1988: A Mock Epic for Two Parties
"I can't believe I'm losing to this guy." Michael Dukakis to Diane Sawyer, 1988.
Election night and I turn on
Democracy on CNN.
Proclaim, O Muse, how it turned out
We ended up with such a rout.
Was sleaze this year inordinate
Or do our noses swim in stink?
So that we can't tell gold from brass
Or how George Bush could be so crass.
The Hero of my epic sung
Sing now, O Muse, the election dung
Flung by the forces of George Bush
At an unprepared Dukakis.
How Mike fought bravely at the end
But Bush just flung more dung at him.
The moral: To be president
You must throw back the excrement.
Not that Dukakis was innocent--
He threw his share of shit intent
To pour George Bush in such a mold
You'd think he weaned on wine and gold.
But Bush fought dirty--no doubt that.
The campaign turned from tit to tat
While issues shrank to short sound bites
Like Read my lips, Sam. No tax hikes.
Ms. Muse, however, must move on:
Sir George, in armor, shines at dawn.
A simple man, no knight was purer--
Sir George thought liberals all were ordure.
"My liberal opponent," he droned on,
"Wants killers in all our bedrooms.
He's not a macho man like me--
In fact, he sets these rapists free."
Then Sir George, on Boston Harbor
Wreaked his wrath with full-blown ardor.
Sir George screamed, "That dirty liberal's
Boston Harbor is a scum pool!"
(Good Sir George, of course, forgot
That his boss, Sir Ronald Rot,
Had a year or two before
Sunk the bill to clean our harbors.)
Mike Dukakis can't believe it!
He knows the public won't buy this shit!
So Dukakis kept declaiming
What Sir George called his "vision thing."
With his broad sword Sir George chopped
At Mike Dukakis--lop, lop, lop.
Disgorged Sir George at Sir Dukakis
"The ACLU is his mistress!"
Now, Muse sing of the other guy
Who with Sir George fought full of pride.
(Well, maybe "fought" is not the word--
Sir Quayle was better seen than heard.)
His full named was J. Danforth Quayle
And from the Hoosier State he hailed.
His folks were common publishers
Who owned successful newspapers.
The other party's VP void
Was filled by Bentsen (i.e. Lloyd).
Lloyd Bentsen was of humble birth
And unlike Quayle had earned his worth.
(Pardon, friend, the interruption,
But these knights will come to blows soon.
So that I'd better introduce them,
So you'll know when to cheer or boo 'em.)
The two VP's met on a stage
Where they continued to engage
On issues domestic and abroad
As over facts they rode roughshod.
(And yet by standards of today
Their debate by far outweighs
The sound bite orgy most agree
Lacks gravitas and is weak tea.)
But back into the thick of things!
The TV ads of Sir George sting.
While his opponent's ads are fluff
About nice guys and other stuff.
"Get rough, get tough," cry Michael's fans,
"And show George Bush that you're a man!
That you can shovel shit as well
As Sir George Bush and his man Quayle."
So Mike hit Bush with Noriega
"Over whom," quoth he, "Sir George went gaga.
When CIA Director George
With a drug-dealing tyrant forged
A friendship to suppress dissension
Among the Commies in his nation,
General Noriega grinned
As drug-thugs flew their profits in
And through his Isthmus Paradise--
All in the name of Enterprise."
John Q. Public watched TV
And heard this charged repeatedly
By Rather, Koppel, Jenkins, Stahl,
MacNeil and Lehrer, and Tom Brokaw.
John Public scratched his head to think
What "isthmus" meant, and had a drink.