Nixon to “start a bonfire with those goddamn tapes,” when the Supreme Court came-a-knockin’ for the president’s impeachment. It was Uncle Pat who nestled at the bosom of such evil brutes like John Mitchell and Ed Meese during the bulk of the Nixon and Reagan empires, displaying sheer brilliance at keeping his hands clean and his fat ass out of jail. These are key assets for a candidate who entertains the challenge for the ultimate office.

Bob Dole couldn’t get a sniff of those type of activities. Nixon’s top aids would laugh like mischievous school boys whenever Rappin’ Rob would leave the room. He was a small player at the crap table and never did like to get his hands dirty. No one who gives half a shit about the future of the Republican Party would seriously cast a vote for Bob Dole. I know it, and apparently Joannie had come similar conclusions. Rappin’ Rob might have been a wounded in the Big One, but he would be lucky to come out of a real hard political battle with Big Bill with his dick still attached.

The president was even now revving up his campaign engines, stopping in the Lincoln bedroom to spark a joint and hold his breath. The truly connected people can tell its party time when a political bagman like James Carvillle starts spending quality time on every talk show from Ophra to Larry King, giggling like a mental patient at the thought of stomping a nice, bland old man like Bob Dole.

“It had better be Dole,” Carville shuttered. “Cause Buchanan’s got full color photos of the president screwing half the street walkers on Pennsylvania Avenue, Larry! Christ, we can’t deal with that bastard without serious ammunition!”

The more I thought about it, Joannie was right. But the further she raged on, the more muddled and diluted her thoughts had become, like a feverish child babbling about the cute purple dinosaur ripping up through the box spring to eat her alive. “I’m working for the party,” she whispered, when I concocted an excuse to hang up. “What?” I cried. “You’ve slipped into the abyss, never to return! No tabloid, or television station will have you now. Look what happened to that fucker at channel four! Your soiled, corrupted, finished in this business!”

A sudden clicking sound interrupted my tirade.

“Your other line is ringing,” I offered.

“I don’t have call-waiting,” she said nervously.

I knew it wasn’t me, having dropped that particular service as part of a tantrum I pulled during tempestuous negotiations with NYNEX not long after they tried to charge me for running six computers out of my house when I didn’t even own a computer. I remember frantically trying to call the FCC in a huff, but the lines were busy.

“Your fucking phone is tapped,” I barked, quickly slamming down the receiver.

I ran to my car and yanked the gear shift into first, grinding up one of the many hills surrounding my house in the thicket of Putnam County, New York. The nearest pay phone is a twenty-minute ride in any direction, but I managed to make it in ten, ignoring the double yellow lines and two stop signs.

On ring. Two rings. There was no answer. Whomever had tapped her line obviously alerted someone of her dangerous babbling and gotten to her. The chances were very good those involved had traced my number and would certainly be coming after me. If Bob Woodward had to carry a pistol around downtown Washington D.C., only God knows how easy it would be to get to a relative novice like Joannie. Especially if the Republican Party had her address, phone number and vital information.

As I stood in that phone booth, listening to one unanswered ring after the other, her predicament became clearer to me. She’d probably been stewing for days, maybe weeks, throwing back martinis in a bar across the street from the FBI building and going on and on about the party imploding while Bill Clinton ruled the world. It could easily have been the type of hysterical outburst that would perk the ear of any official in the know. For all Joannie knew, she was under surveillance for months and had given them all the evidence they needed for a covert kidnapping.

I fumbled through my wallet for the number of several publications that I’d freelanced for before, but it was late and I was having trouble trying to find the right words to present my reasons for running off to Washington DC in an attempt to rescue a crazed journalist from committing professional suicide. Not mention the possible ugly results of going toe to toe with angry Republican insiders.

That’s when the name Dan Davis popped into my swimming head. After all, it was Dirty Dan, who as a young reporter, had brought the Pet Rock industry to its knees. He was the editor of the leading underground newspaper on the East Coast, known far and wide for his profound drunken boasts on how he’d stretched the credibility of the First Amendment further than Howard Stern, Lenny Bruce and Cybersmut junkies. Luckily, his card was still in my wallet.

“It’s two o’clock in the goddamn morning, Campion!” he bellowed from the other end.

“Important feces has hit the fan, Davis,” I began.

“I have no money,” he interrupted, quickly surmising my train of thought.

“Hear me out,” I argued, feeling my final solution slipping through the cracks. I hurriedly explained the crisis while dumping a slew of change into the cold coin slot.

“I’ve never heard of this Joannie character,” he barked. “Call me when they beat up Dan Rather again.”

“This is a story that could lead to the steps of the Republican Convention in San Diego,” I cried pounding my hand on the glass in from of me. “There is trouble and there will be hell to pay by November!” Can you imagine a kidnapping in the heart of our nation’s capitol? Possible ties to the FBI, the CIA and most likely the fucking Kennedy assassination! It’s not O.J., but it’s gound-floor insurrection!”

“Sober up and call a psychatrist,” he calmly retorted. “I’m going back to sleep.”

“Joannie is a ticking time bomb,” I said, trying desperately to keep him on the line. “Even if nothing happened to her there’s a great chance she’ll do something bizarre. I’ll be in the eye of the storm I tell you. The whole presidential campaign could break wide open!”

“O.K., I’ll tell you what,” he slowly exhaled. “I’m not giving you dime-one to get to Washington. But if you find this chick, get to California, and manage credentials to the convention…” he hesitated, bringing my sense of urgency to dangerous levels of pure fear. “…then I’ll pay for the story as it develops.” Then he hung up.

That’s really all I needed to hear. Once a journalist has the pulpit in which to scratch the bloody surface of a story, the details become minutiae. I had just enough gasoline to get to an airport and plenty of plastic credit to get to DC, but one question remained: would Joannie still be there when I arrived?

Reality Check | Pop Culture | Politics | Sports | Music

 

Read More
Page 45 of 45« First...203040«4142434445