The Guilfoile-Warner Papers


In 2001 Kevin Guilfoile and John Warner lampooned the new president in their book, My First Presidentiary. Now, with the election behind us, they discuss Bush’s victory, what the Democrats have to do between now and 2008, and what we’re supposed to do with all this time on our hands.

Nov. 3, 2004


As I write this, John Kerry has just announced he will graciously concede the election and it looks like the Dems have taken a spanking that will leave a lasting red mark. Many are already blaming Kerry, but he did better than most blue candidates. The GOP increased their majorities in the House and Senate. The people of Louisiana elected a Republican to the Senate for the very first time. South Dakota chose to oust their Senate minority leader, officially making that state to political clout what Utah is to liquor and porn. The only real bright spot for the Democrats was here in Illinois, where a handsome and charismatic Harvard Law graduate was able to defeat an intensely unlikable man from another state who is also completely and entirely insane.

It’s not too early to start learning lessons for the next time around, and the first one is quite clear: The Democrats have to figure out how to suppress the popular vote. I’m not sure how they’d go about doing this. On the morning of the election, they might call men in the red states and tell them the opening of deer season has been moved up to today. Or, depending on the zip code, fox hunting season. As for those pesky “NASCAR Dads,” I suggest the Democrats sponsor Rusty Wallace’s Dodge and paint it with the words, “IF YOU VOTE, YOU MIGHT BE A HOMOSEXUAL.”

I know for a fact that there are 18- to 21-year-olds in America because many of them were at my house trick-or-treating Sunday night (without costumes, btw), and many Dems (and maybe even P. Diddy) are blaming all their problems this time around on youths who chose death over voting. Certainly Howard Dean was supposed to ride to the nomination on a wave of support from enthusiastic first-time voters, but on primary day in Iowa they were all signing up for a Frisbee golf tournament in Cedar Rapids. I’m not ready to pile on the kids for this week’s debacle, however. On Tuesday, some 1,200 earnest collegians in Columbus, Ohio, waited in poll lines for up to 11 hours. The other 49,000 students on campus saw the line snaking around the basketball arena and quite reasonably returned to their dorms to off PlayStation cops in GTA: San Andreas.

Finally, much has been written about the relatively recent phenomenon in which large numbers of people vote against their own economic interests. I find nothing befuddling about this whatsoever. It’s all about hedging against disappointment. Let’s say you’re a wealthy Hollywood producer who has raised money for the Kerry campaign. If Kerry wins you enjoy the open bar at the victory party, but if Bush wins, you still get your tax cut. It’s win-win. On the other hand, let’s say you’re a union electrician with a Bush/Cheney bumper sticker on your F-150. If Kerry wins, you still get affordable health insurance. If Bush wins, you’ve helped punish gay people for giving Jesus the heebie-jeebies.

And the day after the election, everyone is happy.



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Nov. 4, 2004


Thank goodness our long, national nightmare is over. That’s right: On Thursday, Nov. 4 The O.C. will be back for its second season. Nothing will soothe the pain of this election outcome like the soapy exploits of outrageously attractive southern California teenagers and their equally attractive parents. Until then, though, we might as well engage in a little Democratic Party post-mortem.

I agree that for 2008, voter suppression is going to be key, and I would add one additional tactic. Outside of polling places in heavily Republican districts, post signs pointing the way to auditions for Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. However, putting forward a Democratic candidate who can capture the “moral values” landscape will be equally as important to breaking through the Republican juggernaut. To that end, I thought I’d take a look at the some early contenders and how they might grab the values mantle for 2008.

John Edwards

He’s the early favorite, but he’s going to have to get out of the trial lawyer game. Nobody is a greater threat to American values than independently operating entrepreneurial lawyers who risk their own capital to secure large judgments for grievously injured individuals from corrupt or negligent corporations. Stop picking on the big guys, Edwards! Be like President Bush and focus your energies on crushing the disenfranchised like the poor and homosexual. A place to start might be to lobby counties to decrease the waiting time before stray dogs are gassed at animal shelters. It would communicate being tough on vagrancy and tough on puppies all in one fell swoop.

Hillary Clinton

Personally, I think an HRC presidency is about as likely as the NHL overtaking elephant polo as the 37th most popular sport in America, but there’s already speculation that she’s angling for the next race. The problem is that she has no platform from which to run on values. Moderate to liberal married suburban women like my mother dislike her because she failed to cut her husband’s dick off when he cheated on her. Rural conservatives hate her because she is the anti-Christ. My recipe for Hillary is to tack right and come out strongly pro-gun by using one to plug her husband in the leg or shoulder. She’ll simultaneously be tough on infidelity and pro-revenge. However, it’s important that the wound be non-fatal since she won’t want to lose her husband’s political magic on the campaign trail.

Barack Obama

Personally, I think the speculation regarding Obama is a little premature, but he’s going to be a player for sure. On moral issues, he’s pretty solid, except for the fact that he wants to kill babies and let criminals live. As a way to successfully negotiate the abortion-rights minefield and appease potential conservative supporters, Obama should offer to adopt all of the children of unwanted pregnancies. His wife looks pretty snazzy. I think she could handle a brood of a few million.

