Truthful candidate says: Don't get your hopes up


November 16, 1992|By MIKE ROYKO

"It's finally over," said Slats Grobnik. "And they did it again."

Did what again?

"They didn't level with me. Not one of the three did it. But I'm not surprised. It never happened before, so why should it happen now?"

Level with you about what?

"About what I can expect from them."

And what is it that you expect?

"Not much. And that's what I wish they'd tell me, so I don't get my hopes up."

You want a candidate for president to tell you not to expect much? What kind of political campaign would that be?

"An honest one. I mean, I'd like to hear a candidate say, 'My fellow Americans, if you elect me president, I will try not to goof things up worse than they are now.' "

Well, I suppose that would be an attention-getter.

"You bet. See, if it was me, I'd say: 'The truth is, the office of the president is kind of overrated. Sure, if there is a war, then I'm really big heat. But when there ain't no war, you'd be amazed at all the things I can't do.' "

An interesting approach, telling voters what you can't do for them. Would you deal with specifics?

"Kinda. I'd say: 'I know a lot of you got problems of one kind or another. Most people got problems. And I wish I could solve your problems. But the truth is, I can't. Nobody can. You know why?' "

Would you tell them why?

"Sure. I'd say: 'As your president, I won't be able to solve your problems because most people cause their own problems. You gripe about the legal system. But what's the biggest legal problem? It's divorces. So who told you to marry that palooka or that bimbo? You get married, then you're miserable, and now you're at each other's throats for child custody, making your own kids goofy, so who do you blame? The lawyers and the judges. Hey, the lawyers didn't tell you to get married and make each other miserable. So work it out yourself. And do us all a favor; don't get married again for a while.' "

I'm sure it would get people talking.

"Yeah. Then I'd get into the jobs thing. I'd say: 'I know that a lot of you don't have jobs right now, although it ain't nearly as bad as the newsies make it out to be. And I know that some of you are just victims of whatsis, circumstances or something. But I'll tell you why most of you who don't have jobs don't have jobs.' "

So tell us.

"I'd say: 'Because you didn't learn how to do something that somebody needs done. Maybe you goofed around in school or dropped out. Or maybe you thought learning something useful was more bother than it was worth, and you figured you'd al ways find something that would let you get by. Sorry, but as your president, there's nothing much I can do about that. Don't let nobody kid you: The government is good at training soldiers and sailors, but not much else. If you want to learn something useful, you got to do it on your own.' "

That would be your jobs program? Telling people they're on their own?

"No. I'll talk about creating jobs. I'll say: 'OK, I'll get together with Congress, and we'll come up with some public works stuff. But highways and bridges don't come cheap. So read my lips: You want stuff done, you're gonna have to pay for it. Either that or we go deeper in hock. Suit yourself.' "

Suit yourself? That will get you a lot of votes. What about education, health care, crime?

"I'm getting there. I'd say: 'When it comes to education, most of the schools in this country ain't so bad. The problem is in the cities, where the poor people live. So here's my idea for that. Any poor parent who ain't got a job and ain't a prospect to get a job has got to go to school with the kids. That way they can keep the kids from getting out of line, so the teachers have a chance to teach and maybe they'll learn something themselves. I think that would be a good step in what they call breaking the bicycle of poverty.' "

And health care?

"Ask any doc what's wrong with people's health. They eat too much, they eat the wrong stuff, and they don't get exercise. Then they expect a president and the Congress to give them a health program to make them well. So I'd say: 'Hey, stop stuffing all that garbage in your fat face, lose some of that blubber, go walk a couple miles a day, lay off the hootch and the smokes, and you'll feel a lot better. But if you don't want to, at least stop complaining.' "

You can't tell people not to complain. Complaining is a constitutional right.

"Sure, but does it have to be our national pastime? Listening to all the moaning, you'd think we were one of those third or fourth world countries with everybody's ribs sticking out and flies walking on our lips. So that's why I'd say: 'OK, in conclusion, if you elect me president, I'm not going to pass any new laws and I'm not going to spend any money and I'm going to fire all the bureaucrats and I'm going to let all of you work things out for yourselves. Good luck, and I'll see you in four years. God bless America, and all those other countries, too, because those people ain't chopped liver, you know.' "

You would have rioting in the streets, anarchy, chaos.

"So, what else is new?"

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