Why won't DUMB work for Bush?

Dubya strategists puzzled as campaign launch fizzles.


Joyce McGreevy
April 19, 2004 11:30PM (UTC)

The Delegation of Unlikely Mascots for Bush (DUMB), founded to launch a campaign "to elect our country's greatest court-appointed president to the oval ranch," failed to attract the high turnout or donations anticipated by organizers, it was reported Sunday.

The daring plan to mobilize, and tap into the remaining resources of George W. Bush's least likely supporters by asking "very, very nicely" that they act against their economic interests seemed like a no-brainer, insisted campaign intern Shirley Eujest. DUMB organizers had fully expected to bring together "massive numbers" of unemployed, students, seniors, veterans, educators, the working poor, the middle class, part-time workers, people who read, and anyone else who is, or who has ever been, in possession of a clue.

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But curiously, the only people who joined the DUMB campaign Sunday were Whitey Beltwell, proprietor of the First Church of Mel's Mass Merchandising and Media Censure; Bitsy Dim, a well-dressed "Sacher Torte Mom" who enjoys bridge, fashion and collecting foreclosures, half a dozen captains, archdukes, and pirate kings of industry; and a couple of people who had just fallen off a turnip truck after being born yesterday.

"Frankly, I'm baffled," said chief organizer Frank Lee Baffold, who had predicted that "unlikely supporters" were the best hope to carry the election for Bush. Previously, Baffold served as the forecaster in charge of producing optimistic jobs growth figures for the Bush administration. "I was the first expert to predict that the president would add 4 million jobs to the economy." While critics point out that actual job growth has been "negative 3 million," Baffold says that his number has greater inspirational value.

"Unemployed people still come up to me in dark alleys and say it's people like me who briefly gave them hope. Wow. Then they kick my ass. But I'm proud to say that they also promise to vote. Well, I assume for Bush. Who else?"

Baffold is also the author of the bestselling fantasies, "I'm Sure He Means Well, Always Assume the Best," and "That's Just a Reality, Dave: The President Gives Candid Answers to Nosy Questions About His Handling of Iraq." These charming fictions are available as a boxed set for only $5 trillion.

At a press conference, Baffold was asked repeatedly what, if anything, he was thinking. He explained that the DUMB idea was the culmination of his life's work.

"Some of us noticed that the president was having a tough time trying to stay on vacation, what with all the interruptions. He's had to give not one, but two press conferences in only nine months! So I was gratified when the media published pictures of the president working on his property. Clearly, someone who's busy clearing shrubbery and swatting flies hasn't got time to deal with people's issues. To my delight, folks really understood. You should see the letters they sent, all vowing to 'help clear away the shrub.'"

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"That's when I thought, why not ask these nice people to stump for the president? Take the unemployed. They're actually looking for something to do, they're conveniently located all over the country, and there's millions of 'em. Hello? If we could just get the unemployed to start saying something positive about the Bush economy, they could really help us win this thing."

But Baffold bristled abruptly when a British broadcaster broached the brewing breakaway by browned-off Republicans. Sibyl Babble, host of the popular BBC Radio Four program, "Bit of a Bother," asked, "Would the right honorable idiot please tell us how the president per se intends to retain the vote of fiscal conservatives with a government deficit approaching $300 billion?"

"I am not honorable! And stop calling me Percy," retorted Baffold, who pointed out that as honor and integrity had now been restored to the White House and privatized for outsourcing, any public use of them represented a violation of trademark. He then offered "incontrovertible proof" that the president was still a fiscal conservative. "The man hasn't spent one penny of his $170 million campaign fund on his numerous economic policy visits. These are all taxpayer-supported events, and neither the president nor his true constituents will be hurt by that in any way."

Those who have been hurt by the economy, said Baffold, should just buy a new bill of goods. "Yes, last year was the worst year for wage growth in five years. But look on the bright side -- wages were better then than they will be in 2004! The good news is, there probably won't be that many new jobs, anyway. So a $35,000 job that previously paid $43,000 will still be a coveted item. And while the cost of clothing and other consumer goods shot up in March, triggering fears of runaway inflation or higher interest rates, as long as you own a bank you'll be fine. Or, OK, maybe the bank owns you. If people just enjoy the symmetry of that, DUMB will prevail."

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The key, says Baffold, is convincing potential supporters to be more stereotypical, less proactive. "We expected broader support from seniors. But you give 'em a Medicare card with a 10 percent discount and they complain if the price of drugs goes up 30 percent. Whatever happened to, 'Oh, whatever you nice boys decide is fine with us'? We need to remind seniors that we're protecting them from scary Canadian medicines that could impair their enjoyment of 'The Rockford Files' reruns."

Recruiting students also poses a challenge, says Baffold. "We do hear the occasional immature outburst, like 'Dude, where's my Pell grant?' and "I just earned this Summa Cum Laude and I can't do a thing with it.' What we want students to get is that thanks to the Bush economy, children now have a big fat incentive to realize the American dream."

Asked if he meant the $35,000 birth tax -- the personal share of the deficit that every child born into the world will have to pay off over the course of a lifetime, Baffold responded, "We prefer to think of it as the Help America Learn to Earn program." He also points out that students who campaign for Bush will have the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that "just because you go to school doesn't mean you're a know-it-all."

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Still, Baffold admits that so far the most effective campaigners for Bush have been, for some reason, people whose annual incomes exceed $1 million a year, and whose average tax cut for 2004 will be $123,600 each.

"These people are the salt of the earth," enthuses Baffold. "You ask them for $2,000 and they just peel it off and say, 'Bring the car around.' Now that's class."

He hopes that the middle 20 percent, whose average tax cut will be $647, will also step up to the plate. "Yes, they'll have to borrow the remainder. But if you're already mired in debt and deficits, what's $1,353? I'm sure we can count on these guys. Right, guys? Guys?"

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Baffold vigorously counters the notion that "people like me have given up on those at the bottom. Actually, I intend to go after those people for all I'm worth. Now listen, I tell 'em. You don't have health insurance, or a mortgage, you eat crappy food, you're not paying union dues or buying piano lessons for your kids, and some of you don't even own a car. So there must be something you can donate to the Bush campaign. Fork it over."

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If you and your loved ones have been adversely impacted by the Bush economy and still want to support his election, just call 1-555-GET-REAL "Because when all is said and done, the DUMB want four more years of Bush."


Joyce McGreevy

Joyce McGreevy is a writer in Portland, Ore.

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