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November 07, 2006

A Small Plea to the Right: Vote Left in 2006

Dear Republicans:

Here's the thing. We've got ourselves a Republican President who likes to whiz all over the Constitution; really, he just likes to whip out Lil' Dubya and make a splatter tinkle all over James Madison's handiwork. Then he looks over to the Republican Congressional leadership, which says "that's a right pretty tinkle, Mr. President," and hands him a six-pack so he can reload. And while they're doing their little Andres Serrano act on the founding document, they're holding back a reserve for your basic Republican ideals of individual freedom, fiscal responsibility and smaller government. You see how this might be a problem.

As Republican voters, I figure you've got two choices when you step into the voting booth today. You can either get pissed on, or you can get pissed off. And if you choose the latter -- if you decide it might be important that your Republican leaders actually act like Republicans, and also treat the Constitution as something other than a nice absorbent blotter for their processed beer -- you might consider doing what it appears so many others are going to do this year and give your vote to the Democrats.

"But wait," I hear you say. "Won't voting for a Democrat make me a Democrat? Won't it scald my flesh? Won't the ground open up underneath me and tumble me into a hellish chasm where Susan Sarandon and Barbra Streisand savage my nether regions with a strap-on that looks just like Al Franken?"

Absolutely not! Nothing could be further from the truth. First off, the strap-on actually looks like John Kerry (his chin massages your prostate!). But you don't get invited to The Pit until the second time you vote Democrat. So you're safe. Try not to be too disappointed. Second, and rather more importantly, voting Democrat in this case doesn't make you a Democrat. Far from it -- it makes you a better Republican, one who recognizes that the likelihood of Republican party reforming itself and re-embracing genuine Republican principles without being booted on its ass is roughly the same as, say, Al Gore waxing poetic about the health advantages of breathing coal dust. By voting Democratic, you're letting the GOP know that you think it would be nice if it stopped being the party of swelling deficits and shrinking individual rights and got back to what it says it believes in.

Third, let's be honest: Even the wettest of their dreams, the Democrats won't be getting anything close to a veto-proof majority. Yes, they'll whoop and holler and Nancy Pelosi will sacrifice a goat or whatever it is that she does, and then the Democrats will get all misty about their big plans. But without a veto-proof majority, they're mostly harmless for the next two years. That's enough time for the GOP to tear itself apart in a fury of bitter recrimination, crawl out of the bloody ruins re-energized and then take a rock to the skulls of those unwary Democrats in 2008. Foolish pinkos! They'll never see it coming! Where's your goat now, Speaker Pelosi?

Now, believe me, Republicans, I sympathize with you. I'm sure it will be hard to pull the lever for the party of Bill and Hillary, and to know that for the next two years, somewhere in Hollywood, Sean Penn is giggling like a bisexual Wesleyan freshman inhaling his first whippet. But, listen: you're not doing it for Sean, or for that Wesleyan bisexual. You're doing it for the idea of separation of powers, for congressional oversight of the executive, and for a re-establishment of the genuine ideological principles of the GOP. You're doing it for the good of the nation and your party. And anyway, that's why it's a secret ballot. Go ahead and lie to your friends and the exit polls. It's all right. Like that night in college with that lacrosse player, no one has to know.

Just give it some thought, is all I'm saying. About the voting, that is, not the lacrosse player (save that for later). Consider whether the Republican party you have now is the Republican party you signed on for, and the one you want to lead the country. If it's not, help to make it become the right party for the right side of the political spectrum. Vote Democrat in 2006.

Posted by john at November 7, 2006 12:00 AM

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Comments

Kurt | November 7, 2006 12:42 AM

Geez John,
You certainly have a way with words!!! I cant claim I always agree with you and being entirely honest, you have made me distinctly uncomfortable a time or two but that is a good thing and arent we lucky to live in a place where you and I can agree or disagree and nobody has to die for it.

Keep writing and I'll keep reading what you have to say and oh by the way, waiting with great expectations for my copy of The androids dream.

John Scalzi | November 7, 2006 12:44 AM

Indeed, Kurt: Civil disagreement is a good thing, and I'm glad we can do it.

I hope you enjoy Android's!

Dave S. | November 7, 2006 12:48 AM

Here, here! Well written, John.

