Mildly attending to the shenanigans of the so-called major candidates

I'm the innocent bystander
Somehow I got stuck
Between the rock and the hard place
And I'm down on my luck…

-from "Lawyers, Guns and Money" by Warren Zevon

It's been years since I have been able to muster up much enthusiasm for any political candidate in this country. This did not result in what would be an understandable apathy as I have voted in every congressional and presidential election since the fateful year of 1968, though I have more often not voted for the top or the head of the ticket. When I lived in Massachusetts' 4th congressional district I was proud to cast my ballot every two years for Barney Frank.

As the Republic slouches toward another Presidential election personally, currently I am more interested in who wins the Booker Prize. I have found myself mildly attending to the shenanigans of the so-called major candidates. Because of my disavowal of television as being vital to my civic responsibility, I have spent some time on the Internet inspecting and grousing about the representations of America's Eleven. For what it's worth:

Dr. Howard Dean -- The slogan, "Dean for America," is clever. The requisite all-American color motif (red white and blue) with hints of Old Glory. Dean is open shirted looking off into the distance, no doubt at the radiant future he sees accompanying his election. The Dean site is given credit for having the first web blog, though a quick look left me unimpressed. I do like the Italian Futurist drawing used in the fund-raising initiative. There are Spanish-language features. Here's Howard Dean on national security: "Bajo el gobierno de George W. Bush, esta nación se ha perdido en el camino. No sólo estamos menos seguros, tanto en nuestra tierra como en el extranjero, sino que aun hemos disipado nuestro rol como fuente de inspiración y guía para otras naciones. Yo busco el devolver a los Estados Unidos el lugar que le corresponde en el mundo y su liderazgo moral en los asuntos internacionales." Or if you will, "Under George W. Bush, this nation has lost its way. Not only are we less secure at home and abroad, we have squandered our role as the inspiration and guiding light for other peoples. I seek to restore America’s rightful place in the world and its moral leadership in world affairs."

Massachusetts Senator John Kerry -- The headline "Hammer Bush out of the White House" is the boldest statement I can recall from a candidate who rivals Al Gore in his roboticism. It does have a certain ring to it, and the hammer cursor is a cute touch. But the visual of Kerry reading "My Friend Rabbit" to a group of kids is beat. So is his slogan, "The Courage to Do What's Right." I am wondering why the announcement that the new Kerry website is also in Spanish is in both English and Spanish.

President George W Bush -- No surprises except maybe the photo of Dick Cheney smiling. And there is the You can buy George Bush stuff there. And, not to belabor the obvious, there is a lot of blah blah blah here.

President George W Bush -- Okay, so this is the parody “official site” and the site about which President Bush opined, "There ought to be limits to freedom!" Here's one headline, "President Bush's Even-Tempered Response to Egregiously Slanderous Iraq Criticism from Senator Ted ‘Pinko Hooker Murderer’ Kennedy." Showing pictures of Bush picking his nose may be a low blow. He wasn't President at the time: "Priceless footage of W publicly picking his nose -- right from ESPN coverage of a Rangers game when W was part-owner." This site as no Spanish-language component.

Republican National Committee -- Predictable stuff except for the RNC monthly newsletter entitled "Rising Tide." That's a good title, dammit. And the Spanish-language site is serious and comprehensive.

Democratic National Committee -- Okay, they have a weblog called "Kicking Ass." They have the Spanish thing going too.

You Decide -- Here's Bill Feldspar on his creation, "Welcome to the ‘George W. Bush or Chimpanzee’ webpage. This is a little project I decided to start once I realized how much George W. Bush looks like a chimpanzee. I'm not a member of any political party, and I have nothing in particular against the man. I just think he kind of looks like a chimpanzee."

Draft Jim Traficant, Democrat President 2004 -- Former congressman "Jim Traficant is in prison so are you" is currently serving an eight-year prison bit on federal bribery, racketeering, tax evasion and other corruption charges. It's a great country, isn't it?

