Election day is nea…

Election day is near, and as we look back on this political season, what have we learned?
President Clinton has “character problems,” but we all knew that, and most of us either don’t understand the issues surrounding them or we don’t seem to care. We saw that it’s hard for Bob Dole to appear lovable, but we all knew that already too. Basically, as I look back on the campaigns, I just keep thinking, “Well, I found out Bob Dole takes Metamucil four times a day…” (Good thing he made such a big deal about releasing health records — we all really wanted to know that.)
Poor Bob Dole. It’s sad when you go from really disliking a candidate to just feeling sorry for him. First off, there’s the 15 percent tax cut he proposed. Did he think reporters and Democrats (although some would say a distinction there isn’t necessary), wouldn’t remember his standard joke, made during the Reagan years, that goes a little something like this:
“I’ve got some good news and some bad news. The good news is, a busload of supply-siders went over a cliff. The bad news is, there were three empty seats.” Turns out, we see now that one of those seats was his.
Then there was the Jack Kemp thing. Those darn Democrats also remembered that Kemp said of the old Dole that he never saw a tax he didn’t hike. Regardless of the truth of that statement, it makes the ticket seem a little off kilter. And of course, when Dole fell off that stage at a rally, it was just so unfortunate. America wasn’t laughing at him, but our pity probably hurt more. He tried to use it to his advantage in both debates, saying that before he hit the ground he got a call on his cell phone from a trial lawyer offering to file a lawsuit on his behalf — meaning we need legal reforms. But both times he flubbed the line and it fell flat. Makes you cringe.
If there were any real danger of Dole winning, I’d be the first to run out and vote for Clinton. But unless something extremely weird and out-of-left-field happens before Tuesday, Dole doesn’t have a chance. That means we can safely vote for Ralph Nader or other underdogs.
Some say casting a ballot for a third-party candidate is wasting a vote. Unfortunate as it is for those third-party candidates, there may be truth to that. I remember practically bawling when my mom told me in 1980 that she was voting for Barry Commoner of the Citizens’ Party. (“Don’t you know that’s like voting for Reagan? If Carter loses it’ll be your fault!”) But she said he was the only one she could really support and that she didn’t want to settle for the lesser of two evils. I appreciate that line of reasoning, but I still think a little pragmatism would have served us better.
Luckily this year, people who, if push came to shove, would support Clinton over Dole can go ahead and vote their conscience and support Nader or another third-party candidate. (Of course, if too many almost-Clinton-supporters do this, Dole could actually get the prize. Or, if no one gets at least 51 percent of the electoral vote, the decision would be left to the newly elected House of Representatives, and God only knows who’ll be running the House after the election. But those things won’t happen.)
Even though Nader, of the Green Party, won’t win, a good showing would mean a lot. If he can get 5 percent of the popular vote, he’ll be entitled to federal funds — about half of what major party candidates will get — in the next presidential election. If he were to garner at least 25 percent of the vote, the ticket would receive major party status and he’d get just as much federal money to run his campaign as the Democrats and Republicans will receive. (Since Nader doesn’t take PAC money, this windfall would come in handy.)
But, apologies to Dean Barkley, this line of thinking could be disastrous in the Minnesota senate contest — meaning Rudy Boschwitz might win. The race is pretty much neck and neck, and with the nasty attacks by the Republicans, who knows what could happen?
The Daily received a hilarious fax on Sunday from Chris Georgacas and the Republican Party of Minnesota.
“MOST RIDICULED NEWSPAPER IN COUNTRY’ ENDORSES MOST RIDICULOUSLY LIBERAL CANDIDATE IN THE NATION,” screamed the fax. “Star Tribune Endorses Welfare, Higher Taxes, Flag Burning and WELLSTONE.”
Gol, that’s funny. The editorial I read said Wellstone “is increasingly able to bring Minnesota’s views and values to bear on Washington decisionmaking. On a minimum wage increase, gifts to members of Congress, Medicaid funding, student financial aid, assistance to veterans, help for victims of mental illness and domestic abuse, Wellstone was on the right side and in the thick of things.”
Georgacas went on to say in the fax, “It comes as no surprise to me that the Star Tribune, which the New York Times called the most ridiculed newspaper in the country,’ endorsed the reelection of Wellstone.”
Well, this New York Times article he quoted actually said the Star Tribune “has a long tradition of solid journalism,” but lately “has also become perhaps the most ridiculed newspaper in the country, described by critics inside the paper and out as a headquarters of political correctness and New Age journalism jargon.” It’s not like the Times said the Star Tribune was crooked or untrustworthy. But what can you expect from a Republican talking head?
To be honest, I’m going to miss the campaigns and this kind of mudslinging — I really get a kick out of it. A good debate is obviously worth more, but for my money, there’s nothing like a ringside seat to a run for office for good entertainment. Oh, well, there’s always 1998 — maybe Allen Quist will run for governor again.
Kris Henry’s column appears every Thursday in the Daily