Kelly Buehler | November 7, 2006 01:09 AM

inhaling his first whippet

That's a dog not a nitrous cartridge!

Funny mental picture though.

Dan Cordell | November 7, 2006 01:14 AM

Unfortunately, the entire thing seems like a South Park episode to me: I can vote for a turd sandwich or a giant douche.


Gods, I hate partisan politics.

Ginny | November 7, 2006 01:53 AM

I wish I'd seen this prior to explaining to my mother why she needed to vote Democratic this election (she's been a Republican since prior to my birth in 1964).

David "The Longtime Lurker" | November 7, 2006 01:54 AM

I agree with both Kurt and Dan- but I will be exercising my right to not say anything. :)

I'll choose the greatest of three evils, personally. I'll see no one at the polls, since I won't be there. 8/

Bill | November 7, 2006 02:21 AM

Voting for Democrats in order to chastise Republicans has the unfortunate side effect of encouraging Democrats (that law of Unintended Consequences is a bitch, ain't she?)

If you actually think that giving more power to Nancy Pelosi, the Ford machine of Memphis, etc., is a good thing, more power to you and the D side of your ballot. If you want to bring down Republicans a peg, and actually improve the governance of the country, pick a third party candidate. Write one in if you have to. If no one is running, write it a person of good character who _doesn't want the job_.

Shifting power from a one group of politicians whose power has gone so far to their heads that they pee on the constitution (your words, not mine) to another group who is essentially just as worthy of Acton's Dictum won't solve the problem.

C | November 7, 2006 02:24 AM

so, are you saying that the beliefs and ideas of the political parties are absolutes? and the republican canidates are straying from the original idea of what a well polished republican should look like? And so, To vote *democrat* your actually being a *better* republican? I'm sorry, but I do not understand you on that one, I would think voteing democrat would more, in turn, make you a better American... Then again, just having a opinion and voting makes you a better American.

That is...assuming your right and all the republican canidates are turd snadwhichs and giant douches.

David "The Longtime Lurker" | November 7, 2006 03:11 AM

Or assuming you want to be a better American.

Hugh | November 7, 2006 03:12 AM

Bill,

re "pick a third party candidate" - that worked so well in 2004, didn't it?

James D. Macdonald | November 7, 2006 06:44 AM

re "pick a third party candidate" - that worked so well in 2004, didn't it?

Worked even better in 2000....

John Scalzi | November 7, 2006 07:04 AM

Bill:

"If you want to bring down Republicans a peg, and actually improve the governance of the country, pick a third party candidate."

Answers like this are cute, in that they totally ignore the reality of voting at this moment. People who wish not to have the Republicans in power would be foolish to vote for third party candidates at this time; even assuming the third party candidate could win, which they can't, having a mass of unaffiliated newbies up on the hill would simply allow a rump quorum of GOP to retain leadership, because they can all vote as a bloc, and because then they could pick off enough individual new representatives to get a team in place. No, voting third party is not a practical option this year, but then, most people know that already.

Having said that, if Republicans want to vote for third party candidates this year rather than Democrats, I'm down with that.

Dean | November 7, 2006 07:32 AM

Re: third parties. John's point is valid even if made in puckish fashion, and if you want to send a message to the Republicans, the best way to do it is to vote for their Hated Enemy, the Traitors who want to Cut and Run, the Friends of the Terrorists who hold the MSM in the palms of their fiendish anti-American, troop-hating hands.

If Republicans are smart, they'll go along with this strategy. Iraq is lost, and it is going to take George with it when it finally goes down the drain. It is in the Republican Party's best interest to put forward a weak candidate for president in 2008, because whoever is president is going to have to deal with a hell of a political mess with the whole Iraq deal. It would be good, from a Republican point of view, to have, say, John Kerry take the whipping for that.

Smart partisan Democrats have to be thinking the same thing: it would be good to have the helicopters-on-the-roof moment of the Iraq debacle fall on the watch of a Republican president, thus a weak candidate in 2008 (really, can Iraq stagger on much past then? I don't think so) so that Iraq can be laid historically completely at the feet of the Republican party.

However, anybody partisan enough to think so cynically isn't capable of taking the long view. They just want to win, to smash Repugs or Dhimmicrats, and they will never, ever vote for The Enemy.

Dean | November 7, 2006 07:35 AM

Oh, and that image of John Kerry's chin massaging my prostate? That's going to leave a scar.

