It tolls for the Prairie Dogg and congressional candidate Kris Kobach.

For Whom the (Wedding) Bell Tolls 

It tolls for the Prairie Dogg and congressional candidate Kris Kobach.

"Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to join together this man and this man in holy matrimony. If any person harbors any reason why they shouldn't be wed, let them speak now or forever hold their peace."

Um ... padre?

"Yes, my son?"

I realize that I'm the one getting married here -- so believe me, I have no objections -- but I think I should explain to the congregation just exactly how I have come to stand at this altar next to you and my lover. (You look so handsome, sweetie.)

"Whatever. It's your hour."


Wow, this is awkward, huh? I know a lot of you think we're young and foolish, that this is too fast. Well, we are and it is, but love knows no rationale. Less than a week ago, I was just another cynical saboteur for Liberal Media Bias Inc. on my way to a concert at The Granada in Lawrence with my tree-hugging sensibilities poised to wreak havoc.

Kris Kobach was, after all, an easy target for my invective. The esteemed University of Missouri-Kansas City law professor, Harvard, Oxford and Yale graduate, former counsel to John Ashcroft and occasional pundit for Bill O'Reilly is running against Rep. Dennis Moore for the 3rd District congressional seat as a pro-gun, anti-abortion, anti-immigration "commonsense conservative," a description that scores better with swing voters than "gun-toting homophobe."

I was nonetheless impressed that Mr. Right was embracing a tactic -- the concert rally -- utilized by the left for shows both subtle (Rock the Vote, Rap the Vote, Vote for Change) and less so (Beauty Slays the Beast, Rock Against Bush, Fuck Bush). Kobach had even enlisted area bands Lipriddle, Sooner or Later, New Memphis and Roister Harbinger for his cause.

Not that I thought it would do him any good. The typical college crowd is a tough sell for conservatives, but especially on a Saturday night. Homecoming night. The night, in short, when teens would just as soon castrate themselves with a plastic fork than attend a rally concert.

I figured a Republican concert would largely consist of a lot of old, chubby white dudes swilling scotch and complaining about how their pool boy can't speak English while somebody plays "God Bless the U.S.A." over and over.

Of course, it wasn't anything like that.

"Are y'all ready to rock?" a perky young woman with a Southern drawl yelled. "Come on, I can't hear you!"

I couldn't imagine why not. Unless it was because there wasn't really anybody around to shout back.

But that didn't stop Roister Harbinger from bouncing onto the stage to deliver a peppy set to the sparse crowd. The quartet cooed, There's a punch line to this joke.

But I still didn't get it.

Then Kobach arrived. And the angels sang.

He was dreamy, a chiseled hunk of man with a firm jaw and firmer principles who was only some puka shells and a pair of flip-flops away from being the Kappa Sigma social chair. He proceeded to make mildly lame allusions to his campaign as a football team and his staffers as his band members. Then he said:

"On November 2, when Dan Rather is announcing that the president has won -- you know Dan Rather, the man who put the BS in CBS -- he's [also] going to be talking about the 3rd District race in Kansas."

But all I could think about was stuffing Kobach's ballot box. It didn't matter that both Kobach and I were married -- to women. He was going to make an honest man out of me.

"We are proud to be rockin' for Kobach tonight," New Memphis lead singer Joel Hines said. "I know what he stands for ... [and] conviction is one of the most admirable traits today."

Then the band launched into a cover of Radiohead's "Motion Picture Soundtrack," which includes the apt refrain I think you're crazy, maybe. There weren't more than sixty people on hand at any given time, and I figured at least twenty of them were in a back room torturing Greenpeace activists with straight razors.

Kobach worked the room. Chatting, smiling, shaking hands, kissing babies and sipping from a plastic cup filled with clear liquid. If it was straight gin, he had my vote. If it was water, he was a candy ass. If it was spritzer, hell-o.

While he was politicking, the bands kept playing competent pop-rock. The best came from Sooner or Later, an Olathe trio that served up a spirited set of something resembling punk, if Christian rock bands who play conservative political rallies can be allowed within 100 yards of the word.

The band even inspired an enthusiastic five-person mosh pit as the lead singer leaped off the drum riser and the drummer threw his sticks into the crowd, or at least where the crowd would have been if, in fact, there had been a crowd. But by the time Lipriddle unleashed its relentlessly upbeat "funk rock," just shy of midnight, most people had taken their Kobach lawn signs and gone home, including the man himself.

I'd like to say the night ended with Kobach wearing nothing but chaps and a sailor's hat as he chugged a fifth of Malibu and sang "Oops! I Did It Again" before biting the head off of an abortion doctor, but it didn't. Nobody got out of hand. A few people in the crowd drank, but nobody was drunk.

Sigh. Conservatives.

When I ambled outside, Massachusetts Street circa 1 a.m. was teeming with young, giddy drunks, and I knew then that I wouldn't vote for Kobach.

"I see. Well, why are you marrying him?"

Our connection was deep, electric and immediate. I knew we were destined to spend the rest of our lives knitting sweaters, spooning on the couch and gossiping about what a queen Ricky Martin is.

"Uh-huh. OK, let's get this over with fast. Do you take Kris Kobach to be your husband, to love, comfort and honor in sickness and health, for richer or poorer, for better or worse, as long as you live?"

I do.


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