Now it's time to debate merits of the candidates

ROGER SIMON

December 18, 1991|By ROGER SIMON

So who's going to be the next president?

Good question. Did you watch the big Democratic debate?

You bet. I'm a good American.

So who'd you like?

I can't remember his name. But he wore a dark suit.

They all wore dark suits.

Well, I think he was a white guy.

Five of them were white guys.

He had a real snazzy tie.

That was Tom Brokaw! He's not running for president.

Oh. Well then, I guess I'll go with Clinton Harkin.

Clinton and Harkin are two separate guys. One is a senator from Iowa and the other is governor of Arkansas.

Are you sure?

Yeah. They have to be two separate guys because they're both in the Top Tier.

What's that?

It's a device the media have for deciding the election before anybody votes. The media have already picked the front-runners for us. They have decided that Clinton, Harkin and Kerrey -- he's a senator from Nebraska -- are the Top Tier. And Wilder, governor of Virginia, Tsongas, former governor of Massachusetts, and Brown, former governor of California, are the Bottom Tier.

Are you kidding me?

No. Listen to this from the Associated Press right after the debate: "With Clinton and Kerrey in the top tier is Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, the field's firebrand."

So the media have cut the field in half already?

Yeah. It's a little service they provide.

Which one is Kerrey again?

White guy. Dark suit. Big head.

Never heard of him.

Lost a leg in Vietnam? Won the Medal of Honor?

Doesn't ring a bell.

He dated Debra Winger.

Oh, him. The Debra Winger guy. Hey, I wonder what he thought of "The Sheltering Sky." I mean she was buck naked in that.

So what? She's an actress.

Yeah, but if Kerrey wins, she might become first lady. You want to think about a buck naked first lady?

I'd rather not. But Kerrey did well in the debate. The media said so. When Brokaw asked him why he wanted to be president, Kerrey answered with candor.

What's "candor" mean?

It means he didn't outright lie. Brokaw asked Kerrey "what prompted you to decide that you could be president of the United States?"

And Kerrey said he "made the decision that I would like to be president of the United States and then the next question was why?"

Well, that's candor.

Sure is. It's like saying: "Hmmmm. President. Indoor work.You make $200,000 a year plus expenses. No windows. Yeah, I'd like that. Now I got to think up a reason why."

And did he?

Oh, yeah. He said during the debate: "I want to go into a different kind of future, to build a great economic base in the United States of America because . . . people in the United States of America not only are hurting, not only have we turned this page and entered this post-Cold War era, with substantially reduced economic possibility, but our federal government and our own policies are poorly organized."

Jeez. What does that mean?

It means: Indoor work. $200,000 a year. No windows.

Was Kerrey the guy who held up the dollar bill?

No, that was Harkin. He was making fun of the middle-class tax break that some people are proposing. He said Americans would get only a dollar a day and "a dollar a day to a family is a joke."

Does that mean we'd get $365 a year?

Yeah.

Well, heck, I'd take 365 bucks. It's no joke to me.

It is to a U.S. senator like Harkin. He makes $125,100 a year.

Is that why he held up the dollar?

Yeah. He thought it was a novelty item. Senators rarely handle anything less than a double sawbuck.

Anybody else goof?

Well, Wilder said that in choosing a vice president he would look over his five opponents and then "look over the ladies."

What's wrong with that?

You can't say "ladies" any more.

What should he have said?

He should have said: "I will look over fully-realized human beings of the female gender who certainly could do a better job than any man given a level playing field, which women have long and unfairly been denied."

Kind of wordy isn't it?

Not to a presidential candidate.

Did one guy really start reading a newspaper in the middle of the debate?

Yeah, that was Jerry Brown. He has become the Bart Simpson of presidential politics.

He wants to give out his 800 number every time he goes on TV so people can send him dough. But the networks don't want him to give it out on the air.

So what's he going to do?

Probably tattoo it on his forehead.

These Democrats don't seem like much. I think I may go Republican. Who have they got to choose from?

George Bush. Pat Buchanan. David Duke.

Oh. So maybe I'll give the Democrats one more chance. HC

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