Endorsements

Wait no more: Unreal's presidential-candidate endorsements are in; plus we lament the loss of "Poetry Beat," check in with the lads at Sanford-Brown and wonder if we can get a direct line to God

The results of the Iowa primary on January 19, which saw erstwhile front-runners Howard Dean of Vermont and our very own Dick Gephardt finish a startlingly unrespectable third and fourth, have breathed new life into Missouri's February 3 primary. Unreal can take comfort in the fact that our recurring "You Don't Know Dick" helped educate the droves of Iowa voters who sought out our Web site for information on the south-city congressman.

But that's not enough. It's Unreal's mission to ensure that each potential primary voter receives the clearest, most informed information possible before stepping into the booth on Tuesday. With that in mind, Unreal presents our first-ever presidential primary endorsements.

When Richard Gephardt made the decision to bow out of the democratic race for president, we first felt as though we'd lost our favorite punching bag, one that helped us tone our body and mind for the challenges that lay ahead. On the surface, Gephardt's decision to bail made sense: His dismal fourth-place showing was a sober reminder that, well, he didn't stand a chance. "I accept the results with the knowledge that I gave this campaign everything that I had in me," he declared in his withdrawal speech. And that's exactly the kind of man we need in the White House: someone who can analyze the facts, consider public opinion, think long and hard, and then quit. The fact that Gephardt has withdrawn from the race only confirms to us that he is the most capable candidate. What fool in his right mind wouldn't. A clear thinker. Son of a milkman. An American.

Plus, it was Iowa, and what do those cornpones know about national politics? Congressman Gephardt stood a great chance to do reasonably well in Missouri, which is much further east and south than Iowa and, therefore, more in tune with the eastern and southern constituencies that will anoint a capable challenger to President Bush. And as they say, as Missouri goes, so goes the country. We're with them on that. After all, did we mention that Richard Gephardt was the son of a milkman? A milkman! For that simple reason, and that whole clear-thinking thing, we confidently endorse Richard Gephardt as the Democratic nominee for president.

University City Republican Blake Ashby's über-outsider campaign for the Republican presidential nomination started off swimmingly, with the 39-year-old self-proclaimed millionaire preaching a bullet-point sermon of moving the Grand Old Party to the center via progressive policies on recreational drug use, the environment and women's wombs. But somewhere along the way, Ashby began taking himself a bit too seriously, morphing into a right-wing combination of John Kerry and Howard Dean and apologizing, in print, to a too-trusting Jo Mannies for lying about his personal wealth, campaign budget and "contender" status, the sum of which the Post-Dispatch found worthy of A1 treatment.

Ashby has never been a potential threat to incumbent Bush's inevitable coronation, a fact he openly acknowledges nowadays. But far more accomplished men have fallen victim to delusions of grandeur (see: Dick Gephardt), so we forgive Ashby this temporary lapse of reason. Flawed candidate that he is, his vision for his party is sound, and the 208 mugshots his campaign provided Unreal during the infancy of his quixotic quest made for great fodder. For this, Mr. Ashby, Unreal thanks you -- and gives you our endorsement. Vote Blake Ashby on February 3 -- if you're a Republican, that is.

Polling Place

As goes Missouri, the conventional wisdom tells us, so goes the rest of the country. And, if Unreal's comprehensive demographic political surveying is accurate, we can further simplify this statement: As goes Heman Avenue, so goes America.

The Loop's Heman Avenue is a short street, but oh, the diversity! Blacks live there. Whites live there. An Asian lives there. Republicans, Democrats, Green Partiers, even Libertarians. For the Blake Ashby for President campaign, it is command central. Ashby himself lives on Heman, in a small apartment of the kind college students rent with a roommate. Millionaire college students, that is (wink, wink).

From Unreal's poll of nearly a dozen likely voters on that University City street, one thing is clear: Ashby has not brought his message to the people of Heman Avenue. Most likely voters there have no idea who he is. Some know who he is but don't know he's running for president. Some know he's running for president but wonder why. Others know why but simply don't care.

The people of Heman Avenue have spoken, and they are undecided. Fifty percent plan to give Ashby the nod in Missouri's February open primary on February 3, and 50 percent plan to support President Bush. Their reasons are varied. "I'm pro-choice," says one Ashby supporter. "I can hear him having sex with his girlfriend when I walk by on the street," says another. "It's disgusting. So, if it meant he would move to Washington D.C., I would vote for him."

Are You There, God?

In October the St. Louis Board of Public Service turned down T-Mobile's application to build a cellular phone tower in the St. Louis Hills neighborhood. Undeterred, the company approached Will Mason, the pastor of Southampton Presbyterian Church, about leasing space for six cell antennas on top of the two-story church's chimney. Mason, who leads a small congregation of 150 people, agreed. The antennas will be placed this spring, if T-Mobile's application to the city is approved on February 5.

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