The Gush and Bore show!

Buchanan's Brigade finds a cause, McCain takes to the streets and Bush breaks it to us gently about abortion.

Published January 21, 2000 6:00PM (EST)

The taxing back-and-forth debate continued between the two top Republicans as the George W. Bush campaign called a conference call to discuss the differences
in the Bush and John McCain tax plans.

McCain immediately fired off a press release labeled "Read before Bush campaign conference call." As if to prove that this is not how elections are won, the Washington Post brings us an article on the Iowa wardmen responsible for the gritty door-to-door work of the campaign.

Now that an American town has sold out to the Internet,
California Assemblywoman Carole Migden has decided to push a bill advocating
the taxation of Internet
transactions for companies who have retail operations within her state. Migden says companies that have large online and brick-and-mortar operations gain an uncompetitive advantage over smaller local stores by not having to collect a sales tax. Is this the first salvo in tying down the Internet economy?

While politicians have been busy
prostrating themselves before tech companies,
few have yet to consider the related policy problems.
But McCain took the time to repeat his promise not to tax Internet
transactions; something he surely hopes will appeal to Silicon Valley. Bush has said that he, too, probably wouldn't tax Internet transactions for the next five years, but refuses to make McCain's long-term pledge.

The only person in this campaign who openly opposes tech industry handouts is Pat Buchanan. And his online Internet Brigade
found the perfect story to tee off on after a Berkeley, Calif., landlord named Lakireddy Bali Reddy was arrested for allegedly sexually molesting underage girls
that he had brought to this country. Police believe Reddy had molested many other girls he
had brought to this country using H-1B visas, which are supposed
to be six-year work permits for highly skilled workers.

The visas are a high priority of
Silicon Valley lobbyists because, they claim, companies need more highly skilled workers than the domestic labor
pool can provide. Labor unions and some conservatives argue vehemently against expanding the number of visas because,
they claim, Americans lose jobs to foreigners. Buchanan's Brigade is giving these opponents all the moral support it can: It's calling the program H-1B Hookers.

Meanwhile, the Brigade one-upped the Reform Party in protesting debate participation rules by proposing a boycott of products made by Anheuser-Busch, the primary debate sponsor. Later in the day, an updated mail asked
volunteers to catalog all the products that the group would need to boycott because "I went to the Anheuser-Busch
home page to get a list of their products for our boycott and found that they sure have diversified!" Grass roots at its best, a world
away from the Bush effort.

Meanwhile, McCain claims that he will march on the Russian consolate
in New York to protest the "Stalinist" tactics of the Bush campaign, which, he claims, is keeping him off of half
of New York's primary ballots. When asked if the march was a lark, McCain replied, "No, but it's fun. It's not a
lark. It's Pee-wee's great adventure."


To date abortion has barely surfaced as an issue in the Republican campaign. Wednesday, Bush tried to finesse the abortion issue,
saying that a female friend or relative who had been raped would have to make her own decision about having an abortion, but adding that he "would not be inclined to accept" government approval of RU-486, the so-called abortion pill.

It's hardly the pose taken by Steve Forbes, a newly minted social conservative, who has been touring Iowa loudly proclaiming his anti-abortion stance and drawing the praise of figures like Phyllis Schlafly. Forbes even called Bush a "pacifist" on pro-life issues. Could abortion be the issue that finally introduces the wimp factor?

"The Gush and Bore show!"

We'll have to wait a bit before this can be used as any sort of official title, but in the meantime, a note of appreciation goes out to Donald Trump.
That's what he coined the current race while saying why he was considering a run for the presidency, though he does say he's "deeply concerned" about the Reform Party's internal strife.

The 12th labor

Despite all the high-powered supporters like Ted Kennedy and President Clinton Al Gore still awaits the crown jewel of
Democratic endorsements: labor. So far, the unions are split on whether they'll endorse a candidate for the primaries.
The AFL-CIO has already endorsed Gore, but two other major unions, the UAW and Teamsters, have opted to wait for the conventions
before endorsing anyone. Both have been vehemently opposed to the Clinton administration's free trade policy and are probably
looking to generate a little political capital by waiting so long


This hasn't been Bill Bradley's week. The press has sounded a death knell and continues to pry into his
campaign's morale.
After a journalist's question Wednesday, Bradley said that he had four instances of irregular heartbeats in the past month.
The press absolutely swarmed.

But in a moving meeting in New Hampshire Wednesday tears came to Bradley's eyes
as a mother without health care told him that her child apologized for being sick and making his mother pay
for doctor's bills. An Associated Press report later quoted him as taking credit for the prominence of health care in the election debates.
Bradley claims health care is such a large issue today because he took "the risk of leadership" to put it on the map. Later
in the day he garnered the endorsement of Betty Freidan while old basketball foe Bill Russell and soon to be ex-Sen. Bob
Kerrey appeared on TV urging Iowans to vote for their man.

Help! I'm plagued by esotericism and I can't get up!

In a continuing series, The AP asked the candidates for their worst habits.
Gore and Forbes: junk food; Bush: impatience; McCain: coffee; Gary Bauer: staying up late; Orrin Hatch:
difficulty sleeping; Trump: overeating; Buchanan: esotericism. Bradley and Alan Keyes didn't answer.

By Max Garrone

Max Garrone is Salon's Vice President for Operations.

MORE FROM Max Garrone

Related Topics ------------------------------------------