Get out the Bactine: It's Gore vs. Bush by Dan Savage

Bill Bradley went tits up Tuesday, as expected, failing to wrest a single, face-saving state from Al Gore. As sports metaphors are required when writing about Bradley -- and this is my last chance to use them -- I'd like to take this opportunity to say that Bradley's been benched, thrown out of the game, sent to the showers, cut from the roster, shot in the head after breaking his leg in the homestretch, and sold to a glue factory. Barring assassination, Gore is the Democratic nominee.

John McCain's campaign collapsed Tuesday night, which was not expected. McCain lost all three states he had to win to keep his campaign afloat -- New York, California, and Ohio -- winning in only a handful of delegate-starved New England states. Most significantly, not only did George W. Bush win all of California's delegates, W. also won California's hotly contested/closely watched/completely kooky "beauty contest" (where non-Republicans could cast votes that didn't count toward delegates). Barring assassination, W. is the Republican nominee.

Now it gets ugly -- not that there's anything wrong with ugly.

W.'s speech on Tuesday night was a desperate attempt to rush back to the political center, heaping praise on immigrants, educators, and John McCain. But W. picked up some ugly baggage during his ruthless primary battle against McCain, including his speech at Bob Jones University in South Carolina and a last-minute McCain-bashing ad campaign that appears to have been illegally financed by some of W.'s rich pals. Those ads are going to go a long way toward negating Gore's illegal Buddhist-temple fundraiser as an issue.

Gore started out every bit as ruthless as W., but since it was clear that Bradley was a goner weeks ago, Gore lightened up toward the end of the primary race. Gore picked up baggage, too, however -- most notably his idiotic gays-in-the-military litmus test.

But the primaries were only a taste of the battle ahead. Up until now, W. and Gore have been battling against members of their own parties, and -- believe it or not -- their respective attacks on their opponents have actually been somewhat restrained. W. couldn't risk permanently alienating McCain's (few) Republican supporters; Gore couldn't risk alienating Bradley's Democrats. With the primaries over -- Bradley will shortly pull out, followed by McCain; only Alan Keyes will hang in there until the bitter end -- the gloves will come off. It's going to be a long, bloody fight, and we're all going to get our money's worth.

Makin' Hay at the Republican Caucus by Grant Cogswell

I wear a blue Civil War infantryman's hat to my Republican caucus on the backside of Capitol Hill. I'm harkening back to the good ol' days of the GOP -- the good ol' days of 1862. Dubya is the worst presidential candidate in living memory, but unfortunately it looks like he'll be up against Gore in the general election. I show up early and bring along "The Mayor of Casterbridge," the story of a man who makes a stupid mistake that ruins his life. Just as I flip it open, I come across Anna, a 30-year old captain in the Army Reserve, who claims to be a lifelong Republican, but admits that she has never voted for a GOP candidate in a major election. She gives me some insider information: Staffers are on the alert, trying to ward off Democratic interlopers. Anna admits that she herself had to get directions to the caucus from the Democrats down the street.

Soon, our tweedy precinct officer arrives and the event gets under way. Though there are a handful of people in the room, it appears that the only real Republicans are a black couple -- he in his 60s, she in her 30s. As the man argues conservative policy with the more moderate Anna, I ask the man's wife if she's voting for McCain. "Certainly not!" she says.

A young, white, gay boy shows, whom I believe I've seen gothing out on Broadway. He's wearing a polo shirt tonight. Three hipsters come through the door, completely unfamiliar with the process, and it's obvious they plan to vote for McCain. On every unanimous vote of procedure, hipster #1 abstains -- just for the hell of it.

Anna complains that the GOP "survey" included in our voting packets has an anti-immigrant bias (she writes up a resolution to "stop the U.S. from being the world's 911," while I compose one challenging the GOP platform's attacks on transit). Each of us is the only person here from our precinct, so we have the packets all to ourselves. And what packets they are -- two more Tim Eyman initiatives and glossy pics of Dubya.

When we get to choosing delegates, the seven of us pick sides. It looks like this caucus will produce one delegate to the state convention for Bush, and six for McCain. I'm going to be a Republican delegate! My wonderful late Grandma Lucile would be so proud.

Democrats Practice Robert's Rule of... ZZZZZZZZ by Eric Fredericksen

The Gore campaign posters offered at the front of the Seattle Central Community College classroom where Capitol Hill precincts held their caucuses were bilingual: "Gore 2000" on one side, "Viva Gore 2000" on the other. Latino voters, in case you haven't heard, are the "soccer moms" of the 2000 election, the crucial swing vote that Gore and Dubya will vie for. Actual Latinos were nowhere to be seen in my classroom, however -- they were in nearby hallways and classrooms taking ESL classes, which are probably a much better use of their time than attending the drawn-out, ineffectual process I was participating in.

Caucuses, as I remember from my Iowa childhood, are a way to select presidential candidates. Most of the business of this caucus had to do with reading, amending, re-amending, and then voting on a laundry list of potential planks in the party platform. Six resolutions awaited such action, dealing with issues from public education (more funding) to crime (calling for "diversion" treatment programs instead of prosecution for drug-related crimes). To these, my fellow caucusers wanted to add amendments calling for decriminalization of marijuana (passed) and increased teacher salaries (also passed). Since much of the process was governed by Robert's Rules of Order, this all took quite some time.

Finally, around an hour after the caucus convened, a suggestion was made to postpone the consideration of resolutions so that we could select delegates to the legislative district convention, set for April 29. The man making the suggestion was interested in freeing up those who wished to cast their votes for the presidential candidate and "go watch their television shows," without having to suffer through the succeeding debates on the environment, health care, "economic justice," and foreign issues. We split into precincts.

My precinct, 43-1847, had seven members in attendance, the most of any precinct represented at my caucus. As no more than 30 people were in attendance, spread among eight to 10 precincts, this was democracy at its most Athenian -- pretty much anyone who wanted to be a district delegate could be one.

This part of the evening was largely unnecessary, given that anyone with access to a television or computer with web access had known for hours that Gore had swept the nation's Super Tuesday primaries, winning everywhere in the East and leading in California. Bradley had a fork in his ass. Still, my leftie neighborhood was a little slow getting on the bandwagon, with most of its representatives going for Bradley. I grabbed my bilingual Gore placard and left in the middle of the delegate selection. Viva El Gore!