Which candidate passes the Backyard Barbecue Test?

By Debra LoGuercio

©Copyright 2004, Debra LoGuercio, all rights reserved

Forget the politics, the parties, the platforms and the pundits. You don't need a political science degree to figure out which candidate will win the Democratic nomination. Elections aren't about logical, intelligent choices. They're about liking. We vote for the guy we like best. It's that simple.

Before you even think about arguing with me, let me mention two names: Bubba and the Gipper (which, by the way, would make a really cool buddy flick).

That should shut your pie-hole.

"Liking" isn't reasonable or rational. It's not a brain thing, it's a gut thing. How can you tell who you like best? Just do the Backyard Barbecue Test.

Imagine you're planning a backyard barbecue... warm, lazy summer evening... fat, sloppy ribs on the grill, big 'ole vat of potato salad on the picnic table, and a pony keg chillin' in a tub of ice. You'll be wearing your favorite blue jeans, the Jimmy Buffett CDs will be playing, and your best buddies are all coming over.

So. Which candidate do you want to invite? That's the one you'll vote for. Let's consider the choices.

Carol Mosely-Braun. Seems comfy as your own sneakers. Even better, she looks like she could put a dent in that pile of ribs, which is great because who wants to sit next to a size-2 Barbi doll sucking on a celery stick when there's mass quantities of charred animal parts to be consumed. Sadly, Carol dropped out of the race. Refused our invitation before we even had a chance to offer.

Dennis Kucinich. He's a vegan. Inviting a vegan to a barbecue is like bringing a whore to church. Everyone's uncomfortable. Let's invite Dennis to the Whole Earth Festival instead.

Al Sharpton. For sheer entertainment value, Sharpton has promise. Sure, he has that wacky celebrity-minister baggage, but the man says some of the most colorful, insightful, to-the-point things ever uttered on a campaign trail. Problem is, nobody at the party'd get a word in edgewise. Major party foul, my friend.

Joe Lieberman. The anti-Al. Sure, he talks just as much, but he's about as colorful as a sack of wet gym socks. I don't know about you, but if Lieberman cornered me at the snack table, I'd throw myself face-first into the bean dip just to end the misery.

Dick Gephart. We want weenies on the grill, not at the party. This is the guy who insisted he could be the Ruler of the Free World, going belly up at the first challenge in the Iowa caucuses? Running home to Mama because a handful of farmtown folk held up their hands for the other guys at the local Elks Lodge? Newborn kittens have bigger stones than that, even the ones with two X chromosomes. Gephart doesn't rank an invitation to the local pre-school potluck, let alone our really cool barbecue. Besides, he doesn't have eyebrows, and that makes us nervous.

John Kerry. Uh, a barbecue's supposed to be fun, remember? Kerry and fun go together like pancakes and ketchup. I doubt Kerry knows how to par-tay. He should stick to activities more suited to his personality, like funerals or DMV waiting lines.

Howard Dean. Oh come on -- someone'll say something stupid and Howie'll tear the dude's lungs out through his nostrils. You want the cops busting up the party before the Jello salad's even on the table? On the other hand, if we're having a WWF theme...

John Edwards. Ladies, say it with me: Oh YEEEEEESSSS. My my my. We'll be checking out Mr. Edwards every time the Missus isn't looking. God, I hope he wears a tank top. On the other hand, this may make our significant others a bit cranky. In the interest of domestic peace, we'd better leave John off the list.

Wesley Clark. Pleasant. Intelligent. Calm. Kinda cute too. Seems like a nice guy, someone we could kick back with on the patio and talk about world peace or whatever. DING DING DING. I think we have a winner, folks. Party on, Wes.

But that's just our party. What about the big block party next November? You know the rules -- only one extra person gets invited, and it's our guy or the neighbors'. They want to bring Dubya again. I certainly don't want him in my backyard, but for reasons I don't understand, everybody else seems to love the guy. And you know how it works -- majority rule.

We'll enjoy Wes while we can, because come the Big Bash next fall, we're gonna be stuck with Dubya again. So just grin and bear it. But I'm telling you right now, if he hollers "Don't mess with Texas" one more time, I'm stuffing a hamburger bun down his throat.

Another party with Dubya. Almost makes you want to stay home and watch "Joe Millionaire" instead. In reruns.

I'm not saying I like it. I'm just saying I think it will happen.