No More Mr. Mean Guy

After years of playing political hardball, Ron Gunzburger says he wants to take a softer approach with his nationally known Website

Gunzburger has now turned his energies to Politics1. The site is crystal meth for political junkies. It contains information not only about the Gores and Bushes of presidential politics but on slightly less familiar candidates for the top office in the land. Such as Jack Grimes, an independent who bills himself as the "Leader and Director of the United Fascist Union" and wants to restore a new world order based on the governmental style of Imperial Rome. Or Clifford R. Catton, another independent, who is making a second bid for the White House. According to Catton, he is running for President because postal employees have been stealing his mail, suppressing his "First Amendment rights to raise up a NEW Christian denomination."

In all, Politics1 details the ideologies and presidential prospects of more than 250 potential candidates (including some 47 Democrats and 59 Republicans), the vast majority of whom you're never going to hear about from Cokie Roberts. House and Senate races are sketched out in equally excruciating detail.

Gunzburger, an avowed political junkie himself, contends that his motivation for highlighting the fringe candidates of presidential politics is more than just laughs. "If you just listened to the ideas coming from the major parties' front-runners, the chances of hearing an original thought are few and far between," Gunzburger notes. "So we get this bland mélange of recycled ideas, and it disserves a republic that that is the only discussion of ideas." Gunzburger points out that social security was an idea originally generated by socialists and that many of the ideas in the Republicans' "Contract With America" were first floated by the libertarian Cato Institute.

I saw the light: Ron Gunzburger says he has disavowed the dirty politics of his past
Sherri Cohen
I saw the light: Ron Gunzburger says he has disavowed the dirty politics of his past

The site has also, according to Gunzburger, attracted the attention of several large media companies (though he won't say which ones) interested in purchasing Politics1. Although the site presently loses money, Gunzburger expects eventually to cash in on his labor. "Is it a business?" he asks. "Yes, it is a business. And do I expect to make a respectable amount of money on this? Yes, I do."

Later the same day, Gunzburger is stirring the local political pot at the Embassy Suites in Fort Lauderdale. The occasion is the annual election of officers for the Dolphin Democratic Club, Broward County's oldest gay political organization.

While Gunzburger is openly gay, that makes his nomination from the floor for the post of president no less surprising for the crowd of about 80. Gunzburger rarely attends Dolphin meetings and over the years has flitted back and forth between the Republican and Democratic parties. Pictures of Presidents Reagan and Bush adorn his office. He describes himself as a "compassionate libertarian" and has little truck for knee-jerk liberalism.

But that doesn't stop him from giving the Dolphins a dressing-down this evening with what he calls his "Howard Beale/angry man" act. Over the last year or so, the Dolphins have more often resembled a group of squabbling four-year-olds than a political organization. Infighting among board members has paralyzed the group, and membership has dropped.

"Actually I wasn't even planning to come tonight until I got the newsletter," Gunzburger begins his speech for president, brandishing a copy of the Dolphin club's newsletter. Inside the pamphlet, Gunzburger points out, is a scorecard for board members. All the trustees aligned with the present leadership received grades of A or A+ for their conduct. Everyone aligned with the opposition camp received a grade of F or F-.

Gunzburger condemns the petty bickering and invokes the past glories of the Dolphin club. Then, having made his point, he withdraws his nomination for president. "It's time to start the healing that's needed and stop the little personality fights," Gunzburger declares. He leaves the stage to applause and catcalls.

The wise sage Obi-Wan Kenobi has, for now, spread peace among the Dolphins.

Contact Paul Demko at his e-mail address:

paul.demko@newtimesbpb.com

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