Dave Barry

The no-issues candidate


(This Dave Barry column was originally published Sunday, October 22, 1995.)

Several months ago I announced that I was willing to run for president of the United States and shoulder the immense crushing burden of accepting your cash contributions. Today I wish to reveal, in specific detail, exactly where I stand on the issues. Ready? Here goes:

I agree with Colin Powell.

I say this because, according to the polls, the American public is crazy nuts in love with Colin Powell, despite the fact that the average voter has no clue what he thinks about anything. Consider your own personal self. I bet you have positive feelings toward Colin Powell, but have you actually read his book? I didn't think so. Perhaps it would surprise you to learn that, on page 23, the following statement appears:

"Everything was fine until 1953, when I was kidnapped by telepathic clams from another dimension."

And consider this statement, on page 159:

"One thing I definitely believe is, everybody should have sex with vegetables."

Is that the kind of person you want as your president? Me too! Unfortunately, I made these quotations up. But my point is that the voters have no idea what views Colin holds, and this is exactly why they like him. He doesn't bore them by droning  away about the issues. Voters hate issues; that's why they hardly ever vote. That's why all these other presidential contenders, with all their positions on this and their six-point programs on that, are having so much trouble getting anybody to pay attention to them. Look what happened to Pete Wilson of California, who sings the really high part in Help Me Rhonda.

No, wait, that's Brian Wilson of California. Pete Wilson is the governor, and he wanted to be president, and he kept scheduling these major public events wherein he announced his candidacy; he'd give his Big Policy Speech, and then he'd and wait  for the groundswell of popular support, and . . . and nothing happened. So Pete had to announce his candidacy again. He announced it about 37 times. He was getting desperate for venues. It reached the point

where he was appearing at birthday parties for preschool children, where he'd announce his candidacy, explain his policies, and make animal balloons. Finally Pete gave up and dropped out, although you parents planning preschool parties can probably still get Lamar Alexander.

You don't see Colin Powell and me stooping to that level. You see us staying up above the fray, acting statespersonlike, weighing our options, maintaining our dignity and gratefully handing out Cabinet posts in exchange for cash contributions. Or at least I am. Colin has not reached that level of statespersonship yet. So if you were planning to send a contribution to him, just to be on the safe side you'd better send it to me instead, and if he gets into the race I'll make sure he receives every single penny that is left over at that point.

At the risk of sounding as though I am taking a position on an issue, I do want to say one thing: I am in favor of the elderly. You hear a lot of talk these days about how the government cannot afford to keep giving more and more billions of dollars in Medicare and Social Security benefits to the elderly, especially to the wealthy, golf-playing, boat-owning, Lincoln-driving,mansion-dwelling, servant-lashing elderly. Well, here's what I say: I personally am well on my way to elderlyhood, and if I'm going to suffer from joint pain, gum disease, vision loss, irregularity, bladder malfunction,

prostate disorders, hemorrhoidal swelling and an inexplicable fondness for Murder, She Wrote, then by gosh I WANT MONEY FROM THE GOVERNMENT.

At this point you're saying: "But Dave, the federal government is already  running a horrendous deficit! Where's the money going to come from?"

Simple: We'll raise income taxes.

WAIT! COME BACK! I don't mean we'll raise income taxes on us. My plan is to raise income taxes on people in foreign countries.

Why would they pay? I can answer that question with three words: "Internal Revenue Service." You know those incomprehensible letters that you sometimes get from the IRS, saying that you owe them money? And you know how you always pay the money, even if you have no idea why, because you're afraid that otherwise you'll be summoned to an audit and locked in a room with a beady-eyed, totally hairless IRS agent who will demand to see every financial document you have ever possessed, including losing Lotto tickets?

Well, why wouldn't that same fund-raising technique work on residents of other nations? We have the scariest IRS in the world, darn it, and I say we use it! We could have the IRS send incomprehensible tax-due letters to everybody in, say, France, and then we'd just sit back and watch the money pour in. If any French persons balked at paying, we would send an Air Force bomber over there, open the doors, and drop: an auditor. Just the sight of him, swinging from his parachute, holding his briefcase in one hand and his147-volume set of the Simplified U.S. Tax Code in the other, should be enough to ensure total compliance. We would not necessarily even need the parachute.

That's where I stand on the issue of giving more money to the elderly without anybody you know having to pay for it, and I'm sure that I speak for Colin Powell when I say, "Speaking of money, for ease of bookkeeping, we prefer a larger denomination of bill." Thank you, America, for being you.

© Dave Barry

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