Road Show

Want to know more about Jeb Bush? The machinations of Florida's Republican party? Vomiting? Get on the bus.

Our host, Angela Saviano, joins Brett Doster and me at a corner table near the kitchen. She is blessed with both manners and style, and is clearly an educated woman, which makes our conversation all the more strange. She is discussing the problems of our society, and specifically her views on juvenile justice. What would be so horrible, she asks, if we tarred and feathered some of these hoodlums? I laugh, but soon realize she's not joking. Would it really be so wrong? she asks. Or what about placing them in leg and arm restraints, she suggests, like the pillories that held ne'er-do-wells in old New England town squares. They could be displayed somewhere publicly for a couple of days, she suggests, so their girlfriends could come by and laugh at them. Essentially, she explains, we must find ways to humiliate these children publicly, to ridicule them so they learn the difference between right and wrong.

Another guest at the party bemoans the unfettered immigration that is dooming Florida. "The whole country is going into the toilet," she complains. "They are coming here from Haiti and Cuba and just settling here. They don't even have to speak English."

Shortly after 9:00 p.m., Bush is called on to speak. Standing alongside the Savianos swimming pool, bathed only in the light of a full moon, he launches into his standard speech. "I'm a Republican and I'm a pretty conservative man," he tells those who have gathered around. "And when I look into the future through my children's eyes, I see decline."

He finishes, as he does every speech, with what he refers to as his "call to arms," a pledge for a revolution in 1995 if he is elected. "If you stay involved, it will happen," he promises. "Look at the alternatives if you stand pat. If you do your part, I will vow to you that I will stay focused on the principles that I believe and I will govern based on those principles. And I will fight as hard as I humanly can fight to make these dreams come true."

By 9:30 we are on the road. Doster behind the wheel, me riding shotgun, and Jeb and Columba in the back seat. Bush begins to melt into the seat. "Brutal day," he groans. "I'm a tired little candidate." Before we reach I-95, however, we encounter a half-naked man dancing in the middle of an intersection. Over and over he yells, "Watch yourself! Watch yourself!" as a cop by the curb tries to coax him out of the street. Bush perks up at this impromptu bit of street theater. "He's all fucked up," Bush laughs. "Look at him." The man dances, barefoot, up to the front of the minivan, stares in, and then runs off.

On the interstate Bush makes a few last calls: "I think we had a good week..." and pauses to needle Doster. "I've never seen you drive so slow," he chides the Citadel grad, who is doing 55.

"Jebbie!" Columba says. "You're terrible."
"I'm serious," he continues. "These boys are battle-tested. They know what I want."

Doster punches it up to 80 and Bush gets back on the phone. "I'm not going to do anything but go to church tomorrow," he says. "And if I work at all, I'm going to work in bed."

To take me home, we get off at the NW 79th Street exit. "Do we have the doors locked?" Bush asks. Heading east on 79th, we approach the INS headquarters at Biscayne Boulevard. "It's a Kafka novel in there," he remarks. "They treat people like dirt." Crossing the causeway, Bush points out the city's skyline for Doster, who has never been to Miami. He then offers a few final thoughts about the trip. "I think we're taking things to another level," he says. "After a year of being out there, the campaign has really started now."

Doster pulls up to my building and Bush pats me on the back. "I'm glad you came," he says. "It made it more enjoyable." I give him a New Times cap, which he gamely puts on as Doster snaps our picture. And then they're off.

Watching them drive away, I give a little wave. "See you at the inauguration," I yell. "And like the man says, 'Watch yourself! Watch yourself!'''

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