by Molly Ivins
Uh-oh,now we are in the suds. I started out wondering why no one would point out the obvious about W. Bush's dreadful performance in the Republican presidential candidate debates. Then someone did, and then everyone else did, and the whole pack is baying after the poor man.
Good on Gail Collins of The New York Times, who wrote a tart, cheeky column about the fact that W. sounded like the perfect vice presidential candidate for Dan Quayle. (Cheap shot!) OK, so she took a couple of cheap shots; I've been known to do so myself. I often regret them, but I'm sure in no position to point that finger at anyone else.
Nevertheless, you may be interested in the lead of a column I wrote several days ago but was unable to finish due to circumstances beyond my control:
"Why is everyone being so mealy-mouthed about George W. Bush's performance in the Republican debate Monday night? Face it, he was awful. Not just compared to the other candidates, but compared to his own usual self.
"We've got some state pride invested in this -- if Dubya was normally that bad, Texans would have noticed by now, and he would not be the popular governor he is. Dubya may not be the brightest porch light on the block, but he does have a winning personality. It was just not in evidence Monday night."
I went on to offer some good-faith advice to Bush, although it has since occurred to me that the Bushies would only regard it as a Trojan horse. But now that the Bush-is-a-smirking-dummy chorus is rising up from most of the me-too-ers in the Washington swamp, it's commenced to get my Texas dander up.
Watching the media pack turn on a candidate is even more sickening than watching it build an amiable -- but distinctly unbrilliant -- fellow with a very slender resume into some towering political titan who will inevitably become the next president of the United States. Even those trying to defend him get it wrong. Some man from The Washington Post was on TV saying, "Well, he's the governor of an important state, so he must have some heft."
Oh, hell, the governor of Texas dudn't amount to do-squat -- or, as Cactus Jack Garner once put it, a bucket of warm spit. Could I make a suggestion here? Why don't y'all come on down here, do some reporting (remember reporting?) and then see what you conclude about the man?
The Republicans, it seems to me, have a peculiar political party (as opposed to the Democrats, who have yet to organize one). The R's tend to be quite hierarchical, much given to obeying the commands of the party elders and the deep pockets. Their Powers anointed Bush the Chosen Candidate and now expect obedient Republicans to ratify that decision. But they're ignoring a far stronger candidate.
Frankly, John McCain is the Democrats' worst nightmare -- there goes every independent vote in the country. If the R's want to win next year, they should kick up their heels and misbehave a bit at the polls.
The Democrats, who are more accustomed to misbehaving, should probably do the same thing -- Bill Bradley looks like a better bet to me. Although I think Al Gore has an advantage that's being discounted: familiarity. Many of the same brilliant pundits who have been assuring us of the inevitability of Bush think that people are tired of the whole Clinton administration and want to see new faces. But there's something soothing about Gore's familiar, leaden drone.
December 16, 1999 (http://www.monitor.net/monitor) All Rights Reserved. Contact email@example.com for permission to use in any format.
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