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Burning Bush; Ghq News & The List That Wouldn’t Quit


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Jonah Goldberg

BURNING BUSH
Al Gore was on the stump in Texas yesterday. After attending a White House Empowerment Zone conference, he went to a rally where he pumped his fist in the air and chanted “fiesta!” “fiesta!” “fiesta!”

Well, that concludes today’s column.

Not really, but one wonders how to top such an image. Gore chanting “fiesta” is the political equivalent of a Dali painting, an Escher drawing, or an explanation by Janet Reno; it simply makes no sense on any level.

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Much is being made of Gore’s attempts to get out from underneath the shadow of his boss — a man known to chant “fiesta!” “fiesta!” “fiesta!” every time he unzips his fly.

But for all the pressure that is surely on Gore, few people talk about the pressure on his putative opponent, George W. Bush. Now, I simply assume this is one of my last columns about Bush before one of the giant peapods mimics my body in the middle of the night and I too begin chanting about how he is the man to make this the next American millennium. Let me be clear: I think the man is fine, but I’m missing the magic.

Clearly I’m in the minority, because the Bush momentum is staggering (quite a few readers have gotten persnickety with me about my failure to join the Bush herd). Earlier this week, America’s most over-rated governor, George Pataki, endorsed Bush to become the 17th governor to sign on. Strom “all man” Thurmond became the 9th senator. And something like half the Republican caucus in the House has endorsed Bush. He has brought on board Haley Barbour and Colin Powell and pretty soon the Pope and Spock; and word on the street has it that both Elvis and Bruce Lee are going to return from their self-imposed exile on a Pacific island to give GW the nod.

Bush’s Texas Mafia plays hardball so well they should go into the juke-box and waste-management business. Pols who hire on with Bush have to sign exclusivity deals. Endorsements are expected as a sign of respect. All quids must be up front, but pro quos are at the Bushies’ whim.

This is all fine if Bush is in fact Moses. If he ain’t, then there are going to be a lot of people who’ve been trooped out into the wilderness for no good reason. And they will be pissed.

Imagine the pressure. Here’s a guy — perfectly good governor in a state with a weak executive branch — the son of a one-term president who was wrongly kicked out of office in favor of Mr. Fiesta Pants. His dad — and many others — wants him to win as rectification for that wrong. He is leveraging the family name and probably his brother’s political ambitions. He’s hired scores of people with serious résumés who’ve staked their honor and reputations on him. He’s got so much money, his staff needs more people just to open the envelopes, which means people feel under-loved already for their contributions. He has twisted arms across the country. He’s made a lot of people swallow crap because of the expressed promise that he can deliver.

What if he can’t? There will be no one to blame but the man at the top of the ticket.

Gore’s real test is to lock up the Democratic nomination. If he can’t do that, he’s a bozo. But if he loses the general election, he’s got a zillion people and things to blame: Hillary’s campaign, Clinton fatigue, the VP curse. The economy can go south. Kosovo can go souther. Etc.

But Bush, Bush is being handed an already furnished pre-fab victory. The only missing ingredient to the stew is the beef, and to paraphrase Mr. Mondale, people want to know where it is. The candidate, ultimately, is everything. And the Bush voluptuaries, spinners, and finger-crossers notwithstanding, he has not proven that he can do the job. And, even if he can get it done, even if he’s the greatest thing since DiGiorno Rising Crust Pizza, he’s still human and he must feel the pressure.

If he doesn’t feel the pressure, he’s either the worst choice the Republican party can possibly make because he’s an idiot, or he’s the best candidate conceivable because he’s got the self-confidence and discipline to deliver the GOP out of the wilderness. I hope you people who say it’s the latter are right. Personally, I don’t see it. Yet.

GHQ NEWS & THE LIST THAT WOULDN’T QUIT
Big changes are afoot at the G-Files headquarters. Here they are in absolutely no particular order, since I’m writing this thing in one draft and very quickly because I am unbelievably hungry.

First, as many know, I’ve got the laptop, which allows me to write this column while these VERY NICE people read over my shoulder.

Second, as announced in today’s Hotline, the little lady has returned for good from Nashville. This has profound implications for me and the entire staff here at GFHQ. First, no more dispatches from the Big Middle for a while. Second, Baywatch viewing by me and the staff should drop off dramatically. Third, the vice-gripped muzzle that has kept me from speaking truth to power about Lamar Alexander has finally been loosened. Everyone here is excited about her arrival except some of the new life forms she has no respect for.

Third, I’ve actually got a couple of working gigs going so I can stop testing generic cough medicine and male fertility drugs (do you think I should have told the doctors I was on both protocols? I think I’m the only one who spontaneously grows breasts when he sneezes.). But, I’m still quite poor enough to flagrantly abuse my platform for personal gain. So: I’m still amenable to job offers, unsolicited cash, speaking engagements, and my pepper-snorting breastapalooza schtick is a nice addition to any travelling freak show.

Fourth, I’m going to Switzerland in a couple of weeks as part of a vital, important, necessary, and exceedingly paid-for junket. I will defend this trip to the point of straining even my journalistic standards. So, if anybody has any Switzerland-related G-File suggestions for me, I’m all ears.

Fifth, the Malaysian mail-order groom who runs the various pulleys and pneumatic tubes which make the Goldberg File go, will be taking a couple of days off next week because the INS has to interrogate him. I know he will be back because his tribe’s war god also grows breasts every time he sneezes and he greatly fears my wrath. Still, the File will not be here on Monday or Tuesday next week. If you don’t like it, send a pneumatic letter to NR Online. Not me.

Sixth, the television season is pretty much over, so I will have a lot more time to think about my column. On the other hand, with the little lady back in town, much of that time will be exhausted by my need to clean G-File headquarters. You know, trim the moss under the fridge, find the floor, etc.

Seventh, I really like making lists, so I’m going to try to keep this one going all the way to ten.

Eighth, I reported a couple of weeks ago that my plan was to do this writer thing until I could balance a whole Thanksgiving turkey on my belly while still sitting down, and then let it all ride at the liposuction clinic. Alas, it turns out, lipo is dangerous. So I have a new plan. The Times reports today that Americans are more successful than ever on the Japanese Sumo-wrestling circuit. You see where this is going, don’t you? That’s right, a leather thong, long hair, and TWO Thanksgiving turkeys.

Ninth, the couch has been bugging me to write one of those pages and binding things, what’re they called again? Right; a book. I think he’s nudging me because my quest for the Sumo thing is making his job harder. Still, expect me to hash out my bizarre theories, as well as my plaintive entreaties for a publisher, here in the G-File.

Tenth, tenth? Hmm, tenth. I know. Last night, National Review editor Richard Lowry was in town for the American Conservative Union dinner. I had drinks with him afterward. He accidentally stiffed me on the check. He’s apologized, but I think my honor requires more. Perhaps a billet for two on the National Review Baltic cruise? Why should Switzerland hog all of my journalistic rationalizations?



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