Dave | November 7, 2006 07:35 AM

We've got ourselves a Republican President who likes to whiz all over the Constitution; really, he just likes to whip out Lil' Dubya and make a splatter tinkle all over James Madison's handiwork.

True. Of course, this has been pretty much true about every president in my lifetime (I'd rank Bush as third worst in that time frame, or possibly fourth). It's certainly, absolutely, and irrevocably true about the current Dem leadership. The currently favored 2008 Republican presidential nominee (McCain) is vastly worse on this axis, as is the current most likely Dem nominee (Clinton). Given all of that, why exactly should fealty to the Constitution be a deciding factor?

Don't get me wrong, I think it would be a much nicer world if your analysis held, but there's really no evidence that any strategic voting this cycle will have either short- or long- term positive impact on constitutional issues.

Steve Buchheit | November 7, 2006 08:04 AM

I'll go with just voting.

Steve Buchheit | November 7, 2006 08:16 AM

And speaking of voting, man, Ollie North must be pissed this morning.

Nathan | November 7, 2006 08:24 AM

Tell the truth John. You were hittin' the bottle before you wrote this, right?

"Vote your Prostate Dude"!

John Scalzi | November 7, 2006 08:30 AM

Dave:

"there's really no evidence that any strategic voting this cycle will have either short- or long- term positive impact on constitutional issues."

Bullshit. It's called "separation of powers." If the legislature and the executive are led by people of differing political philosophies, they tend to keep each other from overreaching, both legislatively and constitutionally. The contention that the Democrats and Republicans are just the same is lazy thinking, particularly in this year, when the two parties have some very real differences in agenda. In the short term, putting the Dems in charge in the Congress will hopefully make a vast difference in how the Constitution is abused and ignored. I'll worry about the long term later, because right now the house is on fire.

I rather vehemently disagree that any of Dubya's recent predecessors have shown either the same contempt for the Constitution of the United States as he has -- or more importantly, have had such a willing partner in the undermining of the rights and protections the Constitution provides as the Republican majority of the last two Congresses. You're free to disagree, of course, but I'm pretty sure the facts are against you on this one.

A.R.Yngve | November 7, 2006 08:45 AM

I've noticed that around election time, "some" Americans don't bother to vote (about half of them), leaving the influence to the politically "committed" (and among those, the fringe minority who ought to be committed). The fewer "ordinary joes" who vote, the greater the power of the fringe voters.

Another side effect of fewer people voting are weak electoral majorities -- which leads to the bizarro elections of 2000 and 2004, which gradually undermine the public trust in democracy.

In my overseas perspective, that's the big problem with U.S. politics: not those who vote, but the many who don't.

But what do I know? I'm not American...

John H | November 7, 2006 08:48 AM

You're free to disagree, of course, but I'm pretty sure the facts are against you on this one.

Damn straight!

John H | November 7, 2006 08:52 AM

In my overseas perspective, that's the big problem with U.S. politics: not those who vote, but the many who don't.

The big problem is all the 24/7, mud-slinging nastiness that gets shat all over the airwaves for the twelve months prior to the election. It has the effect (intentional, IMO) of turning people off to voting - mostly middle-of-the-road, sensible people who end up thinking both sides are equally slimy.

Dave | November 7, 2006 09:04 AM

Bullshit. It's called "separation of powers." If the legislature and the executive are led by people of differing political philosophies, they tend to keep each other from overreaching, both legislatively and constitutionally.

Nice in theory, but it doesn't much work in practice. More often, the two opposing parties end up buying each other off with compromises, said compromises often being at the cost of the constitution. The petty grinding away of the private sphere that results is just as dangerous as flashier transgressions, and much harder to reverse.

I rather vehemently disagree that any of Dubya's recent predecessors have shown either the same contempt for the Constitution of the United States as he has -- or more importantly, have had such a willing partner in the undermining of the rights and protections the Constitution provides as the Republican majority of the last two Congresses. You're free to disagree, of course, but I'm pretty sure the facts are against you on this one.

The administrations I had in mind were Nixon, Johnson, and possibly Reagan. The contempt of the first two for constitutional limits is rather solid historical fact, and greatly exceeds anything more recent administrations have seen, as did their deep and abiding corruption. I'm going to assume you're not about to stick up for Reagan's constitutional fair-dealing, although I can see how others might. (None of this should be taken to indicate that other recent administrations were paragons of constitutional virtue. After all, what incentive do they have to do so?)

