In the Flea-on-an-Elephant Department, here's a story about some GOP Primary opponents for President Bush.
There will be 14 Republicans on the New Hampshire presidential primary ballot besides Bush. Among them are [Dick] Bosa, the former mayor of Berlin, N.H.; bricklayer Michael Callis; and Robert Haines, who could safely be described as a colorful character.
Each has a Web site, at least one die-hard supporter (wife, girlfriend, child, loyal employee), and $1,000, which is all you need in New Hampshire to file your bid (most states require a few thousand signatures).
Bosa showed up on the last possible filing date, Nov. 21, and paid his fee in coins, for reasons having to do with the hegemony of the Federal Reserve but also "because as a dark horse candidate, I have to make a splash."
"I'm more credible than (Wesley) Clark or Al Sharpton," he says, mentioning some of the Democrats running. "At least I was elected mayor."
Some of the candidates are on quixotic crusades that seem driven mainly by inner voices. Haines, for example, lists his issues as "national security," "the economy," "health care, of course." But after a while, he'll get around to the "Dark Side, OK ... the deliberate attempt by the Dark Side to infiltrate the church," he told the Dartmouth Review. (Haines was unavailable for comment, as he was serving time for a parole violation.)
For Callis, the central issue facing this nation is "Max Hugel," the CIA deputy director under President Reagan, and "the way the central intelligence agencies in this country have been conducting themselves."
Judged by effort, the most serious Republican candidates are Bosa and John Rigazio, a Rochester businessman who owns several variety stores that sell "cigarettes, alcohol, potato chips, juices, those kinds of things," says Claire Nugent, a cashier who moonlights as his spokeswoman and only campaign employee, because "I believe in everything he says."
For both, the central issue is the same: "Jobs, jobs, jobs," as Rigazio says; the loss of manufacturing jobs in New Hampshire and the nation, more broadly the neglect of the working stiff at the hands of "large worldwide corporations," more broadly still the triumph in America of a rich entitled blueblood class as embodied by Bush.
So, um, why are these guys running?
Underlying all these efforts is a certain seething irritation with Bush.
David Gosselin, former chairman of the state Republican Party, ran ads and started a Web site this fall calling for a Republican to challenge Bush in the primary. He has substantive disagreements with the president -- about the war in Iraq, his treatment of big business.
But mostly it comes down to "character," an issue that crystallized for him when he caught a ceremony on C-SPAN of an aircraft carrier being named for President George H.W. Bush.
"Arrogant," Gosselin says. "I have something against this princeling succession. I'm just sick of sons of rich kids running the country, and it's about time someone challenged them," although he adds the current crop of challengers is not "credible."