Truth-slinging makes election clear as mud


October 21, 1992|By MIKE ROYKO

"I don't understand why people are complaining about all the dirty politics in this campaign," Slats Grobnik said.

Because many Americans are turned off by vicious politics. They want a reasoned presentation and discussion of the issues.

"Not me. I think all this is truth-slinging."

Truth-slinging? You mean mud-slinging.

"Well, you call it mud-slinging. But to me, all the rotten stuff they say about each other sounds true, so I call it truth-slinging."

You believe the reckless and unfair allegations they are making about each other?

"I ain't heard nothing that sounds unfair. Bush and Quayle, they keep saying that Clinton is a slippery character who keeps switching his story about the draft, and where he stood on the war with Saddam, and other stuff. And that's true, ain't it?"

I don't know if it is fair to call him slippery, but I suppose he's bobbed and weaved and changed his mind a few times. However, so has Bush. Are we to believe that Bush didn't know about the Iran-contra sneakiness?

"No, I think he knew. So that means that both of them, Clinton and Bush, are slippery characters. And that's what I mean about truth-slinging being good. Now we know that we got to choose between two slippery characters."

You exclude Ross Perot.

"No, I think he's kind of slippery, too, except he's better at pretending he ain't slippery. That's the advantage you get when you're short and got big ears and talk like a country-and-western yokel. People forget how you got rich."

You mean the mud-slinging about his use of clout.

"Not mud, truth-slinging. Sure, he made his fortune with government contracts. He gripes about political insiders, but where did he make his bundle -- standing in line at a Social Security office? He's almost as big an insider as Bush."

So you do concede that Bush has had a privileged life and career?

"Sure. That's some more real truth-slinging, when they say he don't understand ordinary people, which is why he can't figure out why so many of them are mad at him.

"How's he supposed to understand problems of ordinary people? When he started his oil business, his family gave him a stake that I figure would be almost 2 million in today's dollars. My old man gave me the help wanted ads.

"And because his pa was a blue-blood senator himself, Bush knew the ins and outs and the way was greased for him. Yeah, he's a real shot-and-a-beer guy."

Then you must admire Clinton's humble origins.

"Hey, spare me that humble origins stuff. The way he talks, you'd think he was Abe Lincoln, but he didn't have it half bad, and it didn't take him long to find some political clout in Arkansas and use it. Now he's turned into some kind of jukebox."

A what?

"That's what he reminds me of. You push a button and it plays a song. Then you push another button and it plays a different song. Then you go back and play the first button and it plays the same song over again. Him and his running mate, the pretty boy."

You mean Albert Gore. You don't like him, either?

"He looks like he's been dipped in the wave-set my wife used to use on her hair. He's like one of those big mechanical puppets at DTC Disney World. His mouth opens and out comes the same stuff. Him and Bill Clinton are going to do this, and they're gonna do that. Why don't he just come out and say they're going to juice up the taxes?"

See, you have fallen for the Republican mud-slinging about tax-and-spend, tax-and-spend.

"What, you think they won't tax and spend? Where the Democrats gonna get the money to pay for everything they promise, by sending their wives out on the streets in hot pants and boots?"

Ah, but what about all the Republican taxing and spending?

"Sure, and that's true, too. So they're splattering each other with the same truth. No matter who's in there, our money ain't safe."

Am I to assume you are leaning toward Perot?

"I thought about it until I heard this admiral he put on as his running mate. I know he was a great hero in the prison camps, and I respect him for it. And I read some of the stuff he wrote, and I know he is a pretty smart guy, and I respect him for that, too. But when I heard him on TV, I thought: 'Uh-oh, the third guy didn't show up so they ran outside and yanked this innocent bystander off the street.'

"No, I don't expect everybody to talk like Ronald Reagan, but the only time I understood him was when he said he forgot to turn on his hearing aid. I'll say one thing for him, he ain't slick."

But today, all politicians must be somewhat slick. The voters expect it.

"That's right, which is why Clinton is winning. He's slicker than Bush, although I got to give Bush credit for trying to get a little slicker. In that first debate, you could tell by the way he put his hand in his pocket and kind of slouched and tried to be cheerful that he rehearsed by watching old Cary Grant movies."

It sounds to me like you are still in the ranks of the undecided.

"Nah, I know who I'm gonna probably vote for. But I'm still undecided about one thing."

That is?

"Whether to use my fingers to hold my nose closed or a clothespin."

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