I stick to my belief that there's no great win here from the point of constitutional protection no matter which side wins.

John Scalzi | November 7, 2006 09:10 AM

Dave:

"I stick to my belief that there's no great win here from the point of constitutional protection no matter which side wins."

Well, fair enough. However, allow me to suggest that if the Democrats are in control of the Congress, the chance of Constitutional abuses will go down, relative to if the GOP holds on.

grhm | November 7, 2006 09:12 AM

So, who wants to call the election a bust if less than 50% vote?

Throw everyone out because the majority have not spoken.

Think the second go would be more interesting with no incumbants? Would more people vote in the next round? Would more independent candidates come forward?

I'm in the UK so am stuck with Labour/Tory duopoly. It's pretty hard to tell them apart at the moment - as useless as each other.

Dave | November 7, 2006 09:18 AM

However, allow me to suggest that if the Democrats are in control of the Congress, the chance of Constitutional abuses will go down, relative to if the GOP holds on.

If it makes you feel better, go for it. Absolutely nothing I've seen in my life or my reading of history gives me any reason to believe this statement (or it's converse).

Soren | November 7, 2006 09:20 AM

I stick to my belief that there's no great win here from the point of constitutional protection no matter which side wins.

Yeah, to continue the anal-sex metaphor, it's a choice between 'ram it in all at once' and 'inch by inch like a gentleman.' The key difference is that only in the first case are you likely to get a prolapsed rectum out of the deal.

Mmm mmm. Who feels like some big juicy election-day sausages?

CoolBlue | November 7, 2006 09:34 AM

Well my argument is the opposite.

A defeat for Democrats might get them to finally purge the left wing of their party and get back on track so I can vote for them again.

While a win will simply delay that day.

That day will come, sooner or later. I say it should be sooner rather than later.

One thing I do not want is to not have a choice for President in 2008.

Again.

clvrmnky | November 7, 2006 09:38 AM

Yup. This confirms it. American politics are just /weird/.

Well, ok, politics in general are highly, highly weird. I'm just saying that the way the two-party system polarizes everything (if you are not careful) is seriously weirding me out, today.

But I've been taking a fair amount of over-the-counter cough syrup, so it may just be me.

David Thayer | November 7, 2006 09:50 AM

I think Dems will be disappointed come tomorrow. Bush is a lame duck regardless of who wins individual races because he's frightened Republicans as well as the rest of us with his arrogance. This is not Richard Nixon: Bush is all by himself in the Pantheon of cynical chief executives.

Bearpaw | November 7, 2006 09:55 AM

CoolBlue,

If the Repubs get their butts handed to them this time -- as they so richly deserve -- I hope they'll finally purge ...

Hmmm, when I tried to list all of the wings of the Republican party worth purging, it only left the actual, honest conservatives. Who might actually be better off abandoning the party to self-destruction and join forces with small-l libertarians. Then I could vote for them again.

Kevin Downing | November 7, 2006 10:13 AM

Those of you not condemned to live in or near NJ wiil probably not understand this, but given the opportunity to vote for a dirty, sleazy incumbent Democratic Senator and his clean but inexperienced Republican challenger, I'll be going right, thank you.

Blanket statements don't apply in today's world, no matter what side you're on.

I will, however, be finishing TAD while I'm waiting in line to vote. A fantastic, entertaining yarn so far, Scalzi.

htom | November 7, 2006 11:11 AM

Sorry, I did the "Peace with Honor"[sic] thing once -- getting the DD214 with the service-connected disability -- and don't care for another taste of leaving in the middle of the woes. There are too many dead and wounded already to go that way. Remember, more were killed after we left South Vietnam than while we were there.

This is what nation-building looks like. They have to do it, we're just a crutch. Could things have gone better? Always. Could they have gone worse? Very much worse. We're volunteering to be a diversionary target while they settle a century of blood-feuds.

John Scalzi | November 7, 2006 11:20 AM

Kevin Downing:

"Those of you not condemned to live in or near NJ wiil probably not understand this, but given the opportunity to vote for a dirty, sleazy incumbent Democratic Senator and his clean but inexperienced Republican challenger, I'll be going right, thank you."

