Dave Barry

Dave Barry: In New Hampshire, the moose are as cranky as Bernie Sanders

Dave Barry’s rental car enjoying the weather in New Hampshire.
Dave Barry’s rental car enjoying the weather in New Hampshire. Miami Herald staff

I drove here from Nashua in what I would conservatively estimate, as a South Florida resident, to be the worst blizzard to hit North America for the past 800 years. I was terrified. I am typing these words with my nose because I have been unable to release my grip on the rental-car steering wheel.

Somehow the snow didn’t seem to bother the New Hampshire people; they just drove calmly through it without hitting each other or sliding off the road. I was very impressed. In Miami, the drivers can’t handle rain. Their reaction is: “What’s this? Water falling from the SKY?? I had better take evasive action by swerving violently OH NO (BANG).”

Anyway, I made it to Manchester, where I spent an hour or so wandering around in the snowstorm trying, as a professional journalist, to gauge the mood of the New Hampshire voters, while at the same time keeping an eye out for moose. They have moose here in New Hampshire, and they are known to be cranky. The New Hampshire Fish and Game Department website section on moose safety states: “NEVER approach them or allow them to approach you. . . . Always keep a good distance from them and always have a good stout tree or your vehicle nearby.”

The way that’s worded, it sounds as if the Fish and Game Department is recommending that you should carry a good stout tree around with you, which seems impractical. Fortunately, I didn’t encounter any moose in Manchester. Unfortunately, I didn’t encounter any signs of political activity either, except for one young man trudging along holding a sign that said BERNIE.

As it happens, I saw Bernie Sanders in person later that evening at the big state Democratic Party fundraiser, which was held in the Verizon Arena. There were thousands of party activists there, about evenly divided between Sanders supporters and Hillary Clinton supporters. These two groups do NOT get along, and there was tension in the air. It was like the dramatic scene in West Side Story, where two archrival gangs, the Sharks and the Jets, go to a dance in the gym and the tension between them escalates until finally it explodes into a highly competitive mambo.

That’s what it felt like in the Verizon Arena, except that instead of a mambo, they had remarks by every human being, living or dead, who has ever been a dignitary in the New Hampshire Democratic Party. (“What a great night! I want to recognize 327 people by name!”) This went on for 14 hours, and then, finally, it was time for Bernie Sanders to speak. He opened with a hilarious two-minute anecdote about the time he accidentally put his pants in a microwave oven.

No, I’m kidding. Sanders does not do comedy. He does crankiness. If he were an animal, it would be a moose. His speech consisted of wagging his forefinger while listing everything he is angry about, which is pretty much everything. He thinks our economic system is totally unfair and we need to be more like Denmark. He believes everybody should get free healthcare, a free college education, free ice cream, etc. This would be expensive, of course, but under Sanders’ plan, the money would come from a source that has, for far too long, avoided paying its fair share of the tax burden: Denmark.

No, seriously, Sanders would take the money from Corrupt Wall Street Bankers and Greedy Corporations. This message has been resonating with Democratic voters, and it has forced Hillary Clinton to move farther and farther to the left, as evidenced by a recent town hall event where she showed up in a Che Guevara pantsuit. Also she’s been hurt by this pesky email “scandal” being pushed by right-wing extremist groups such as the FBI. All of this has the Democratic establishment, which is pro-Hillary, nervous, to the point where there is now talk of getting Joe Biden into the race, which would raise the average age of the Democratic field to 127.

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, everybody is still in favor of Leadership. I will continue monitoring this and let you know if anything changes.

UPDATE ON THE MOOSE MENACE: While I was writing this column, I received an email response from my friend P.J. O’Rourke, an expert political analyst who lives in New Hampshire. I had emailed him asking if there really are moose here, and if so, are they really dangerous. Here is his reply: “Yes! Lots of moose and they’re very dangerous — ahead of Rubio but still trailing Trump.”

That’s all for now. I need to find a good stout tree.

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