by Dale Connelly, 1/07/99
Dc: This is DCR. It's not the news, it only sounds that way.
In the primary campaigns for the presidential nomination, things are really starting
to happen, and everyone is talking about a remarkable moment when the two leading
candidates in the Enough! Party spontaneously agreed to re-write the book on campaign
finances and disclosure.
If you missed it, it came in the middle of a candidate's forum in Preliminary
Gap, New Hampshire, which was sponsored by the Uninformed Voters of America. A
member of the audience had just asked Senator Sam Spleen and former Governor Dick
Burstyn to comment on the break up of Scary Spice's marriage, and Burstyn was
in the middle of his answer when Spleen interrupted him ...
Burstyn: (fade up) ... is not a matter of whether one couple or another will stay
together, but rather, to quote Lincoln ... it's a "question of whether our
union will long endure." I'd like to think the answer to that question is
an unqualified "yes." But it's gonna take ...
Spleen: Say, Dick, I wonder if I could ... if I could interject something here.
This is gonna sound odd, but hearing you quote Lincoln got me to thinking ...
what if we did something totally wild and different, you and I. Something that
could revolutionize politics in America.
What would you say?
Burstyn: Well I'd say I'm always willing to listen to an idea, if it's presented
honestly and with dignity.
Spleen: I'll let you judge me on my seriousness but let me assure you I'm honest.
Though what I'm about to propose would require an awfully big admission. From
both of us. But I'm willing to admit to it.
If you'll come along.
(sfx: crowd murmur)
Burstyn: What could it be?
Spleen: Let's just admit it that the special interest money, the soft money ...
really does make a difference in how we stand on issues!
(sfx: crowd shock and horror)
Burstyn: I'm not sure I understand ...
Spleen: I'm talking about admitting that money really does buy our attention and
in some cases we make our policy based on what the big donors say! The big boys
... they get their due.
(sfx: crowd shock and horror)
Everybody knows it! I'm willing to say so! If you are!
Burstyn: Heh heh heh. Well it seems to me you already HAVE admitted it! And you've
completely ruined your campaign! It's a gaffe! I've never seen a gaffe before!
(sfx: crowd nervous laughter)
Spleen: Maybe some will say I have committed a gaffe. But I don't think so. I
think the American people are my friends, and I think my friends are ready for
(music: "America" sneaks in)
The people know best. They know we have to raise enormous amounts of money. They
know we court big donors.
The American people know that money buys access, and access gets results. And
they know that campaign spending limits don't work, and public funding of elections
is hopelessly complicated. They know it!
And there's something else ... the American people love disclosure. They love
So maybe somebody needs to get out there and speak up for a change. And maybe
that someone needs to be me! So I'll tell you who's got my attention, who butters
my bread! I'll say it loud. I'll be blunt, so you know where I stand! Sometimes
I stand with you ... the people. And sometimes ... I have to pay the bills. And
that's OK! Because the American people understand about paying the bills! They
do it every day.
And I think as long as I'm totally honest with Mr. And Mrs. America, they're gonna
be fair with me. So I'm going with extreme disclosure! If I'm alone in that, I
won't be totally alone because the people will be with me. And if making a commitment
to extreme honesty dooms me, then so be it!
(music: ends on grand notes)
(sfx: wild applause)
So whattaya say? How about it, Governor Burstyn? Are you with me?
Burstyn: (embarrassed, on the spot) Well ... there are so many questions.
Spleen: Go ahead! Ask away!
Burstyn: Well, for one thing ... how would you ... make it obvious who's funding
Spleen: Patches! Like the race car drivers wear!
Burstyn: Where would we ...
Spleen: Right on our suits! Look, I've already sewn some on!
(sfx: crowd alarm, some laughter)
Here's Krakatoa Cola ... they've spent a lot of soft money on me. And FossilOil
and DizCo ... they each own big chunks of me!
(sfx: crowd alarm rises)
Burstyn: This is a travesty! A mockery of the system!
Spleen: No it's not! It's admitting reality! Now people can really judge me! They
know my influences, my masters, my products. Let them judge me as I truly am!
I think they'll forgive! But what about you?
(sfx: crowd silence)
Are you going to let your sponsors stay a secret? Will you hide them behind a
shroud of shame? Or are you going to wear them ... proudly!
(sfx: crowd applause)
Dc: It was a defining moment in what was otherwise a dreary joint appearance by
the two candidates. With me to analyze this remarkable development is political
marketing expert Spin Williams. Spin?
Spin: It was a brilliant stroke by Spleen. I don't think anyone who saw it believes
otherwise ... and it will carry him to victory for one simple reason. His soft
money accounts have better brands. He's got cola, he's got entertainment, he's
got kid's toys ... OK, there's one oil company in there but nobody's perfect.
He's got pizza. PIZZA! America loves pizza! By contrast, look at Burstyn's funder
Top donor ... Sprawling Medical. Health care! That's a killer right there. Odd,
isn't it? Health care is the killer? He also got money from some large media companies,
which people distrust, lawyers, whom the public despises, stockbrokers, detestable,
and to top it off, he got a major, major contribution from the drunken boating
Dc: So he can't back away from this offer, and it will destroy him.
Spin: If he succeeds, it will be a miracle in our lifetime. Brilliant marketing
savvy by Spleen. He deserves to be president ... he's rounded up all the beloved
Dc: Political marketing analyst, Spin Williams.
Dale Connelly Reporting Home