Well, above all, you should vote your conscience, Kevin. I think that's axiomatic.

John | November 7, 2006 11:24 AM

I thought about it.

But no.

There are a few Democrats holding offices at the state level that have been doing a damn fine job and I'll be voting for them. But that's it.

Tony Zbaraschuk | November 7, 2006 11:36 AM

I'm still planning to vote Republican, but I could wish more Democrats were as sensible as our host here.

(I've been thinking for a while that when you have Republican governors even in the blue states -- the Governator here in California, Romney in Massachusetts, things like that -- there must be something seriously wrong with Democratic ideology if it can't actually _govern_. 2004 was a done deal for the Republicans when the Democrats couldn't find a state governor capable of winning their nomination. Forget this Senator thing, guys: Senator Kennedy's been dead for forty years, and he only won the election because he was up against Nixon, who even as VP was not very loved. Your last two presidents were both state governors... and your next president is going to be as well. So find him. Make him.)

Ted | November 7, 2006 12:15 PM

Tony: All the fact that there are Republican governors in blue states shows is that people aren't party line voting machines. There are also Democratic governors in red states--think Virginia, Kansas, Montana, North Carolina, etc. Also, it's pretty clear that after this election the majority of Governors will be Democrats--while the gubernatorial races haven't gotten nearly as much play as the House and Senate, Democrats have been working hard to elect Governors this year.

A.R.Yngve | November 7, 2006 01:51 PM

Someone asked the million-dollar question:
"So, who wants to call the election a bust if less than 50% vote?"

At which limit does the system lose all credibility? 50% voter turnout? 40% ? 30% ? 5% ? You tell me.

Mule Face | November 7, 2006 02:18 PM

My favorite Scalzi political post yet. I say that as a conservative Republican. The GOP needs a spanking to clear their vision. This stranglehold on power has done it's inevitable damage. But the Dem's opportunity to screw things up will be highly limited. Here's to 2 years of divided government!

John H | November 7, 2006 02:42 PM

Here's to 2 years of divided government!

Hopefully followed by several years of Democratic controlled government...

JesterJ | November 7, 2006 02:44 PM

I voted for Democrats today for the second time in my life (the last being the Bush-Kerry election). I feel a little soiled, but being a conservative (and non-religious) the Republimen didn't leave me much choice. Consider your plea heard, Mr. Scalzi!

Hopefully the next election won't be Hilary vs. Jeb...

Bryan Price | November 7, 2006 04:13 PM

The latest craze that seems to be "the thing" for whipping up support of Shrub, I mean Bush, is that voting Republican is a vote against terrorism. Or is that "vote against Terrorism" with a capital T.

One author in particular who gets slammed with being a Bush supporter keeps saying "I'm no Bush supporter!" And when somebody brings up that things sound like an echo chamber on his blog, "This isn't an echo chamber!". Yeah, it's an echo chamber, and yeah, he's supporting Bush.

And I'm sure that's just how the Administration will talk about this election. It was a vote to allow the terrorists to win.

My question is, when do the terrorists win if so, and exactly what is going to happen then and afterward?

Consequently, when do we win if so, and what is going to happen then and afterward?

I voted my ticket totally Democratic. I am quite willing to send the Administration a message. But I'm sure the Administration will take the "mandate" and turn it their way, no matter what happens.

JesterJ — That's a ticket were I'll just vote neither.

calnj | November 7, 2006 04:33 PM

Kevin Downing:

That's exactly the problem I've been struggling with all day. I'll be voting on my way home from work, and I think I know what I'm going to do. Although it hurts my soul to vote Repub, I can't vote for a sleezoid crook.

But I still get a little sick when I think of actually voting for who Dubya wants me to vote for.

Todd Stull | November 7, 2006 04:42 PM

Bryan:

Why, you must not have been paying attention. The war on terrorism is over just as soon as Bush flies in on an aircraft carrier and gives us the thumbs up!

Of course, we lose the minute we elect any more Democrats to office.

Geez, it's so simple. You must have been doing something while the President was talking. Like, oh, I don't know. Thinking.

Johnny Carruthers | November 7, 2006 06:51 PM

I voted for Clinton in 1992. That's the only vote I have ever been ashamed of casting, and I won't make the same mistake again.

