By Alex Berger
An archaeologist was traveling through cannibal country and came upon a cafeteria with a menu on the door. The items were fried missionary at $5, sautéed safari guide at $10 and baked stuffed politician at $95. He went into the kitchen and asked the chef, “Why is the baked stuffed politician so expensive compared with the other entrees?”
The chef replied, “Did you ever try cleaning one?” – Milton Berle
Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it, misdiagnosing it and then misapplying the wrong remedies. – Groucho Marx
A few weeks back I announced my candidacy for the highest elected office in the land (no, not vying for J. Lo’s hand). I was off and running, hoping to grab the nomination for the presidency of these United States. I formed my own organization, the “Follow Bergere” party, and waited for my followers to follow me.
A strange thing happened. Nobody followed me. I knew then and there that I must woo one of the other established political parties for a chance at a nomination. I quickly became a good-guy, middle-of-the-roader candidate, but this ploy has failed. I learned that a middle-of-the-roader eventually gets it from both sides. So I put my political savvy into high gear and came up with two sure-fire, cannot-fail plans.
I would first follow U.S. Sen. John Kerry around and catch him if he fell off a platform following one of his political speeches. If I were able to do that, he would, of course, swear his allegiance to me for saving his life. Then, for obligatory reasons, he would acquiesce to my request to withdraw from the race and recommend me as his replacement; however, this well-planned plan failed.
Yes, he did stumble once but was caught by a couple of photo journalists standing next to me. Sacre bleu! Both newspaper people (a man and a woman) opted to push me aside rather than let me have the honor of the catch. For that, I lost my chance of a lifetime.
Following that debacle, I next planned to kidnap President George Bush’s cat and hold him (er, her) ransom. My price for his (er, her) release would be Bush’s withdrawing from the race and recommending me as the Republican Party’s nomination. But as we all must learn, “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray,” and mine certainly did.
That supercilious bag of fur had other ideas. It sacrificed one of its nine lives by running into the arms of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. I was left catless. Another disappointment.
I was now becoming desperate. I knew that as an alternative, I would have to build my own power structure. The first order of business was to hire a political consultant. I tried to get James Carville or Ann Coulter, but they declined. They both were suffering from the same ailment, foot-in-mouth disease.
Next I tried to join in the debates among the candidates but was shut out by court order. The judge ruled I couldn’t win. Didn’t the football Giants beat the Jets this year?
I had to have my persona more recognizable so I began to shake hands with everyone in sight. I pressed more flesh than a thousand stomach exercising machines. I also made many campaign speeches to many important organizations, hoping to gain their support. I knew I had to hit them all with brilliant and pertinent oratory.
At the Daughters of the American Revolution High Tea and Crumpets Convention, I opened with a wow. I made a plea for more women’s bathrooms in public places, theaters and restaurants. I scolded them for lengthening the waiting lines by trotting off to the loo in twos and threes and socializing with each other well beyond the time necessary to complete their tasks at hand. There was a one-minute silence before they threw me out.
At the Riflemen’s Association, I presented sage advice: “Animals should be hunted more fairly. Give them a rifle to even the odds.” A rifle was then pointed at me. I never stopped running until I was out of sight.
I tried again. At a sky-diving coffee clotch, I said, “Your parachutes are not like your minds; if you find yourselves falling, one should be closed and the other open.” I was promptly flown out the door by the space people.
And at a senior citizen center, I said, “You will be young at heart if you vote for me and, old fuddy-duddies, if you vote for the other fellow.”
To members of Alcoholics Anonymous, I mentioned, “Drinks are on me after you vote.” At the Policeman’s Ball I declared, “There is a shocking rise in identity theft. It has gotten so bad that even I don’t know who I am.”
All the groups appreciated my sincerity, but they threw me out, anyway. In desperation, I attempted to charm Bush and become his vice president running mate, but he turned me down very diplomatically. He whispered in my ear, “##**XX!!!” (censored).
Many of my political rivals keep claiming that I have no humility. They are jealous. I must admit, however, that if I did have humility, my humility would certainly be better than their humilities.
So in view of these undeserved rebuffs, rejections and heave-hos, I now have an important announcement to make. Effective immediately, if not sooner, your humble columnist (with humility), who patriotically entered this presidential race solely to give the many dissatisfied Americans in his beloved country another choice for the office of the presidency, has decided to drop out forthwith, henceforth and e pluribus unum.
I began this endeavor as an optimist and ran a smart campaign, but alas and alack, Dame Fortune refused to shake my hand.
Please, dear readers out there, don’t weep. Remember Bob Hope’s story of the woman who was touring the Capitol building in Washington one morning. The guide pointed to a tall, benevolent gentleman and said he was the congressional chaplain.
“What does he do?” the woman inquired. “Does he pray for Congress and the president?”
“No,” the guide answered. “He gets up every morning, looks at the Congress, walks to the White House, looks at the president, and then prays for the country.”
Not running for president may be a blessing. As the old saying goes, “Be careful for what one wishes for — it may come true.”
Reach columnist Alex Berger by e-mail at email@example.com or call 718-229-0300, Ext. 140.