PRIMAL SCREED/James McCarty Yeager

Walk the Way the Wind Blows

Washington, D.C.

Washington Post editorial cartoonist Herblock famously gave Nixon a shave after The Trick finally won the presidency. From inauguration 1969 onward, Herblock stopped drawing The Trick all stubbly-faced with early-blooming five o'clock shadow. Forever afterwards Herblock just left The Trick looking properly jowly, twisted, and corrupt.

Now it may be time to give Shrub -- a/k/a Dubya, the Dauphin, or the Clown Prince -- a new nickname. One that makes him, if only rhetorically, his own man, instead of a shadow of his old man. One that sounds preppy enough to convey the true breadth and depth of his character. From now on, the dubious president-elect should be known as "Snippy."

The source for "Snippy" is this UPI report from post-election morning: "Gore made another call to Bush to withdraw his concession, at least temporarily. Gore aides reportedly heard the vice president, apparently getting some heated words from the Texas governor, saying, 'Well, you don't have to get snippy about it.'"

Christopher Hitchens was quoted to devastating effect on Slate's website the day of the election. He observed that Snippy is "unusually incurious, abnormally unintelligent, amazingly inarticulate, fantastically uncultured, extraordinarily uneducated, and apparently quite proud of all these things." Not having Reagan's senility to defend him from reality, Snippy's in for a hard ride if he succeeds in stealing this one.

The first time the Washington Redskins NFL team ever won the Stupor Bowl was the year it didn't count. There'd been a player strike and a number of victories were recorded using scab players. Real football fans have always put an asterisk next to that 'Skins crown denoting that, however official, it was still spurious, contrived, and tarnished.

Snippy still could finally win in the Electoral College that distinction the people refused to give him in the popular vote. Of course, Snippy believes his win is necessary to confirm his place in a dynasty of favor-takers, office-occupiers, and other non-synonyms for public servants. It is some consolation that, if he does win, he will have managed it in such a way that, for all moral purposes, it does not count.

And if Snippy were a real gentleman (instead of a otherwise-unqualified, white-male, legacy-acceptance, affirmative-action heir-head Yalie), he would have conceded to Gore as soon as it was clear that Gore had irretrievably won the popular vote. But he didn't.

And from such hubris is great misery born. Snippy thought he had to wipe out the family ignominy of having been beaten by a nobody like Clinton. Instead, Snippy could wind up an instant lame duck as a result of his fragile technical victory, if any. All the illegitimacy the Republicans assigned to Clinton all those years really could turn out to belong to Snippy. And will echo throughout Snippy's one term, as well as down through history.

For make no mistake, as the Trick used to intone. Snippy is headed for personally-induced self-destruction. The only thing that could save him from it is defeat. As an untreated alcoholic, drinking or not, Snippy is so full of self-righteous rage he makes Tom Delay look laid-back. Of Snippy's rage it is inevitable that "It's in him, and it's got to come out," as John Lee Hooker sang in a more benign context.

Recounts Galore

Joel Achenbach wrote the day after the election in a chat room on the Washington Post website: "We should pause for a moment to consider the fact that our nation's future is in the hands of a state founded by thieves, hucksters, real estate swindlers, swampland peddlers, and so forth. The idea of Floridians being entrusted to count something accurately is quite alarming." Too bad not everything on the Post website makes it into the print edition.

I was glad to see Al Gore fighting for every vote in Florida. County by county, precinct by precinct, page by page, ballot by ballot, comma by comma. Just like the election was as important as, say, impeachment.

Gore was sticking up for the majority of voters who, in any system more rational than the present one, would already have elected him. He should drag it out for a month, if necessary. People will forget in two years. Ask Henry Hyde if they won't.

It's not just some petty land deal or some argument over whether the legal definition of sex is the same as the common definition. It's about whether the moral fiber of the nation is going to be corrupted by having president elected by constitutional quirk instead of actual, enumerable ballots.

Above all, Gore must not let some Republican functionaries' ideas of "common sense" get in the way of principle. The actual republic is at stake, not merely the current fortunes of the party that misuses the adjective of the country's political form. The public must be served by getting it right, however long it takes.

Why, when the Republicans were so hot not to let Bill Clinton keep the presidency on a technicality, are they so hot to let Snippy get it on a technicality? These are the same Republicans who hated the idea of statistical sampling so much they almost brought down the entire Census, insisting on an "actual enumeration" as the only legal method of producing a certifiable undercount. Now they don't want to enumerate ballots, they want to statistically sample the country in the form of the Electoral College, and declare the Dauphin president.

Scary Comparison

Caroline Casey observed on her Visionary Activist Show on KPFA-FM in Berkeley election week that younger, mildly competent brother Jeb Bush, watching Snippy almost get elected, must have been as full of outrageous suffering as Jimmy Carter would have had if he'd had to watch Billy Carter become President.

James McCarty Yeager is recounting the fallen leaves in his patch of forest along the northeast bank above the Little Falls of the Potomac River.

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