Guide to the 2004 Democratic Presidential Candidates -- Useful because it has a list of at least 31 other candidates running for the Democratic nomination.

Connecticut Senator Joseph Lieberman -- Joe? And then there is Joe's Jobs Tour. What that? There's more, "Joe Lieberman's manufacturing recovery plan will help transform today's producers into the factories of the future, make worker training more affordable and accessible, and level the global playing field by cracking down on unfair trade practices while continuing to open new markets."

Reverend Al Sharpton -- Just a hint of an American flag. Brown, green and black are the motif There's no Spanish iteration, but there is the Rev's 10 point program:

1. Raise issues that would otherwise be overlooked—for example, affirmative action, anti-death penalty policy, African and Caribbean policy. 2. Fulfill American democracy by supporting voting rights or statehood for the 600,000 disenfranchised citizens of the District of Columbia. 3. Increase political consciousness and awareness. 4. Declare the RIGHT TO VOTE A HUMAN RIGHT and supporting H.J. Res. 28, a constitutional amendment. 5. Stimulate more people to get involved in the political process. 6. Declare EDUCATION A HUMAN RIGHT and supporting H.J. Res. 29, a constitutional amendment. 7. Increase voter registration. 8. Declare HEALTH CARE A HUMAN RIGHT and supporting H.J. Res. 30, a constitutional amendment 9. Strengthen our REAL national security by fighting for human rights, the rule of law, and economic justice at home and abroad. 10. Rejuvenate the idea of putting AN EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT FOR WOMEN (ERA) in the Constitution and supporting H.J. Res. 31, a constitutional amendment.

Dennis Kucinich -- The currently unemployed former mayor of Cleveland lays claim to being the "Progressive Choice": "I am the only candidate who will take this country away from fear and war and tax giveaways, and use America's peace dividend for guaranteed health care for all, ending health care for profit." There are images of Martin Luther King and JFK, a picture of Willie Nelson in a Kucinich for President t-shirt and Ani DiFranco is a pal. Studs Terkel anoints Dennis "the one," and this site unabashedly (and perhaps disingenuously) entitles his story "Power to the People."

Former Ambassador (New Zealand) Carol Moseley Braun -- Lots of the usual red white and blue. Ambassador Moseley Braun has a great smile and the whitest teeth on the campaign trail. No Spanish-language section. Que pasa?

Florida Senator Bob Graham -- The usual campaign visual motif with a picture of Graham and, we assume, Mrs. Graham and three tots (Who they?). Also, Jim Buffet is a fundraiser for the Senator. There is Spanish and this site has the weblog thing going, but the disclaimer "The following comments are from our visitors, and are not endorsed by Bob Graham for President" puts the kaboosh on verisimilitude. It must have been the people from legal.

North Carolina Senator John Edwards -- What does Edwards get for announcing his candidacy on the "Daily Show"? Really. I don't know. Tell me. Anyway, the site is concerned with—as it announces—accessibility but has no Spanish version, which is a dumb move. There is a weblog: "Welcome to my campaign's official Blog! I'm new to this whole thing, but it's very exciting, and I thank you all for helping make this a community for us all to talk. You know the past few weeks have been very exciting for the campaign. I've continued to meet with people all over the country and am very encouraged by people's show of support."

Missouri Congressman Richard "Dick" Gephardt -- Gephardt, whose father was a milk truck driver and a proud member of the Teamster's Union, goes right after Howard Dean's online fundraising ability with a pop up ad. And this web site has this oddly original effort—who knows, maybe Dick rocks or be down with the funky beat—"Submit your own Gephardt music.” Dick Gephardt released "Gephardt Remix," an important musical addition to a Democratic nomination fight. Gephardt, who will be honored at grassroots house parties across America on September 30, 2003, also invited others to send their own musical entries. Qualifying songs will be added to the Gephardt House Party website. "Gephardt Remix" was made by Mike Gustafson of Fort Dodge, Iowa. If you would like to send your entry, simply email a short 1-2 minute original song

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