August 08, 2007
Overtime At Soldier Field
So I'm in Chicago yesterday for my grandfather's birthday. Milo Balczak just turned 95. Big democrat, loves the Sox, but goes absolutely GAGA over Keith Olbermann's reporting on Countdown. Though for some reason, Grampa Milo persists in referring to him as "Kevin Overmeyer", no matter how many times we try to set him straight. Anyway, since i'm in town during the debate, i pull some strings through a client who owes me a favor and score front row seats at the Soldier Field debate. i also arrange it so Grampa Milo gets personally introduced to his media hero.
It turns out I'm the one who gets the big surprise, though. Grampa Milo was a Teamster enforcer in his day. Fought alongside Hoffa and those guys. When i tell him we're going to the debate, he calls his AFL-CIO buddies and arranges a post-debate interview with all the candidates for his political junkie grandson. Can't keep an experience like that under a bushel, so i've transcribed the interview for your reading pleasure. But I'll tell you, I think these people were all still in their 'debate' frame of mind when we talked......
ME: Thank you all for the opportunity. I don't want to waste your time so I'll just jump right in with the questions. Senator Clinton, in recent years we have seen Russia return to its old bullying form. There have been signs of their interference with democracy movements in neighboring republics such as Ukraine and today it was reported they may have fired some sort of test missile at the Republic of Georgia. How would a Clinton administration handle the Russian menace?
CLINTON: Well let me say first of all that just because my campaign has accepted contributions from Vladimir Putin does not at all mean he'll have any influence in what i do as President. Russians - and even their lobbyists - are people too, and if they want to shower me with rubles and royalties from the Irkutsk pipeline it doesn't mean i might somehow feel obliged to return the favor some day. That said, the Russians only respect strength, and if America's looking for a craven, ruthless ice queen who can match the Russian Bear's amorality anti-scruple for anti-scruple, then I'm your gal.
ME: Senator Obama, your response
OBAMA:...Look,.....the notion......that you have to mirror your enemy in order to defeat your enemy...I reject that. If Osama turns up in St. Petersburg and Putin won't act, then of course, we will have to push the button. But first, you go through diplomatic channels, so it hopefully doesn't come to that.
CLINTON: Let me just interject here that the Senator's suggestion that you can somehow just "push a button" i think reflects a certain naivete and lack of maturity. First, I would use an axe to smash the glass casing around the button and then type in the computer access code so that the button would work when I pushed it. One would hope that a candidate for President of the United States would understand that these kinds of things are necessary prior to just willy-nilly nuking a major nation.
OBAMA: Oh yeah?? Well you voted to start the Iraq War and I didn't! Besides, you didn't listen to the part where I said we try diplomacy first.
ME: Let's move on to another serious topic. Senator Dodd, the continent of Africa poses many of the daunting challenges facing the world in the 21st century, from the AIDS epidemic to third world poverty and Islamic fundamentalism and genocidal war. What do you propose the United States should do to address these problems?
DODD: Well that's a complicated question here and one which, in my experience here in the Senate for the last 30 some odd years here, I have pondered often. My time in the Peace Corps here in the 60s taught me that there is no simple solution to all of Africa's problems here. But in my judgement, we ought try, at least, to engage our allies and the African nations toward a consensus resolution on each of those issues...uh, wait a second, i think my average just dropped on that last sentence..."here here here here"....there, that's better.
ME: Senator Biden, you've served in the Senate for a considerable time as well, dealing with Africa and other foreign policy issues. What is your take on Africa?
BIDEN: Thanks, Harry, and while i have the chance i'd like to welcome my good friend Senator Mike Gravel sitting next to you. We really missed you up there on the stage tonight, buddy, and may I also say that you seem especially lucid and pleasant today.
ME: That's not Senator Gravel, that's Grampa Milo.
BIDEN: Look, I know what it's like to be an 8-year-old Senegalese peasant with all four limbs cut off by insurgent guerillas and then lose your job at the diamond mine because your entire family died from Ebola and no one's left to fetch your malaria medicine or attach your prosthetic leg so you can hop the commute down a long sniper-infested dirt road nicknamed "Genocide Boulevard" by the locals. I've been there before, believe me. So believe me when I tell you that I'm the only person in this group who knows I'm right about everything.
ME: I'm not sure I follow. Could you elaborate?
BIDEN: (with a squinting smile) No. (pregnant pause, then mild chuckling among others)
ME: Mmm-kay. Senator Edwards, I've heard from some of the other candidates on their foreign policy stances, but what I and everyone else who watches TV or reads newspapers wants to know is this: Why on earth would you spend $400 on a haircut and then turn around and let David Boniol be one of your key spokespeople? Did you SEE what that man had on tonight? what was with the plaid dress shirt? I mean really, appearance matters. How can you coordinate the entire federal government when you can't even coordinate your campaign manager's outfit?
EDWARDS: Well what I'd really rather talk about is bold transformational change in health care in this country. So that we can provide for those, who are sick, of this nation. It's wrong that we have people in this country, who have lived 50something years with Elephant Man's Disease because they didn't have the insur-
ME: -Yeah, Yeah, Yeah, we get it. Two Americas, transformational change, "Daddeh worked at the mee-ul in Narth Car-uh-lah-nuh", lobbyists are against meaningful reform, blablablabla. That still doesn't tell me why you spend a buttload on a haircut but then allow your manager to go on national TV wearing the same suit my Dad wore in our 1982 Olan Mills family photo.
Governor Richardson, since health care came up, what would you do about our biggest domestic problems?
RICHARDSON: I would use diplomacy. I would also make health care completely free to everybody AND lower taxes. My plan calls for full funding of preventive medical research, so that we can lower incidents of cancer, diabetes and other diseases. My plan also provides for free unlimited Krispy-Kremes and Marlboros for everybody at no extra cost to the taxpayer. When I'm president, we will lower the price of gas to a nickel a gallon and reduce our dependence on foreign oil. Then we will look around and notice that this also solved the global warming problem. In regard to crime, my plan would do two things: (1) build 1,000 new prisons, (2) hire 1,000,000 new cops, (3) completely repeal all criminal laws so that people can do whatever they want to do without being burdened by a lot of government bureaucrats telling them what to do. Also, every single taxpayer in the United States would get a pony. If it turns out I need a Plan B, i'll simply ask myself, "What Would Whizzer White Do?" (WWWWD?)
ME: Alright, last question to Congressman Kucinich. Despite your strong credentials as a left-of-center candidate on the issues, your candidacy doesn't seem to be gaining much traction. What are you doing to try and address that problem?
KUCINICH: Well one thing I'm learning in talking to you and others is that people might be influenced by appearances. Toward that end, I'm doing what I can to appear more presidential. For example, tonight, you might notice that I'm wearing my Dad's shirt. The cuffs dwarf my dainty elfin hands but just the same I believe the overall effect shows that I'm a big boy who's capable of being the boss of everybody. Also, I'm trying to appeal more to the common man. Have you SEEN my wife?? Oh, and I've got a new text message. We're scrapping the 'text peace' thing we did in the South Carolina debate. That was lame. I'm now urging voters to text "boob" at 8008. once again, that's text "boob" at 8008.
ME: Cool. Well, Grampa Milo is starting to doze, so I guess that's all our time. Thanks for participating, everybody.
Well, I hope you enjoyed that as much as Grampa Milo and I did. This is Harry and Milo Balczak signing off from the Windy City.
Posted by hbalczak at August 8, 2007 09:56 AM
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