Thursday, September 23, 2004

Bush League Politics? It Ain't Right!

This month, HBO is featuring Chris Rock's modest box office hit, "Head Of State." This 2003 comedy chronicles how our misshapen politics could elect someone the establishment didn't prefer. Is this story really that implausible?

Chris Rock plays a poor Washington, DC, alderman. His days are wrapped up trying to keep his desperate ward from collapsing under the pressures of poverty. The scene switches to a presidential campaign committee meeting. The members conclude the incumbent vice president is too strong, with potential challengers preferring to wait four years for the political climate to change. Meanwhile, they needed someone to take an election loss for the team. Chris Rock was chosen to be the fall guy.

Chris went through the motions on the campaign trail just as his handlers expected him to. His brother advised him to dump the canned speeches and speak from his heart. Confidently, Chris strode to the podium before a crowd of middle Americans. A hearty applause quickly shrank to silence. Then, he clicked off his TelePrompTer before he began to speak.

He noted the race was too much about politicians and too little about the people. He ticked off each instance how most Americans were being cheated and defeated. He punctuated each point with: "That ain't right!" The people in the hall responded in kind: "That ain't right!" The litany went on and on. Then, he closed his speech by saying: "Not only is this not right, this sh** is flat out WRONG!" The standing ovation was deafening. He went on to win, despite the surge of negative ads flung at him.

In these closing weeks before election 2004, John Kerry could learn a lot from this movie. Al Gore lost the 2000 presidential race because he didn't turn the TelePrompTer off. His wooden appearance changed shirts and suits, but his message remained the same: canned. Moreover, he tried to play the game the Bush way. When the time came for him to defend the disenfranchised Florida voters, he failed. Instead, Gore argued he was the harmed party, as did Bush. When Gore should've supported the people, he was not there. John Kerry will surely lose this election if he makes the same mistake.

The brutal Bush regime will go down as the worst in US history because its policies are flat out wrong. There's no positive value to be found. The Iraq war is more than wrong. It's a crime against humanity. Someone has to be held accountable for the lost lives. John Kerry has to find some spine; turn off his TelePrompTer and tell it like it is. While responding to the swift boat lies, he strongly stated Bush's "W" stands for wrong. Perhaps, he was inspired by "Head Of State." More important, Kerry must continue to stress people problems and their solutions, not politics.

This movie was a takeoff on the 1992 Bush/Clinton race. The Comeback Kid got the nod because the more seasoned candidates refused to run. They figured the first Iraq war made Bush 41 unbeatable. Youthful enthusiasm, a never-say-die attitude and a great program for renewing America won the day. This was a winning formula in 1992 and 1996. John Kerry would do well to follow it.

Bill Clinton was nicknamed the first black president because he made an effort to feel our pain. He was derided as being too soft and sensitive. Now, John Kerry is being smeared as being too sensitive, as if sensitivity is some sort of disease. Kerry must point out the opposing Bush position of insensitivity is tantamount to alienation from the people. The Bush embargo on the truth is the heavy heart of our problems today.

It's a stretch to believe Kerry will become America's second black president. He lacks Bill's sax appeal. Nevertheless, he has the qualities for executive leadership. George Bush has demonstrated he has none. John Kerry will win this race if he keeps pounding the message: "W" stands for wrong. Bush league politics? It ain't right! This Bushit is flat out WRONG!

Franklin L. Johnson


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