Column #157 THE BIG MATCH: Bush versus Kerry!!!

May 1, 2004
Column 157
THE BIG MATCH: Bush versus Kerry!!!

“Political campaigns are decidedly made into emotional orgies
which endeavor to distract attention from the real issues involved, and actually paralyze what slight powers of celebration man can normally muster.”

– James Harvey Robinson

Game on!

– Russell Bray
________________________________________________________________

Thirty years ago I wrote a column for my college newspaper. My beat was politics. Nixon. McGovern. Watergate. Vietnam. What amazing times. What memories…

And damn, did I have a lot to say. Not about politics, mind you. Blimey NO! Mostly I wrote about getting wasted. And hot chicks. The more some things change the more others stay the same.

Just as politics was center stage then so it is again today. The names of the candidates have changed. The hot spots in the world have changed. But the issues are strangely similar. It’s weird.

The 1972 campaign was about choices. For example, as Pink Floyd spun the turntable late one night, one of the choices my roommates and I explored was: if you found yourself stranded for life on a deserted island what would your rather have — a dozen beautiful girls or an endless supply of killer weed? Yes, it was a damn difficult question.

But what would Nixon and McGovern have done? It’s by exploring such possibilities that voters come to really know the candidates.

Today we have Bush and Kerry. Times are again turbulent. The country is divided. Each and every one of us has a very important decision to make. We need to examine the candidates carefully. We need to arm ourselves so we can vote smart. I voted for Nixon. I admit it. I voted dumb. But I wouldn’t have if I thought he’d have picked the girls. That would have meant I couldn’t have ’em.

Voters everywhere (except in England where you can’t vote — until Bush bombs the hell out of you and makes you the 51st state) face a very serious choice.

To help YOU, the darter-voter, make the right choice, my friend, Ed Edwards (Hall of Fame member, current director of Tournament Darts International in Washington, D.C. and flaming liberal) and I have agreed to face-off in a sort of point-counter-point debate to explore the question that you simply must consider before deciding which lever to pull this November.

Of course, that burning question is: what if the next World Darts Championship does not come down to the usual suspects but rather, a face-off between Bush and Kerry — who would win? Exploring the strategy of the candidates, contemplating their strengths and weaknesses at the line, what mental games they and their handlers might employ and so much more will (Ed and I hope) help you to make the right choice this November.

So let’s get rollin’. Ed’s going to argue for Kerry and start first (even though he lost the cork). I won it for Bush but, like Phil Taylor, gave the first handful back to Ed — because I know I’m going to kick his ass anyway. Bush is The “American” Power. He’ll score fast and heavy. It’ll be Shock and Awe, baby.

IMPORANT DISCLAIMER: Both Ed and I are well aware of the long-standing rule that three subjects should never be discussed in a real man’s darts bar: 1) religion, 2) politics, and 3) the dream you had last night about your buddy’s wife. We apologize in advance for breaking all of these rules below.

ED: Hi folks. I’d like to give you some personal background like Paul but, as someone once said, “If you can remember the `60s, you weren’t there.” (Or was it the `70s? I dunno.) I do sort of remember flipping the bird to a Nixon motorcade on Executive Avenue one afternoon from my Kawasaki. The rest of that era is a bit of “purple haze” mixed with tear gas, compliments of Paul’s Nazi friends. How these guys can be proud of supporting felons, I don’t understand. Did you know that GW Bush is the first president to enter office with a criminal record? Drunken driving, Maine, 1976. Well, on with the show!

This is definitely going to be a tough match, Bush being ranked #1 and all. Of course he did become the top seed because his brother was the scorekeeper and his daddy appointed the caller for the last Championships. But that was 4 years ago, and since then the crowd has had an “up close and personal” chance to see him in action.

Although he still has a league match to get past, Kerry looks well on his way. He’s had to work his way up to the stage by besting nine opponents, but even the chick from Windy City and the brother from the old Knickerbocker league had better ppd averages than the junior Bush. John “Bring It On” Kerry is in great form. Still and all, it will be tough, Bush is pretty impressive in his flight suit with all the corporate logos on it. Those are his owners, oops, I mean sponsors.

The Kerry followers have confided in me that they really only have two concerns going into the championships: (1) the spinning dartboard that the Bush managers have insisted on (whenever GWB starts missing his target, his boys hit the spin button. Sometimes it’s after he’s thrown. Sometimes it’s while he’s throwing. Tough to keep track.) and, of course, (2) the new electronic scoring machines (built and serviced by one of Bush’s sponsors).

Like the rest of you I’ll be watching the match on cable because Bush’s security people have already advised me that I will not be allowed into the “big tent.” Evidently, to get close to Bush is either by free invitation or very, verry, verrry expensive. That’s all for now.