Quite frankly, the only Democrat in recent years that I would be willing to vote for is Zell Miller, and he has retired.

Mule Face | November 7, 2006 07:52 PM

John H:

"Hopefully followed by several years of Democratic controlled government..."

Well, that'll sure give you a chance to see your hoped-for Valhala(sp?). Last time we had "several years" of Democratic controlled gov't were the Kennedy-Johnson years that spawned Vietnam - now THAT was awesome! Let's go for higher taxes & Euro-style social benefits...yep, heaven on earth, here we come.

John Scalzi | November 7, 2006 08:00 PM

Speaking for myself, I'm thinking perpetual divided government might deserve a chance.

casey | November 7, 2006 08:31 PM

dude, you are seriously ridiculous.

i know im going in for a losing battle, with you being the exceptional author you are with a wonderful way with words, but, your play on "losing to win" is practically infantile. Also, the whole "peeing on the constitution" reason... explain exactly how they are doing that, because monitoring the conversations of foreigners inside of our country communicating with people from known terrorist areas is NOT a violation of the Constitution. THOSE PEOPLE HAVE NO AMERICAN RIGHTS!!!

George W. Bush has done nothing as severe to the people in our country as did your democratic Golden Boy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Who, may I remind you, sent 12,000 Japanese to internment camps. As far as I can tell, all the mosques are still in working order, with Muslim people still roaming about freely.

William | November 7, 2006 09:21 PM

Luck to you all on the continent.
It's an Old Man's War over there by the sound of it, and even we here in New Zealand are waiting with baited breath.
It's an uphill battle, though, reading some of the comments.

Euan | November 7, 2006 09:43 PM

@Casey

"George W. Bush has done nothing as severe to the people in our country as did your democratic Golden Boy, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. "

On the other hand, of course, FDR actually won his war, which goes a long way . . .

mythago | November 7, 2006 11:34 PM

Hm.

Well, all right. Since you asked so nicely.

casey | November 7, 2006 11:54 PM

@euan

okay. so, according to Amnesty International, there is approximately 600 detainees taken from inside America... Your saying that if Dubya wins the war on terror, it would be cool with you if he took about 11,000 more, or so, in the process... ya know, just so we win?

also... remember that a lot of the Japanese were actually american citizens... which cant be said for the majority of detainees(this means they have no Constitutional rights. Like, access to our court system-wait the Supreme Court changed that... boy we americans suck)

mythago | November 8, 2006 12:29 AM

Also, the whole "peeing on the constitution" reason... explain exactly how they are doing that

You know, John has, in numerous posts. Even SCOTUS has told POTUS to back the hell off, Constitutionally speaking. Ask yourself this: would you be so quick to spew these talking points if it were President Hillary pulling this crap?

And man, if you have to reach back to FDR to play two-wrongs-make-a-right, you're so desperate you're making Fox News look like Smoove B.

Phillip J. Birmingham | November 8, 2006 12:30 AM

casey

also... remember that a lot of the Japanese were actually american citizens... which cant be said for the majority of detainees(this means they have no Constitutional rights.

Anybody who has actually read the Constitution knows that what you just wrote is ridiculous.

darren | November 8, 2006 01:00 AM

"THOSE PEOPLE HAVE NO AMERICAN RIGHTS!!!"

Well actually casey, "AMERICAN RIGHTS" seem to be your words, not the constitution's. The document I know makes reference to "inalienable human rights" but not "AMERICAN RIGHTS." Would you by chance be suggesting that only Americans are inalienabley human? If so, do you only count North Americans that were born and live in the United States, or do you also count North Americans that were born and live in Canada? What about all the Central and South Americans? Do they get to claim these "AMERICAN RIGHTS" of which you speak? More importantly, are you really this dumb, or do you just not think before you spew forth?

grhm | November 8, 2006 03:55 AM

Enlighten me someone...

When I visit you're country on my holidays (something that will inevitable occur as my kids reach Disney age/height), will I have the rights as enshrined in the constitution while I'm there?

Comandante Agi | November 8, 2006 09:19 AM

So, basically what your saying is...President Bush is the R. Kelly of politics.

John H | November 8, 2006 09:34 AM

So, basically what your saying is...President Bush is the R. Kelly of politics.

Thanks... {wipes spittle off computer screen}

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