Wednesday, May 2, 2012

THE RESURRECTION – an election year tale

To some, this may seem like the hazy ramblings of an old man recollecting the sanctified past, but I think it's high time the truth came out over the presidential election of 2018. I was a brash, young Turk fresh out of Harvard's School of Politics with one election under my belt and I experienced the whole thing ringside. And if you don't believe me, you can always look it up in the Congressional Record.

The election of 2004 was an odd one. It started going downhill in May of 2017 at the Poughkeepsie Democratic Caucus. It was the first time in the nation's history that there were more people selling hot dogs in a convention building than there were delegates. And the Republicans didn't fare any better. They couldn't even come up with the rent for the hall when they met in Iowa that summer for the country's first electoral grassroots planning session.

America in those days had turned cynically apathetic. And cynical apathy is the worst kind of apathy. Like they told us in politics school, people with cynical apathy don't contribute toward your re-election campaign. And that's as bad as it can get.

Things were sliding off the mountain fast. Everything pointed to an abysmal disaster for the election on December 12, the day after the World Series ended.

Me and a few of my Senate colleagues were down at Voltaire's, a nice eatery near the Capitol, talking strategy on how to bring the Soup Reduction Act to a full Senate vote. It was there that we got our first glimpse of Professor Moldrow Manx's restorative process. You know, we thought he was the house magician at first but it turned out he was trying to get the management to invest in his new method for freshening up old fish.

They had set up a small platform for him in the area where the restaurant's guest musicians played some nights. The professor had his lab equipment crackling away with static electricity just like in those old horror movies. He was intent on showing not only the owner but the customers as well how fresh a menu could really get. He made a short speech about magnetic fields, flipped a couple of switches, and then brought a full plate of lobsters back to life.

It was weird. One minute they were lying there, basking in lemon butter, and the next, they were out clopping their pincers and nipping the waiters.

And to show everyone that this wasn't a fluke, Professor Manx got some frog legs twitching and had a red snapper flopping all over a casserole dish. The guy could have leveled a sushi bar.

But we got to talking and thinking about it when it hit us like an ethics committee subpoena. This was our solution to the country's leadership problem.

If the professor's process could bring dead fish back to life then, certainly, it could bring a dead president back from the grave. Give the people what they want. This was it.

We grabbed the professor before he could leave and gave him our idea. He agreed it could be done but he'd have to build a larger apparatus. It would cost.

Right then and there I was volunteered by my buddies to bring the matter to the Senate's attention and to get the funding for this most noble of causes. I really didn't want to, not being on the science committee and all but, what the hay, it had to be done for the good of the country.

My speech the next day was a glorious one. I know I only brag when I say this, but it contained every florid noun, every patriotic adjective, every galloping verb that has ever existed in the context of political demagoguery. It was a rainbow of a speech and it's still replayed occasionally on late night C-SPAN. I was proud of it.

The effect it had was deluvial.

There arose from the ranks a marvelous gasp of surprise and delight. Senator after senator nodded and clapped and whistled in approval and amazement at this plum of a disclosure.

Senator Brainbottom was the first to speak.

"Let us bring back Roosevelt!" he cried.

"Three cheers for Teddy!" seconded Senator Moxfire.

"Not that Roosevelt," protested Senator Brainbottom. "Franklin Delano."

"What's wrong with Teddy?" asked Senator Moxfire.

"He was a Bull Moose," snorted Senator Brainbottom, offended at the thought.

"How dare you, sir," huffed Senator Moxfire. "Teddy wouldn't have put up with that kind of slander."

The applause and cheering continued over the exchange.

That is, until Senator Cyril Gratelock of Texas piped in, "Hey, wait a minute. Roosevelt was a Democrat. What about us Republicans? We should be heard, too."

Senator Gratelock was minority whip.

"Yeah, let's bring back Eisenhower," added Senator Ventmore.

"What about Truman? Can't we bring back Truman?" asked Senator Pinehassle. He was the senator from Missouri.

"What about Garfield? He never got to finish his term," said Senator Manglemoss.

"You people make me ashamed!" yelled Senator Dorechuck of Vermont. "What ever happened to that greatest patriot of all - George Washington."

