Gary Harmon Column October 09, 2008

Dear senators: Here’s how you can win the West

Dear senators:

Can we hold off on the “President Obama” until Jan. 20, if just for form’s sake?

And no, senator, “Sarah’s Arizona sugar-daddy” won’t cut it either. What, you didn’t actually see Todd?

The guy wrestles the moose before Sarah field-dresses them.

Neither of you has asked directly, but it’s pretty clear you both want to know what it takes to win in western Colorado.

Let’s start with the obvious.

You two have so far displayed all the grace and aplomb of an armored-up armadillo on the L tracks, if we can mix a couple local metaphors familiar to you both.

Sen. McCain, you of all people should know that the Colorado River is the third rail of Western politics, especially that of western Colorado. A swift glance at a map would tell you that Arizona’s water flows through Fruita first.

Dipping a toe in the Colorado makes reforming Social Security look positively tame by comparison.

You’d be better off proposing a statue of George W. Bush in downtown San Francisco than even hinting at reallocating Colorado River water.

Don’t snicker there, Sen. Obama.

You’re the same guy who derided Sarah Palin as having no experience because she had been the mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, pop. 6,000 (and that’s giving it credit).

By your standards, Denver is a small town. By the standards of a lot of western Colorado, any burg that claims 6,000 residents, a plurality of them two-legged, qualifies as the big city.

As much as Sarah Palin might enjoy popping polar bears, western Coloradans consider recalling mayors to be the sport that fills in the long months between the Super Bowl and preseason football. Any mayor who can survive the summer has their respect, which isn’t to say they don’t eye the empty space on the mantel for a new political trophy come February.

Cutting to the chase, Sen. Obama, you’re not going to win western Colorado.

You know that already, of course. The idea is to win the state and key to that is minimizing losses west of the Continental Divide.

So, Sen. McCain, you have made a relatively easy job substantially more difficult.

So, what to do?

Sen. McCain, the easy answer is: Send Sarah.

It wouldn’t hurt if she brought along a fresh-water pipeline from the Frozen North, of course, but practical western Colorado types aren’t expecting that.

Sen. Obama, you could offer a pipeline from Lake Michigan, but no one’s actually asking for that either.

Not that we’d turn either one down, just so we’re clear.

What’s left of October is hunting season, but we don’t advise either of you to show up in blaze orange.

Some things strain credulity, like John Kerry talking about Vietnam (“Good times, good times”) or Dick Cheney teaching hunter safety (Duck!)

What might fly is some commitment to the notion that the people who grow up in western Colorado ought to have the opportunity to carve out lives in western Colorado.

That’s no simple promise, but recognizing it is an important issue can’t hurt.

Hell, it would beat what we get from Denver.


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