Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Gutter Balls and Boiler Makers

In recent days the candidates vying for the nomination of the Democratic Party for president of these United States have been filmed and photographed engaged in activities very common in The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania: bowling and drinking. As a Pennsylvanian by birth I have been most moved by this ‘stooping to conquer’ the votes and loyalties of the citizens of this most worthy Keystone State. Should it be that I was an advisor to either of these campaigns I would urge each candidate to participate in a few other activities that would surely enhance their image in the hearts and minds of these fine people.
For instance, after bowling with the guys on league night Barack should stop into one of the private watering holes in one of the former steel or coal towns that dot the landscape. These are not country clubs; these are dark little bars where (as the bartender said to Clarence the Angel in ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’) ‘they serve hard liquor to guys who wanna get drunk!’ These fellas will not be wearing madras slacks and argyle sweaters talking about the condition of the sand traps. They will be cops, fireman, former steelworkers, teachers, bus drivers and electricians. I will take Barack as my guest and we can slide a stool up to the very smoky bar and order a shot and a beer for $1.00. This will be the first of many rounds – most of which will be purchased by the guys sitting next to us or by the bartender. In this environment Mr. Obama will hear, first-hand, what the people really think about him, Hillary, McCain, Bush and every other politician that ever lived: They are a bunch of sorry-ass sons-of-bitches. The only good news for Barack is that these folks will be mostly Democrats because few of them could secure a job without a union membership. About 2:30 AM we will eat a couple hard-boiled eggs floating in beet juice and maybe a few Slim Jims. No concerns about getting up for work in the morning because there are no jobs, thanks, in large part, to the unions.
The next day I would advise Hillary to get behind the wheel of a 1989 Ford Festiva, stop for $2.00 of gas (a half gallon) and head down to the unemployment line where she will be greeted with impatience and rudeness. This will be lovely and effective.
After Barack shakes off his hangover I will remind him to go to the post office to pick up his pension check from the Bethlehem Steel Company. Upon arriving at the post office I will tell him that I was just kidding about the pension check because Bethlehem Steel actually went bankrupt and 100,000 former employees and their beneficiaries were left with nothing. Should he bother to ask me how this could have possibly occurred I will say, ‘It was some poisonous brew concocted from equal amounts of cheap foreign competition, union demands, greedy management and government malfeasance. Thanks for asking.’ 
Following the unemployment visit I would guide Hillary to The Goodwill Shop to see if they have any cheap pantsuits to enhance her wardrobe.
At some point I would pile each of them into the Ford Festiva and drive up and down portions of Route 22 – maybe make them drive all the way across the state – counting potholes, detours, state highway workers and deteriorating roadside diners. I’m thinking a photo-op of the two of them changing the inevitable flat tire would be stunning. (Somewhere near Harrisburg I will coordinate circumstances so that Governor Ed Rendell is also in the picture using a jack.)
Come to think of it, now that Loud Mouth Ed is in tow it is appropriate that we make a stop at one of the new casinos built in his image. Let’s head back to the Lehigh Valley – to the Little Town of Bethlehem, in fact - and play some slots. This will show concern for the economy. If we time it just right we can get a few photos snapped before the whores and thugs wander into the frame.
Surely we should visit the Liberty Bell, grab a cheese steak at Pat’s and actually run up the steps of the art museum like Rocky Balboa. Off through the fields of Valley Forge we’ll go and then slip through Lancaster and on into Paradise. Out past the ghosts of Gettysburg and north we’ll gaze at Three Mile Island and then drop down into Johnstown. Heading west we will pass through Shanksville and travel the expanse of Pittsburgh’s mighty rivers sans those nasty old steel mills. If we listen closely we will hear the shouts of the Molly Maguires, the cries of the rebellious whiskey makers, the agony of the striking steel workers and the hymns of the Moravians. We’ll walk through the sanctuary doors of one of thousands of churches and cling to our Bibles and our Rosary beads. We’ll stand in the middle of 200,000 acres of wilderness and cling to our deer rifles. We’ll drink from a Dixie Cup, take notes with Crayola Crayons, jolt our energy with a Hershey Bar, clean and jerk a York barbell, pound a 6-pack of Yuenglings, explode some Peeps in a microwave, play with a Slinky, fly a kite with a key on the tail, visit the Jimmy Stewart Museum or tour ‘Fallingwater.’ 
Yes, there’s lots to do in Pennsylvania but, as our leaders know so well, we’re just too busy bowling and drinking to be bothered. 


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