"No, no, it's been too long," said Senator Stagestreet, shaking his head.

"But we could fix his teeth," said Senator Dorechuck. "It's the least we could do for him."

Well, things went on from there. It snowballed after awhile. Every president there was had his loyal, stubborn following. The only bright spot in all this is that we did manage to put up some of the money for Professor Manx's new machine although it was about 17 percent less than what he'd asked for.

As time passed, we were captured in a web of political machination, of infighting, of old favors being called in, of backs being stabbed, of feelings being snubbed. In other words, politics at its most professional.

Finally, by the end of the third week, after fending off an usurptive drive by the House of Representatives, it was decided that each party, Republican and Democrat, would have a president of their choice brought back and that they would run against each other. That was the easy part. The hard part was yet to come.

The floor of the Senate turned into a war zone of opinion. Intrigue fluttered in the air with such comments as

"The Montana coalition wants Lincoln. I say he's unelectable. I mean, good God, man, he looks like an unmade bed. Sure, sure, he freed the slaves but he'd never go over on TV and that's where this election is going to be decided."


"The UMW is lobbying hard. There's PAC money for FDR."


"What the devil's wrong with Coolidge? He was good for business. We'll find him a place to go fishing if we have to."

If you didn't get enough political calisthenics on the Senate floor, there was more to be had outside. Mobs milled about shouting, "We like Ike! We like Ike!" The Save MacArthur Foundation opposed Truman. Colorful kites flying overhead demanded that another historical figure be considered - Benjamin Franklin. On top of all that, I was getting mail from some group calling itself the Red Whig Brigade threatening to have me recalled if I didn't support Millard Fillmore. There was enough pressure on us to trigger an atomic bomb.

But at last, after what seemed like eons, a vote was scheduled.

There was an enormous feeling of energy in the Senate chamber that morning. Even the weather outside added to that sense of excitement for it was stormy and great peals of thunder shook the building. A few chosen speakers were given the floor to let loose a volley of oratory over our grave duties. Things were flowing steadily until Senator Bleat took to his feet.

"My fellow senators," he started out in his loud bass voice, "I've come here today to try and persuade you to do the right thing. Instead of ramrodding each party's choice down the ever-sore throats of the people, I say we have a national referendum on this issue and let them decide."

Instantly there was a woodpile of boos in protest of this suggestion. The senator tried to continue but was shouted down.

"We can't trust the people to bring back the right president," hooted one senator. "That's what they elected us for."

Another added, "You give them an inch and pretty soon they'll be expecting us to pay attention to them. Be gone, we've work to do."

Nothing that was shouted would stop Senator Bleat. Right before our eyes he launched a filibuster.

About then, my aide came dashing up to me and whispered, "The professor's outside. He says the machine is ready to go. He wants to know which cemetery we want him to go to."

And as if that wasn't enough, a messenger walked up to the Vice President who was presiding over this madhouse and handed him a note. He took one look at it and stopped all conversation in the room.

"I have just been given this communication," he boomed. "It is from the Supreme Court. It would be advised if you would pay attention. This is what it says, 'A president resuscitated through artificial means does not constitute life as we recognize it. Only a living president may hold office.' It is signed The Brethren."

That was it. The party was over. Back to the drawing board.

I was very depressed. I crawled out of there and got good and damn drunk that night. The next morning I woke with one doozy of a hangover. Serves me right, I suppose, for trying to play God and all.

That about ended the affair. Senator Dorechuck did somehow convince Congress to bring back Washington to fix his teeth. George got kind of ticked at that, though. Said he'd been having a nice dream and, what with the Supreme Court decision on him not being alive, he couldn't even sign a contract to buy a car. This reanimation thing was a real imposition on the dead.

As for me, I served for another ten years until an old college football knee injury flared up. It got so I couldn't run away from the angry mobs of taxpayers that stalked about D.C.'s shopping malls.

I've been away from Capitol Hill many years now. It all seems like a dream. Yet I still can't quite get out of my old gray head that one point in time, that shiniest of America's shining moments, and when I pause to think about it, a tear comes to my eye at the thought of who could have been.

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by © Clyde James Aragon
from "Full Frontal Stupidity" -
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