DARTOID: At the end of the day winning darts (just like this election) is about composure and having the strength under pressure to make the tough decisions and act on them. This is why under the limelight and in front of the crowd at Circus Tavern, Bush will expose Kerry as the 194-proof, phony, liberal elitist he is. If Kerry and his followers’ concerns are limited to “spinning dartboards” and “electronic scoring machines” my recommendation is that they stop smokin’ the ganja, get over Al Gore’s defeat and face reality. Neither the World Championship nor the White House is the place for the weak, indecisive or just plain wishy-washy. Of course, neither is the place for a liar either.

Whether one agrees with Bush on the issues or questions his integrity, it is flat-out impossible to doubt his commitment to what he believes. Just two days after the September 11 terrorist attacks Bush laid it on the line: “When I take action, I’m not going to fire a $2 million missile at a $10 empty tent and hit a camel in the butt. It’s going to be decisive.”

This is the kind of confident, sure-of-himself, combatant that will pick Kerry apart during the long format at Purfleet. This is a match that strongly favors someone who not only can hit the triple twenty, but who can be counted on to pound it when the chips are down. Athletic achievement is not something one can fake. The stopwatch doesn’t lie. You can either bench press a few hundred pounds or drop the bar on your throat. The dart’s either in the number or it ain’t. There’s no room for straddlers. You are watcha are.

Kerry’s gonna “take on the special interests” but he’s raked in over $600,000 from the health care, automotive and airline industries. He’s for the war; he’s against the war. He going to return America back to the “common man” — a segment of our society he claims to understand. Probably he does. He hobnobbed among us while attending Swiss boarding schools. He caroused with our women while sailing on John F. Kennedy’s yacht. He lives in an elegant Georgetown house with his half-billion-dollar-ketchup-tycoon-heiress wife and dashes off in her private jet to any number of family vacation homes. Yep, this guy understands me. I think I’ll give him a call and see if he’d like to meet me up at the Fox and Hound for a couple jars and watch NASCAR.

John Kerry is as phony as they come. Mark my words, Eddie, the pundits are smokin’ the wacky-weed too. Gore and Kevin Painter may have taken Bush and Taylor into sudden death last go-around but this time it’ll be a different story. Once Kerry’s under the microscope at Circus Tavern and the pressure’s on — as the election draws closer — composure will make the difference. Bush will hit hard, close big and drop the bar on Kerry’s throat. I figure straight sets.

ED: Well Paul, I must admit, the idea of Bush in the winner’s circle does fill me with “shock and awe.” I remain un-intimidated however, because I have no doubt that he is incapable of hitting the double out. I base that on his record.

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even know what the double out is. As a matter of fact, he seems to be aware of only 2 numbers: a “lot” (what he wants to transfer to the uber-rich and mega-corps) and a “little” (what he actually wants to spend on first-line defenders like police, fire and medical personnel so they can realistically do what he has proposed that they do.) Uh oh, my bad… there is another number: “none.” That is what he would like to allot for the less fortunate. After all, every time he has gotten into a bind (which has been quite frequent) someone has come along to bail him out. Hence the reliance on “faith-based” assistance.

It’s always worked for him, so it should work for everyone else. On close inspection, a trust in divine intervention appears to be what prompts him to throw those darts in any willy-nilly direction with absolute certainty they will hit the board. Rape the land, pillage the waters, sack the national coffers. It will be okay because a higher power (daddy?) will intercede and make it better.

Put your money on the champagne-battalion, low-C, cheerleader, Paul. I’ll go with the real Bronze Star, Silver Star, and three Purple Heart veteran.

DARTOID: Correct o’mundo you are, Eduardo. Kerry wore some medals. You can wear ’em to. All you have to do is dive into the Reflecting Pool and fish them out from where he tossed ’em. Not that a chest-full of medals is gonna make a difference at the line…

I have to admit though (all political posturing aside) you have given me some pause for thought. That is — you, former Bush-insiders Paul O’Neill and Richard Clarke (bet you never thought you’d see your name in the same sentence as these guys), the unrelenting network news and my wife (like you, she’s a wild and crazy liberal who used to march on nuclear power plants).

Right now, I’m not sure how anybody could vote for either of these guys.

As convinced as I was (and remain) when we first started this exchange that Bush would whoop Kerry in a hypothetical darts match, it’s startin’ to feel like “deja vu all over again” on the electoral front.

Honestly. It’s downright freaky. Kids comin’ home in caskets. Citizens marchin’ in the streets. Congressional investigations. Insiders — people who should know — linin’ up, one after the other, calling Bush another Tricky Dick…

Just like you, I was inside the beltway when Watergate broke. As a student intern for a Republican on the Hill, I sure as hell wasn’t flippin’ the bird at Nixon motorcades, at least not until the whole thing unraveled. Then I was flippin the bird in the mirror for believin’ in the man.