SpongeBob Squarepants

Yes, he’s a sea sponge and he wears short-sleeved dress shirts with a tie, but he’s already shown that he can reach across the species divide and get along with crabs, squid, starfish, and scuba-diving squirrels. SpongeBob’s blue-collar roots as a fry cook make him a compelling figure for the rural heartland that has increasingly gone conservative. His only hurdle is that he may be Austrian by birth, but I’m not sure about that one. Fortunately for SpongeBob, President Bush has shown us that being a cartoon character is no impediment to election.

One final comment before throwing it back to you. Apparently, the election was closer than we thought, relying not on the spread of five million or so votes that make up the nearly final Bush margin, but the single vote of one man, John McCain. According to Newsweek, John Kerry offered McCain unprecedented power—including a dual role as Secretary of Defense—if McCain signed on as Kerry’s running mate. Surely, this would have siphoned off enough socially moderate Terror Mommies (or whatever they’re called) to swing the election. I’m willing to believe that McCain is a man of honor who stuck to his party and president out of loyalty, but that’s a pretty sweet deal to turn down, especially when it would have provided the opportunity for a little payback against Karl Rove for cutting him off at the knees in 2000. My hunch is the Bush team made him a better deal.

I’m thinking something like emperor of the lost city of Atlantis, or something like that.



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Nov. 5, 2004


Emotions ran so high during the campaign that many blue-staters are now having trouble burning off their amped-up frustration. I hear a lot of folks, who just a few weeks ago were feeling defensive about their patriotism, now talking half-seriously about moving to Canada. The election has inverted their world to such a degree that individuals who have long championed the virtues of multi-culturalism now dream of living in one of the whitest, most homogeneous societies in the world. (Which is not to say Canadians aren’t lovely people—they are—I’m just saying it’s funny, is all.)

I suspect smarty-pants like you and me will start hauling out Tocqueville now. I predict “Tyranny of the Majority” will be a well-worn phrase over the next four years. There will be a politically charged rap album called Tyranny of the Majority. In New York delis you’ll be able to order a B.L.Tyranny of the Majority. HBO will produce a political comedy, Tranny of the Majority, about a Republican senator named Alex who switches both genders and parties while Congress is out of session, thus creating a sudden shift in Washington’s balance of power—and balance of fun!

Lots of my east- and west-coast friends have thought it quaint that I live in flyover country, but who’s laughing today? After several statewide political corruption scandals, Illinois is one of the few places in America where the Republican Party is almost completely marginalized. Unlike New York and L.A., a Republican mayor in Chicago is as hard to imagine as a sober Tara Reid. The G.O.P. is so weak here that the papers were able to force the original Republican nominee for Senate to step down simply by suggesting he wanted to have sex with his own wife. Our Democratic governor boldly moved his office out of the more conservative Springfield to Chicago and is even on speaking terms with the French, having convinced them this week to sell us surplus flu vaccine. We are the home of Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Roger Ebert, a mid-continent oasis where the Democratic machine is still well-oiled and maintained.

You don’t need to go to Canada, chums. Come home to Illinois.

(Also note we have fulfilled the obligation of Democratic-leaning pundits to mention Barack Obama at least twice in any assessment of the party’s future.)



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Nov. 6, 2004


The wailing and hand-wringing from the leftward part of the Democratic party exposes what I think is one of the reasons for Kerry’s defeat. At our worst moments, liberals begin to display decidedly illiberal behavior that’s a mirror image of the authoritarian tendencies they decry on the right. The talk of emigration to Canada, or secession, even in only semi-seriousness, is sort of embarrassing, not as embarrassing as losing an election to the worst president in the last 100 years, but you know, it’s still pretty embarrassing.

But as you note, Chicago is proof positive that a majority need not mean tyranny and that a populace can thrive under a syntax-mangling emperor’s rule, as long as said emperor is sufficiently enlightened, and enjoys pork sausage.

Perhaps a higher power did ordain the second term of President Bush, as the initial days of Bush II are off to a smashing start. Marines have opened up on Fallujah, the stock market is up, job growth doubled expectations in the month of October, Yasser Arafat’s imminent passing will provide a new window for piece in the Middle East, and multiple Supreme Court appointments loom on the horizon. I’m certain that President Bush’s corporate and church overlords are very pleased. On the other hand, I saw a flock of birds flying overhead this morning, so clearly the environmentalist wackos continue to unfairly restrain industry and progress.

I am, for sure, worried about the prospects of a second Bush administration. If, for example, homosexuality is outlawed, what impact will that have on the sexy girl-on-girl kissing action in the popular Girls Gone Wild video series? I can just picture all those nubile co-eds locked up in the federal pen with the pregnant teenagers who sought abortions. Whoa… wait just a second…hold the phone…that picture is hot! Much hotter than a pile of naked Iraqi detainees. Let’s hope President Bush decides to spend his political capital on making it come true.

Maybe re-electing Bush wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

Here’s to an interesting four years.


TMN Contributing Writer John Warner is the author of the preeminent guide to winning the race for the Oval Office, So You Want to Be President?, and is Chief Creative Czar of TOW Books. He teaches at the College of Charleston.

TMN Contributing Writer Kevin Guilfoile’s debut thriller, Cast of Shadows, was named one of the Best Books of 2005 by the Chicago Tribune and the Kansas City Star. His humor has appeared in the New York Times Magazine, Maxim, and The New Republic. More by Kevin Guilfoile & John Warner