Campaign Crawlers

The Political Blaine Game

Democratic candidates continue 544-day starvation stunt.

By 10.22.03

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With magician David Blaine having ended his stunt in London, going 44 days without any sustenance, political observers turned their attention to an ongoing and potentially more dangerous venture as the Democratic candidates for president vowed once again to reach their goal of campaigning for 544 days without the slightest bit of substance.

The candidates continue to claim that they've taken adequate steps for this marathon bout of intellectual starvation, having bulked up on a diet of leftist clichés, cheap shots at Attorney General John Ashcroft and reflexive opposition to President Bush's policies, but experts point out that this type of thin gruel can provide only empty calories at best. As the Democrats have stopped chewing over ideas and become increasingly lightweight as a result, teams of spin doctors have taken to closely monitoring both their conditions and their positions. The doctors say the 18-month fast, from summer 2003 to Election Day 2004, should have no lasting negative effects on the body politic but still, the doubts remain.

The lack of substance seems to have affected the mental acuity of more than a few of the candidates. Observers say only intellectual-starvation-induced delirium can explain Senator John Kerry voting against the $87 billion appropriation for military and reconstruction efforts in Iraq after voting for the war in the first place or denouncing the Patriot Act, once again, after voting for it. Fearing possible dehydration, Kerry's aides moved swiftly to increase his daily intake of Perrier and Evian.

Former Vermont governor Howard Dean became the first to show the effects of decreased concentration over the last few months, groggily insisting that "it's not our place to take sides" between Israel and the Palestinians, that he "supposed" the ouster of Saddam Hussein was a good thing and that most middle-income people got no more than one hundred dollars from the Bush tax cuts. Immediately after these outbursts, Dean wrapped himself in several thick blankets to stop the loss of any more political heat.

Even newcomer General Wesley Clark has had delusions of grandeur during the prolonged stunt, saying he imagined that at one time he'd voted for Ronald Reagan and announcing as a Democratic candidate before even registering as a Democrat. And, in light of Clark's ever-shifting positions on Iraq, rumors are rife that aides have violated the rules and surreptitiously taken to feeding him his talking points intravenously.

Needless to say, the venue in which the candidates have undertaken their stunt has proven less than ideal. They remain encased in a square plastic container which, as one wag put it, symbolizes their inability to think outside the box. Positioning themselves far above the average voter in the nation's public square has only served to attract troublemakers who, in one instance, commenced to cook several meaty issues beneath the Democrats. The mouth-watering aroma of this political red meat, such as what ideas they might have for dealing with Iran's and North Korea's nuclear weapons programs and terrorist-sponsoring nations in general and what they would do differently in post-war Iraq and Afghanistan, must have been extremely tempting for the substance-eschewing candidates who, in the end, steadfastly refused to digest the topics at hand.

Of course, this isn't the first time the Democrats have wagered everything on a high-stakes political stunt more suited to a media-hungry performer. Recall President Clinton balancing himself high atop a series of polls for eight years or when Vice President Al Gore, during the 2000 campaign, was frozen and immobilized within traditional Democratic voting blocs of ice.

However, the final word on the subject may have come from the average citizen who confronted Senator John Edwards on the campaign trail recently. Taking the form of a classic comedy routine, the Senator was heard to plead, "My party is starving for ideas and hasn't eaten in years," only to hear the rejoinder, "Force yourself!"

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About the Author

Steve Hornbeck, a former writer for ABC's Politically Incorrect, lives in Albany, New York.