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Picking a president
Figuring out the U.S. presidential candidates

By Babak Yektafar
November 11, 1999
The Iranian

A McGuffin, as the immortal master filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock would say, is nothing but a ploy to move the plot along and make the questionable plausible. It is not, as you may think, a new breakfast offering from McDonalds. Take for example the classic Hitchcock film The 39 Steps where the entertaining Mr. Memory who has memorized secret British documents is about to be whisked away by Nazi agents. The secret was a McGuffin, and of no particular consequence except to move the plot along. In the hands of Woody Allen that secret became the recipe to the best tasting egg salad and it still moved the plot along. So a McGuffin, by definition is an interchangeable nothing.

All this has less to do with the 100th anniversary of Hitchcock's birthday than with this past summer's Iowa Straw Poll for U.S. presidential candidates, a clear indication that Hitchcock was on to something with his McGuffin. Stumbling upon the coverage of that great blockbuster of political shows, I invoked my rarely used executive privilege as the holder of the remote control in the absence of my wife, muted the audio and decided to zip right past the rhetoric and pick my choice of Republican candidates by their looks.

I realized I would have a problem voting for G.W. (as in Bush, though he has the best first initials for a candidate). I find his constant smirk discomforting, as if he is telling me "just wait 'til I'm elected". I don't want to take that chance.

Steve Forbes plain scares me. His political ads, shot in black and white, are meant to show him a man of sincerity and a man of issues. Instead they portray a lunatic in an empty room talking to an imaginary friend, or friends. Friends which may have disappeared mysteriously, having been seen last walking down a dark alley with Steve Forbes. He could be talking to the ghosts of those friends, or he could be vocalizing the "voices" in his head.

Gary Bauer looks too much like Mr. Bean. We have already gone through the Gerald Ford era, and I don't think another fumbling, bumbling president is the answer, whether he holds closed door meetings with his FEMALE aid or not.

John McCain was a no-show at the straw poll, but he seems to be a decent fellow. However, I fear that he will be too occupied recounting his Vietnam past to attend to the business of running the nation. I fear that he will experience a Nam flashback in the middle of a Cabinet meeting or worse yet while shaking hands with Yasir Arafat and Ehud Barak for yet another comprehensive Middle East Peace Treaty. No world leader may visit the White House during his presidency, just to avoid the uncomfortable feeling of having to comment for the 20th time on his stories of torture and sacrifice as a prisoner of war.

I had saved my best lines for Dan Quayle, but of course he somehow got wind of it and dropped out of the race. I must admit though that he would have made the most fascinating of presidents. True, the nation would be marching in the same spot with no forward momentum for four years but think of the fun we would all have marching to the beat of a drummer who is tone deaf and thinks that he is actually playing the violin.

Despite his rough and gruff and ultra conservative exterior, Pat Buchanan comes across as a cross dresser. I am not exactly sure why, but every time I see him, I envision him wearing matching fur rimmed hot pink panties and bra. Please note that I said "envision" and not "dream of." After all, I do draw a line even when it comes to my imagination.

That brings me to Elizabeth "Libby" Dole. I believe she would have made a great president simply because she would have had her way through sheer intimidation. That eternal open-mouthed smile (just like The Joker) does not fool me. It terrorizes me. She reminds me of the grandmother you dreaded to visit because she embossed her fingerprints on your cheeks trying to pinch them. The grandmother who insisted on feeding you extra servings of her homemade apple pie which she believed was your favorite dessert and which was baked to drywall consistency and tasted even worse.

She could have been the kind of president that ALL world leaders would come to visit, just as they would have to visit their grandmother. And she would make them eat their broccoli and drink ovaltine during state dinners. But now that she has dropped out (another indication of the value of the Iowa Straw Poll where she impressively finished in third place), I will break down and pay for a pay-per-view, WWF-sponsored steel cage, celebrity death match of the century between her and Hillary Clinton with Rudolf Giuliani and Jesse Ventura as the referees. I can see Giuliani making biased calls against Hillary which would then provoke the liberal section of the crowd to throw elephant dung at him, and Jesse (not "The Rainbow Coalition" Jackson, but "The Body" Ventura) stirring the Christian Coalition and the "weak minded" section by walking on crutches.

Speaking of elephant dung, WWF or any other circus act, Lyndon LaRouche is making his quadrennial run for the presidency. Although I question his choice of running as a candidate for the Democratic Party when the current make up of the Reform Party is tailor-made for someone of his magnetic albeit serious personality. He may have a difficult battle ahead with Donald Trump since he has not dated better looking women than the old swinger, but he has just been released from jail where his amorous choices were severely limited.

Also, The Donald may have dated better looking women, but when it comes down to marrying them, well there is a point on which LaRouche can debate the man with an orange-colored wire mesh for hair. Of course all that jail business for LaRouche was a conspiracy of the highest magnitude. I hope that once elected as the President of The United States, which he certainly will be, an independent council will be tasked with finding the truth and while at it, they can also look into his other theory on Prince Philip's role in ordering the hit on Princess Di. And the secret code with which Orson Wells was trying to convey nuclear secrets to the Mongolian Herdsman as he repeated the word "Rosebud" at the end of his undeservedly acclaimed propaganda film, Citizen Kane.

Speaking of movies, the latest word is that Warren Beatty has formed an exploratory committee to explore the many ways one can pronounce the word "VANITY" before deciding on declaring his candidacy. Moving away from the left and towards the center you can call him Al Gore, or Albert Gore Jr. or Al. Anyway you want to call him or reform him, he is who he is even in Nashville, Tennessee, where he has just moved his campaign headquarters to stave off an eyebrow raising surge in the polls by Bill Bradley.

Al's change of clothing into a more casual Izods and jeans has not exactly turned him into one of the Gap Kids. Even my mother, who has just arrived from the old country, has dismissed him as a possible future president due to his lack of character and flirtation abilities, despite his eight-year education by the Mark McGuire of flirtation. My mother doesn't seem to care much about the president's sexual scandals, although she did ask me what a "thong" was and why was Monica wearing it. I had to tell her it was a misspelling and the actual word is "thang" which is not only a slang, but a hip blue tank top worn by today's ambitious young ladies.

Bill Bradley, despite his genial guise, is too tall to be a president. He is gawky and awkward. I believe there should be height and weight limitations for presidential candidates so that we are all spared the agony of inventing bogus reasons for dismissing sound and credible individuals simply because of their appearance.

One last note on a certain Mr. Rob Sobhani. Mr. Sobhani, a registered Republican has declared his candidacy for the United States Senate from the state of Maryland. He intends to be the first Iranian-American to be elected to the Senate, and he is appealing to this minority to vote for him for that reason, if nothing else.

In all fairness, I don't know his platform. I do not know what his agenda is, but I raised this question on my weekly radio show "The Silk Road", and I would like to put it to you. Is it more important for us as a minority to vote for a candidate who may open the door for others to follow, or should we concentrate on candidates who address our concerns and issues, regardless of their ethnicity?

While you contemplate, allow me to bid you farewell and once more wish Alfred Hitchcock a happy 100th anniversary of his birth. And what better place (with the exception of Iowa) to celebrate it than the movie heaven.

Babak Yektafar is the producer and host of Iranian radio & TV programs in Fairfax County, Virginia (See He is also a produer of CSPAN's "Washington Journal" program.

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