What a week this is

Feb 16, 2000 at 12:00 am

This may be the week that decides the presidency. Seven days from now, we will know – thanks to Michigan and South Carolina – whether the plucky candidacy of John McCain has a shot at overcoming the trillion or so dollars and many phalanxes of hack GOP politicians propping up the SOB (Son O’ Bush).

Bush light is clearly worried. To prove he is an intellectual heavyweight, he actually had Danny Quayle shipped to South Carolina to "reassure conservatives," though it isn’t quite clear of what. Proud parents Barbara and Poppy are frantically crisscrossing the primary states, proclaiming "this boy, this son of ours," is really his own man.

Yeah, right. Never in modern times has there been a front-runner so vacant. Everything indicates no "there" there, no inner core, just a collection of fuzzy positions crafted and tailored to suit the interests who own a piece of him.

Yet the odds are stacked hugely in his favor. Here’s what has to happen to give the challenger a fighting chance: McCain has to beat Bush in South Carolina Saturday – or come very, very close – and then win Michigan Tuesday. Do that, and he just might gain enough momentum for the March 7 16-state "national primary." Falter, and the machinery will swiftly and inevitably give the nomination to a man whose only agenda seems to be to reassure the GOP establishment that he won’t rock their boats, while persuading the far-right religious loonies whose money and votes they cynically harvest he’s on their side.

What is most amazing is that millions of voters, after decades of being hornswoggled and betrayed, still want so much to find someone in whom they can believe. Whatever else he is, McCain is an authentic hero with a mind of his own, who promises weekly press conferences and a version of that wonderful parliamentary tradition, "Question Time." He says he’d subject himself to questioning – live, on television – by congressmen of both parties. "That kind of exchange would be good for America," he told Newsweek, even knowing that "the president would be embarrassed." Yes, I know that politicians break lots of promises. It is also clear McCain sometimes has a horrible temper, has treated at least one reporter like shit for writing a story he found insufficiently flattering, wanted to send ground troops to Kosovo, and is guilty of hypocrisy when it comes to campaign funds. Yet a lot of people are finding to their surprise that they may have someone to vote for on Washington’s Birthday, not just an empty suit to vote against.

And then there are the Democrats. If you liked George Orwell’s concept of "Newspeak," you’ll love Mark Brewer and the gang down at the Michigan Democratic Party, who are working overtime to make the Republicans look good.

The Brewerites (a far better name for these people) faxed me a press release the other day every bit as honest as the stuff Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu used to emit. As you may recall, these creatures are boycotting the primary. Officially, their reason is that they can’t make sure only Democrats vote – which proves precisely how un-American they are. Today, with the exception of paid party bureaucrats, virtually every voter wants the freedom to switch between parties. Brewer and his controller, UAW boss Steve Yokich, hate free elections, such as the primary in 1998 where voters rejected their hand-picked bozo-for-governor, Larry Owen.

They can’t quite bring themselves to utter that truth. So they deliver bullshit like this quote from Brewer in a Jan. 31 release. "The Feb. 22 presidential primary is solely a taxpayer-funded private election for Republicans," and claim this is why Bill Bradley and Al Gore removed their names from the ballot. Marko knows better. The Michigan Legislature set up the primary a decade ago, with broad bipartisan support. Democrats used it in 1992, and Bill Clinton beat Paul Tsongas and Jerry Brown. Now, the Brewerites claim the national party rules won’t allow them to participate in a primary where there is no party registration. They won’t tell you, however, that this exactly what Wisconsin does.

The brew crew pressured the major candidates to take themselves off the primary ballot. Instead, probably after other states decide the nominee, the Brewerites will hold "caucuses" March 11. Except they will only let you vote for Bradley or Gore. They’ll count the votes for you too, comrades, before they announce Gore was the easy winner.

Oops. Promised not to tell, tee-hee. What also is telling is that they now like to refer to their party as the "MDP," which sounds sinister (KGB) or like a boring European socialist party (PDS). Incidentally, despite their lie, there is a Democratic primary, too, though the only name on the ballot is that of Lyndon LaRouche, a nutball, true, but evidently the only Democratic candidate not afraid of the people. Naturally, the MDP won’t allow you to vote for him in its caucuses, either; he is "not recognized as a Democrat by either the national or state party." The political bosses of the ’60s who fought to keep blacks and anti-war types off ballots would be proud. Apart from all this, there is another most excellent reason to vote McCain. It would deeply embarrass John Engler, posturing now as Bush’s pit bull. It might even wreck his hopes to be towel boy in the Bush White House. Last week he again promised Michigan would be the shrub’s "firewall." Do I hear a cheer for arson?