And it didn’t unravel, as events seem to be this time around, until well after the 1972 election was over and done. What so many loyalists simply couldn’t believe was true in the summer of ’72 turned out to be far worse than anybody’s imagination. I don’t know where this is all headin’ now, but something’s terribly wrong. Even the most hard-core Republicans have to be nervous.

As to the World Darts Championship I’m still puttin’ my money on the President. Assumin’ he’s not sharin’ a cell with Martha Stewart by the time Ladbrokes rolls around, I’m convinced he’s got the arrows to send Kerry packin’.

This is gonna be a serious steel-tip battle. Bounce-outs that count in the electronic game ain’t gonna mean diddly — so even if Bush does turn out to be a prevaricator there will be no advantage or disadvantage in it at the line. Bush doesn’t need to “know what a double-out” is — he’ll throw at whatever makes sense to him and he’ll nail it. Need a missile to wipe out the other kid’s little league coach? Want to invade Toronto? Bush played baseball, for Christsake. You aren’t gonna see him skiing down some slope in girly-boy designer duds. He owned a frickin’ baseball team! He knows (well, at least he used to know) how to suck down a couple of six-packs.

Moreover, Bush not only acts like a darter he talks like one. “I want the folks to see me,” Bush once said, “sitting in the same kind of seat they’re sitting in, eating the same popcorn, peeing in the same urinal.” Like Jimmy Carter (and even Kerry, I suppose, who once dated Morgan Fairchild and Catherine Oxenberg) he probably even “lusts in his heart.”

Right or wrong on the issues, Bush is a committed, get-things-done, regular kinda guy. He’s a darts kinda quy. Straight sets I say, old boy. Straight sets.

ED: So, Paul, is that another gay bashing thing? Sorry, I couldn’t resist.

Since you were in Washington at the time, you might remember that the Vietnam Vets Against the War was a huge boost. I was at the first welcoming demonstration and later when they brought in the cast of Hair for a concert. Being reminded of it now, I vaguely remember hearing Kerry speak. Awesome times. The movement had spread from college kids who were deferred, to blue collar kids who didn’t want to go, to the parents of the college kids who were getting arrested, to the parents of kids who were coming home in bags, and finally the Vets, themselves. “Tin soldiers and Nixon coming, we’re finally on our own…”.

Jr.’s sure got the flash (I’ll grant you that) and someone in his corner knows how to work the spectators (I’ll give you that too), but I think it’s going to take more. The latest thing I heard was that your boy wants to limit the number of times these guys will actually go mano a mano. Sounds like a lack of stamina to me. Or guts. Or an inability to plan ahead, which seems to be one of his weaker points.

Theme music, smoke effects and wardrobe-supplied flight suits generate pre-match excitement, but don’t forget the quiet guys from the past — like Jerry Umberger and Jocky Wilson — who’ve shown they can talk soft but carry a big dart. They wouldn’t let someone bluff and connive his way into a win. And neither will Kerry.

GWB can’t put a 3-dart combination together any better than he can put 3 syllables together. I predict when the going gets tough Bush will get so tangled in the puppet strings that he’ll put all three in his foot.

So Paul, I think you and I have marked our positions fairly well on how the upcoming match will play out but. Before we close, however, I have another perspective to examine that might add to the commentary. I’ll just bet Bush’s last doubles partner, Tony Blair, is having second thoughts on the brilliance of that pairing. I wonder if, late at night, he doesn’t hear, in Spanish of course, “They took us for a ride.”

DARTOID: I agree, Ed. Just like a dog pees on a tree, you’ve marked Kerry’s position quite admirably. Sorry, but to quote you: I couldn’t resist!

I also think you have an excellent point. Kerry says foreign leaders support him. If you and I are to serve our objective here (what was that again?) we simply must solicit another perspective — the steady, unbiased, view of someone who is not an American citizen, truly understands darts, knows what it takes to compete and win on the world darts stage AND who (preferably) has a close, personal relationship with Tony Blair. Who might this be, you ask?

Why, but of course: three-time world champion and darts legend, John Lowe!

I tracked him down on his mobile. As British persons are known to do, he was walkin’ the moors somewhere, sippin’ Earl Grey and muchin’ on a cucumber sandwich…

We’re down to the wire, John. We’re on the stage. Ladbrokes, baby. You’ve heard of that, right? Bush versus Kerry. So what say you, ‘O British One? Can you help us wrap this sucker up?

Please try to use “proper” English.

