Tuesday, January 27, 2004

Gutter ball!

And speaking of the average folks (last "rule" in the preceding post), Dave Barry is in NH and offers Senator who? We're trying to bowl here!!
There was an unusually exciting campaign event here Saturday night for Sen. John Edwards, who -- to refresh your memory -- is one of the ones with good hair.

The event -- which, in retrospect, probably could have used a little more planning -- was held at a bowling alley. The original idea was that Sen. Edwards himself would bowl. Having candidates do demeaning things that have nothing to do with their qualifications for being president is a key part of our election process. Another example is the pancake breakfast, where candidates must flip pancakes while being closely scrutinized by note-scribbling news media.

FACT: A veteran journalist told me that, of the Democratic candidates, Howard Dean is by far the best pancake flipper. The worst is Gen. Wesley Clark. ''He doesn't flip at all!'' the journalist told me, genuinely outraged. ``He just slides the pancakes around!''
But you should see Weasley fold tinfoil to make a beanie!
So anyway, when I arrived at the bowling alley, about 15 minutes before North Carolina's Sen. Edwards, trouble was brewing. It was like The Perfect Storm, with two powerful opposing forces on a deadly collision course:

• On the one hand, you had hundreds of people there to see the candidate, including a large, aggressive press corps that was not wearing appropriate bowling footwear.

• On the other hand, you had league bowlers, who were there to bowl, dammit.
Ruh oh! You can guess how that went:
A woman was shouting, ''WE'RE TRYING TO BOWL HERE!!'' A man brandishing a bowling ball was yelling at a TV cameraman: ''GET YOUR (very bad word) DIRTY SHOES OFF THE (even worse word) LANE!!'' A management person on the public-address system was announcing that the police and fire marshal had been called, and that the building had to be evacuated.

Into this festive scene surged Sen. Edwards, whose campaign theme is that he is going to bring America together. He stood on a platform and gave a speech, surrounded by a dense crowd of media and applauding supporters. About 25 feet away, outside the crowd, the bowlers offered their rebuttal. It was a weird kind of stereo: In one ear, I'd hear Sen. Edwards explaining how he would provide economic opportunity to all Americans; in the other ear, I'd hear: ``OUR WHOLE NIGHT IS RUINED! YOU DON'T GIVE A (bad word) ABOUT US!''
So Sen. Edwards did not attempt to bowl, which was fortunate, as he does not yet have Secret Service protection.

As the crowd dispersed, I overheard this exchange between an Edwards volunteer and a bowler:

Bowler: Go Bush. You guys suck.

Volunteer: You shouldn't generalize. We don't ALL suck.

Bowler: Yeah, you do.

That's what's so great about the primaries: people talking about issues.
Good clean fun was had by all.