YOU HAVE TO hand it to the Arizona Legislature for blowing a couple million bucks on a presidential primary to benefit a candidate who couldn't even last through New Hampshire.

Last year, state lawmakers created next Tuesday's primary after a lot of arm-twisting by Sen. John McCain and bankrupt Gov. J. Fife Symington III, who had cooked up a scheme to give Phil Gramm's campaign a boost after an expected trouncing in the Granite State. As it worked out--another credit to the political instincts of our GOP leadership--Gramm was so repulsive to the average voter that he didn't even register in Arizona polls. By the time he dropped out of the race, Gramm had about as much chance to win this farce as O.J. Simpson did. Well, Phil, you know what they say: It couldn't have happened to a nicer guy.

So without Gramm, who's left?

Well, there's bleeding Sen. Bob Dole, who's just seen New Hampshire slip right out of his fingers. It must be hell to be Dole--all those times around the Beltway, and he still can't get more than 30 percent of the vote in his own party.

The quintessential Washington insider, Dole likes to stress that he's been "tested," but that experience has become a gigantic albatross around his neck. Dole is the victim of 1994's GOP revolution, with all its throw-the-bums-out fervor. As the Republicans are now learning, whipping up that kind of anti-incumbent karma can leave you reaping the whirlwind.

In this case, the whirlwind--perhaps a more appropriate term would be maelstrom--is populist avenger and budding fascist Pat Buchanan. We have to confess: When Pat talks about stopping CEOs from giving themselves million-dollar bonuses for shipping U.S. jobs overseas, we can't help but agree. Right on, Pat!

Image But then we realize we're the sort of troublemaking liberal scum he'd like to herd into relocation camps with working moms, mud people, doctors who perform abortions and anyone else who deviates from the standard missionary position--and the luster starts to fade.

Here's an example of how absurd the presidential selection process has become:Pat managed to pull off an upset in New Hampshire by a couple thousand votes and now he's claiming a mandate. Meanwhile, the party establishment is beginning to worry he might really have one.

Pat is supposed to be riding in our rodeo parade on Thursday, February 22, which is fitting when you consider that he's fighting to return the country to the 19th century. It's even money as to who'll spread more horseshit--Buchanan or all the animals in the parade.

Image The other beneficiary of Dole's collapsing support is former Tennessee Gov. Lamar Alexander, who's got a plaid shirt and a vague notion he'd like to turn over all the money spent on social programs to local charities to dole (if you'll pardon the expression) out as they see fit. Sounds like he put a lot more thought into his wardrobe than his platform.

Then there's Steve "Fading" Forbes, the gazillionaire whose primary promise was to cut his own taxes at the expense of most Americans. Here's a guy who hires two of the most vicious thugs in politics away from Jesse Helms, spends the gross national product of Japan on attack ads and then complains he's the victim of negative campaigning. His spots have been so relentless we're hoping we'll be able to get a V-chip installed in our tubes just to screen out his mind-numbing crap.

And these are the serious contenders--remember the other stiffs in the race?

Image Dick Lugar? His biggest moment came when he aired an ad showing him saving the world--and a cute little girl--from nuclear terrorists. That's a real issue these days--if you live in terror of the Goldwater Jihad.

Bob Dornan? Nevermind what automatic weapons editor Emil Franzi says elsewhere on this page--B-1 Bobby is one mean-spirited warmongering sonofabitch. The big surprise is that he's coming off as the statesman in this clusterfuck.

Alan Keyes? Hell of an orator, for someone who's convinced God commanded him to seek the nomination. Keyes hasn't let a complete absence of support dissuade him from campaigning, proving again that the Lord works in mysterious ways.

Image Morry Taylor? He's another one of these millionaires with no political experience who has bought his way into the race. Screw that seven-year bullshit--Taylor says he'll balance the budget in 18 months by slashing the federal workforce by a third. That's sure to stabilize the country.

Of course, not all these folks may be familiar to you, since we haven't seen much of them. They've been busy campaigning in Iowa and New Hampshire--a wrinkle our state Legislature never considered when they decided to blow the bucks on this sham. You can't campaign two places at once, so we've been treated to TV ads rather than actual appearances (which has been a real windfall for TV stations).

Image Hell, we haven't seen a single campaign sign in Pima County, which goes to show you how excited rank-and-file Republicans are over these stiffs. We're guessing turn-out is going to be 15 percent, tops.

Pathetic candidates, backward policies, a fractured party and voter apathy--Republicans have come a long way since that big win in November 1994. We can't wait for the GOP convention.

Why I'm Voting For B-1 Bobby!

By Emil Franzi

ARIZONA REPUBLICANS ARE about to face the difficult decision of voting in a presidential pseudo-primary that was created by the state's party leadership for the sole purpose of boosting the candidacy of a man who is no longer a candidate, Sen. Phil Gramm, R-Soft Porn.

As a basic right-wing nut, I have a dilemma. All these guys are trying to tell me how conservative they are, but there's really only one genuine article on the ballot--California Congressman Bob Dornan.

Image Forget Pat Buchanan. Mr. America-First had his ass caught driving a Mercedes in New Hampshire last time. And his economic policies are a strange blend of Albert Speer and John L. Lewis.

And forget Alan Keyes. He had some high-falutin' job with the Foreign Service back when Dornan was still fighting for the B-1 Bomber--a fight he waged so powerfully that he's still known by the nickname B-l Bobby. Keyes is a fake know-nothing.

Forget those neo-kooks. Dornan has been a certified hard-core kook for decades. He was a right-wing nut before is it was fashionable.

And there's style. Dornan has one. As he said in Florida, all the rest of the candidates are charismatically challenged. Besides, how many Congressman do you know who've got the cajones to call the president of the United States a traitor and lose House floor privileges for a day because of it?

Lamar Alexander and Bob Dole are both too wimpy. And Richard Lugar is out of it. As for Steve Forbes, get real. On some social issues it turns out he's to the left of Clinton.

Dornan has also shown more party loyalty than the rest of the back-stabbing pack. He stayed tight with President George Bush in '92 and has chastised his fellow candidates for attacking Dole.

Bush, Dole and Dornan are the only GOP candidates who ever wore a uniform. Unlike many GOP hawks who dodged being in a real war, Dornan not only tried to start a couple himself, but actually wanted to fight in them. Give him credit for lack of hypocrisy. And for doing what the liberal media always whine about--running an issues campaign.

And give him credit for soul. With so many fraudulent poll-sucking weenies hiding behind a host of handlers, Bob Dornan lets it all hang out. Unlike the rest, what you sees is what you gets.

You give me a ridiculous primary to vote in and I give you back a ballot marked accordingly. Forget who can win. Forbes and Buchanan ain't gonna be president either, so what the hell. I'm going with Bob Dornan. And I'll never have to say "I'm sorry." TW

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