JOHN: Let’s get one thing straight from the off: the only walking Lowey does is up and down the Oche, and maybe the odd few miles on the tread machine. At least that way you finish where you start. And the only Earl I know is Spensor. Had the privilege of meeting his daughter one day. Yes, that one: Lady Di. That would have been some book to find yourself in, no such luck.

Bush v Kerry. In British terms that’s like David Blunket v Mark Thatcher. The first knows were he’s going but cannot see it; the second can see were he’s going but doesn’t know how to get there. Blunket is blind but speaks a great vision (if the truth is known his dog is a ventriloquist). Thatcher, the son of the Great One, is a rally driver of note. The problem is he just cannot read a map: he was once lost in the Sahara desert for five days. Both, just like Bush and Kerry, qualify for the championship. They have that one vital ingredient to play the game of numbers: they are full of BULL.

Politics is just like darts and sex. You need a good start. In George’s case he has September 11, a good performance in the middle (Afghanistan and Iraqi) and a quick get out (that’s plan “B” should he lose).

Kerry, well he just needs a start. Any start will do.

THE BIG MATCH

– Venue: Circus Tavern. Purfleet. London. Date: Election Day — November 2, 2004.
– Format: One leg of 501
– Chalkers: Loyal supporters — Prime Minister Tony Blair & Spanish President Jose Maria Aznar
– MC/Caller: Osama Bin Laden

MC Osama throws the dinar in the air. Bush runs behind the curtain muttering “shit.” Kerry stands firm, medals glistening in the stage lights.

Bush calls correct and wins the chance to cork first but true to form throws the advantage away, missing by a country. Kerry scores dead centre and takes his stance at the electrified Oche. He knows one centimeter over the line and he will be lit for all to see.

Kerry handles the spinning dart board well-worth 140. Bush, the first man to enter office with a criminal record, a worthwhile maximum: 180!

Kerry scores heavily again after revealing his persuasion, a liberal elitist 100. Bush has a dart bounce out — his security have not checked the finer points — disaster: 25.

Kerry purposely toes the electric Oche. His hair turns white, his medals light up, he’s on fire: 100. Bush calls on the big guns, misses the empty tent and hits the camel, a.k.a. Al-Quida:140.

Kerry, his fondness of Ketchup, constant name dropping and affection for the ladies, puts him right up there with the champion of power, the Happy Scottish Groper: 100. Bush gets confused, doesn’t know the difference between: a “lot” (100) and a “little” (3), begins to show nerves and only scores: 45.

Kerry now only needs 61 to win and take his place in the biggest nuclear target in the world. He coolly throws his first dart in the fat 11 leaving the centre bull, the cork, for victory. But what’s he doing! Kerry puts his darts on the table and calmly takes a drink of the holy water.

He’s addressing the markers, telling them how good it is to see them here, how they will be welcome to his new White House home. Blair is nodding and saying “thank you, thank you, thank you.” Aznar is shaking his head: “I’m on the heap after this; your mate over there has seen to that.”

Osama steps in and reminds the challenger he only has 30 seconds to return to the Oche. Kerry takes his stance, but his back is to the board. He pulls out a mirror, straightens his hair and calmly throws the dart over his shoulder. Thud! The dart hits the centre bull.

Osama calls “Game, set and match” and holds Kerry’s arm aloft, at the same time whispering in his ear: “Now he’s gone maybe we can be friends; we could meet with Tony at Gadaffi’s place.” He then turns to George who is standing on the electronic Oche (that way he does not have to force a smile, unlucky): “You lost the plot, I mean the match.”

The smoke machine comes on and the stage is engulfed. After a few minutes the smoke clears to reveal a lonely figure. It is Tony Blair, standing alone, looking out to the now empty arena. His words continue to echo ‘round the great Tavern, “thank you, thank you, thank you…”

The Bush v Kerry match is over, or is it?

The press has just announced a re-match. Bush accuses Kerry of breaking the advertising standards rules — he had “Heinz Ketchup” written on the barrels. The re-match will take place in Florida.

Kerry agrees on condition: the new markers will be French President Jacques Chirac and Russian President Vladimir Putin. The MC will be Kofi Anon.

There gentlemen: I rest the case for Bush v Kerry. Let the BULL continue.

DARTOID: Kerry wins? Impossible!

ED: Hey, it’s your column, mate. It wasn’t me who called in an independent observer. You made the bed, buddy. Toss and turn in it.

DARTOID: Obviously John Lowe knows about as much about darts as you know about politics!!!

ED: Well, how about that, Paul. Finally, we agree on something!

From the Field,

Dartoid

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Dartoid
Author of the column that since 1995 has been featured by Bull’s Eye News, the American Darts Organization’s (ADO) Double Eagle and numerous other darts publications and websites around the globe.

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