A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 192

A Burns-eye view of politics

Every four years New Hampshire transmogrifies into the twilight zone of primary election politics, and in 1992 over this spine-chilling stage creep 63 grotesques, not counting would-be vice presidents. Henry Wilson always excepted, of course.

Now, since the state's crumbled economy is more reminiscent of ash than granite, and as Farmington's official unemployment rate at 16.9 percent (really 25+ percent) is the most appalling in New Hampshire, wouldn't you think at least one of the 63 would favor the town with a visit?

A frustrated group of Farmington Democrats has beseeched several of the major campaigns to schedule a candidate's appearance, but so far their efforts have produced little fruit and a lot of "Nuts!"

Perhaps this wariness of coming to town can be traced back to Farmington Corner's election coverage of 1988. One column, entitled "Fly me to the moon," tried to convey to the average Bud drinker the true brilliance of Lyndon Larouche and his presidential vision. Somehow this literary (Huh! - Ed.) effort fell short although a postmortem revealed the cause. His message, his target for American economic focus, was not a lunar one at all but interplanetary - Mars, if I now recall Larouche's speech to high school students correctly. (Lyndon, incidentally, passed on regrets for his non-attendance in 1992 when I spoke by telephone to him in a federal pen in Rochester, Minnesota the other day.)

Then a second column covered the visit to Dumontsky's Restaurant by a major contender, and what a night of vintage twilight zone that was! All those swirling pieces of plastic alphabet on the menu board distracting one from the honored guest's recipe to save the U.S. Surely you didn't think it mere coincidence that the 31 letters of WELCOME TO FARMINGTON DICK GEPHARDT produced so many eerie coded messages? PTA CITED KNOWLEDGE OF MR HART COMING; DOGGED MAN WHOM RIFLE KIT CAN PROTECT; LAWMEN DEMOTE DRAG COP IN TIGHT FROCK, just to resurrect a trio. We're talking extremely scarey stuff here.

Maybe, that's why the leader of Farmington Democrats, Bill Tsiros (the man who organized the Gephardt trip) immediately switched over to the Republicans on being elected a state rep. the following year, notwithstanding his friendship with man-of-the-current-moment, Democratic party boss Chris Spirou. Maybe Farmington is jinxed. Could that be why every politician in the state is now giving us a body swerve? Possibly.

However, let's forget such spooky stuff and peek in on politics from a fresh angle. On Saturday, Jan. 25, old Rantin Ramgunshoch is staging his annual Rabbie Burns Supper and, with customary generosity, he has extended the hoary hand of welcome to a number of presidential aspirants. Compelling reasons exist why campaign managers should not allow their candidates to sail anywhere near this event. Being photographed alongside a highland piper may seem good for bagging the Scottish-American vote, but a Burns Supper is guarded by too many dangerous political reefs and sandbars. The Jagged Rock of Bawdiness. The Malt Whisky Coral Reef. The Shoal of Political Sincerity - plus Sirens on a good night. And this year Ramgunshoch has devised an even greater peril, The Grand Poetry Contest.

In 1795 it seems, just a year before his death, and at a time of enormous suffering for many Scottish people, Burns wrote a series of election ballads highly supportive of a Whig friend, Mr. Patrick Heron, and savaging the Tory slate so favored by rich aristocrats. It occurred to Ramgunshoch that a poetry competition might properly enquire of what Burns might write if he looked out over the New Hampshire landscape of 1992.

Here is an advance peek at my entry, complete with glossary, which hopes to capture Ramgunshoch's bottle of Talisker with a wee bittie help from the Bard himself.

Glossary: Trogging - n 1. Bartering, bargaining 2. Odds and ends 3. Rubbishy goods, insubstantial trash 4. Worthless specimens, riff-raff 5. Nefarious or illicit dealings

Braw = fine, siller = silver, ane = one, speir = ask, chiel = lad, sic = such, skiddle = move rapidly and lightly, unco laith = very loath, fowk = folk.


Wha Will Buy My Trogging?

(Tune - Buy Broom Besoms)

Wha will buy my trogging?

Fine election ware;

Broken trade of hucksters,

All in high repair.



Buy braw troggin

In the North Countrie;

Wha wants troggin

Let him come tae me.


Davie Duke's not cast his cowl

Intae the Grantite State;

An all-white population gies him

Naebody tae hate.

Buy braw toggin, etc.


Poor Agran and Fulani got

Excluded frae debate;

They wadnae lay their siller doon

On fuhrer Spirou's plate.

Buy braw troggin, etc.


Glitzy Billy Clinton gabbin

O' his health care plan.

Wi' his ane provider, speir,

Is he Prudential's man?

Buy braw troggin, etc.


Pat Buchanan's fuming at

Thon scand'lous New York Times;

He's just an anti-Semite chiel

When read between his lines.

Buy braw troggin, etc.


And shed nae tears for Wilder, tho

He's droppit oot the race;

Fast track tae the White Hoose?

Fie! We dinnae trust sic pace.

Buy braw troggin, etc.


Should Jolly Joker Kerrey

Ye try tae catch and grill,

He'll blithely skiddle roond the gaff,

Ye'll hook his brither, Bill.

Buy braw troggin, etc.


Geordie Bush at Cabletron

Tae fool us a' he shares

Five minutes wi' the workers,

Wha toil for millionaires.

Buy braw troggin, etc.


Now Harkin and his lawyer clique

Cry "Up the working man!";

But hard times ower in Farmington

They're unco laith tae scan.

Buy braw troggin, etc.


On pachyderms and donkey fowk,

Waste neither cash nor love;

Write in yon honest Nader's name,

And nane o' they above.

Buy braw trogging, etc.


Well, that's my shot for the Ramgunshoch whisky, but competition is usually stiff and I'm not confident. Last year I was beaten out by a puppet from Strafford, and the year before (worse still) by an Englishman. So here's a sneaky plan...sshhh...I will pay $3 for the finest election ballad to arrive in my hands by 5 p.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 23, provided I may borrow it. Plus, anything bitingly meritorious will be published. Send your entries to Election Ballad, c/o Rochester Courier, PO Box 1600, Wakefield St., Rochester, 03867.

January 18, 1992

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