CAWTHON'S CATHARSIS - Are Three Birds in the Hand Worth Two Bushes in Iraq?


By Jack Cawthon

We've all heard the old saying, "A bird in hand is worth two in the bush." If that adage is applied to West Virginia we certainly have both hands full. In the one hand we have the wise old Byrd in the Senate, and on the other hand, as country philosopher Randy Travis might say, we have two birds, both of them Jays, running for the Senate. So, we might ponder that three birds in hand might be worth two Bushes in Iraq. However, for my money I would stake it on the current burning Bush who is hot to get there.

I was making an audit of my life the other day in the fashion of generally unacceptable accounting procedures found on Wall Street, and I discovered that there is little difference in Jay Rockefeller and me, except maybe $100 million or so, give or take a few million. In fact, I outshine Jay in all the attributes of political advantages, including, if I do say so myself, mental abilities.

For instance, if I had several million dollars I wouldn't spend $10 or $12 million, or whatever the price tag at present, to achieve a seat in Congress. Doesn't that make me smarter right off the bat? Both Jay and Jim Humpreys shovel out the moola, although Jay seems to get more for his money if the purpose is to win elections. I'd take my multi-millions, buy a new Dakota pickup with part, and have the rest invested in something solid like Enron. I learned good money management from the economists I met in college, but I do have trouble balancing my checkbook (as most of them did).

Unlike Jay, I have the advantage of being born in the country up a dead end holler as far as one could stick a butcher knife. We dwelled in a partial log cabin, I walked two miles to a one-room school and our trips to Glenville 12 miles away consisted of four miles of mud-slush road navigated only by a Model A Ford with 21-inch wheels and chains. Right there, I have enough maybe not to equal Lincoln, but to come mighty close. However, one slight handicap (it was more than a challenge!) prevented me from choosing a career in politics: I was born to poor, but proud, REPUBLICAN parents. Not even Lincoln running on the Republican ticket could have been elected in Gilmer County.

However, even Republicans were rewarded every two years, as poll workers were required to represent both political parties. My dad welcomed the one-day opportunity, but he always come home upset because of crooked election procedures. The sheriff was generally called out, but, hey, guess who the sheriff was. Yeah, an elected Democrat. I'm sure he just smiled, winked and told the boys not to do it again, and he may have had a swig from the election flask or he may have been given a bottle of his own, as that was the standard reward for voting the right way.

But there was always a perk that I received as a little boy kid Republican. My dad always brought home for me a pencil used to mark the ballots. It was special with no eraser and a string attached to it. (That should have been a lesson that most things in life have a string attached, but I failed to perceive it.) I can brag about it now as the statute of limitations has expired, but if my dad had been caught by the Democrats he might have done 10 to 20, but it would have been one time when even a Republican was allowed in the Gilmer County court house, except, or course, for religious holidays.

Compared to the elections of the past the coming one isn't very exciting. I can go vote for one of the Jays, I'm not saying which one but it will be the blue one after the votes are counted, or I can vote for legislators, but up here in Mon County it's pretty much like Gilmer as everyone might as well be Calvinists, as the outcome is predestined.

There are two Amendments, which are about as exciting as the Jays running for office. West Virginians have learned to vote against all Amendments. Even if the Constitution is broken and needed amends, the citizens always come out even broker when it's fixed.

You hear all those talking heads telling everyone to vote. Lord help us if they ever do! We would be in even a worse mess than Florida. Why don't we all stay home and run up the per vote cost for Rockefeller and Humpreys? That may get us in the Guiness Book of Records, and West Virginia could get something for all that money.

Hur Herald from Sunny Cal
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