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Tom West: Which candidate has God on his side?

But now we got weapons Of the chemical dust If fire them we're forced to Then fire them we must One push of the button And a shot the world wide And you never ask questions When God's on your side. -- Bob Dylan "With God on Our Side" I've been th...

But now we got weapons

Of the chemical dust

If fire them we're forced to

Then fire them we must

One push of the button

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And a shot the world wide

And you never ask questions

When God's on your side.

-- Bob Dylan

"With God on Our Side"

I've been thinking about Bob Dylan's Sixties' anti-war anthem lately, what with all the natural phenomena taking place around the nation.

A friend recently sent an e-mail -- the kind that get posted at water coolers all across this great land whenever something happens that we don't understand and thus need to laugh at -- showing the paths of the four hurricanes that hit Florida this year. According to the cartoonish map, the eyes of the hurricane passed over only those counties carried by George Bush in 2000. Even where the corners of four counties met at one spot and the two pro-Bush counties were kitty-corner to each other, the eye of the hurricane went directly over that spot.

The obvious implication was that God is punishing those parts of Florida that voted for Bush -- the message being that if Floridians want to be spared in the future, they better vote Democrat.

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It brought a chuckle in this humorless campaign, but to take the analogy one step further, Mount St. Helen's in Washington state is getting ready to blow its gasket.

In case you didn't know, the Pacific Northwest is Kerry country. Kerry leads in the polls in Washington by about 10 percent and in Oregon by about 4 percent.

So if God is telling Floridians to vote for Kerry, he must be telling Washingtonians to vote for Bush. About all I can tell from that is that God must have a sense of humor.

If God visits equal-opportunity plagues on both Democrats and Republicans, what does that tell us? That, in 2004, God prefers Islam? Maybe it's just my pro-American bias, but I have a hard time believing that -- in particular because most Muslim's don't seem to be at war with America. It's only a small contingent that are wreaking all the havoc.

Still, Dylan's old anthem holds a haunting refrain. As this election boils down to what is sure to be a frustratingly narrow victory or a bitter defeat, voters need to determine who best will keep the "chemical dust" from coming to America. Which candidate is the most likely to be confrontational, and, for that matter, is confrontation good or bad? Forget about Iraq, who is most likely to rein in Iran and North Korea? And who is most likely to avoid a holocaust without surrendering?

Dylan raised his question in a simpler time. Even though 95 percent of us have already decided how we intend to vote, we all need to think long and hard about those questions so we, indeed, choose the candidate with God on his side.

    For those of you curious about how things are really going in the presidential election, the national media is doing you a disservice by telling you how the candidates are doing in nationwide polling. A presidential election is actually 51 separate ballotings that create the Electoral College.
    This election is boiling down to six states that -- barring an unforeseen shift in the next three weeks -- include Oregon, New Mexico, Iowa, Ohio, New Hampshire and our own Minnesota.

    If Bush carries any of those except New Hampshire (not enough electoral votes to carry him over the top), the polls indicate that he will retain the presidency.

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    However, I don't know that Bush can carry any of those states. Ohio in particular is key because the polls had been trending toward Bush until the first debate. Now it is back to almost even.

    Bush also has a good chance in Iowa, but both New Mexico and Oregon have been leaning toward Kerry all year.

    I have been telling friends that in spite of the pro-DFL bias of Minnesota polls (for more than 30 years the actual results have always been about 5 percent more Republican than the polls have shown), I believe Kerry will carry this state because of the major voter registration efforts undertaken by the DFL and independent liberal groups. Voter turnout will be key.

    If I were Kerry and Bush, I'd be spending 90 percent of my post-debate time in Ohio, Minnesota and Iowa. I'll be amazed if we don't see Kerry in Duluth before this campaign is over.

    For that matter, I expect a general influx of cabinet officials and Democratic luminaries to swamp our state in the next few weeks.

    Tom West is the editor and publisher of the Budgeteer News. He may be reached by telephone at 723-1207 or by e-mail at tom.west@duluth.com .

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