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Giles Slade Headshot

Tit for Tat

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In the run-up to the federal election, signs of the republican's self-confidence are, to paraphrase Pete Townsend, 'f-f-f-fading away'.

But let me regroup: sometimes I write favorably about Condi Rice and then people wonder why I like her so much. 'Do you think she's hot?' one reader wondered. What to say?

Look. Let's give an intelligent woman her due. With the exception of Governor Arnold, she is the only nationally visible Republican who hasn't spilled soup on herself during the past eight years. Today, in the nation's capital soup stains have become almost de rigeur in the fashionable restaurants where lobbyists hand over bags of cash and destinies are traded. Sometimes these unsightly soup stains are followed by prison terms, but mostly they're sported like clubby badges of dishonor among snickering old school pols who point them out when the time comes for cigars and coffee. Cheney's collected a few, and if you look closely, John McCain's is cunningly obscured by a napkin. Of course, George now has so many it's hard to tell the color of his jacket or his pants.

Condi, however, was raised right and does NOT care for soup stains. Basically, I think the woman's honest. It's true, her politics stink, and she still has the disastrous dress sense of an academic who's getting bad advice from someone obsessed with Reagan-era twinsets and pearls. (Why do female politicians always dress so dumpy? Hillary in those pantsuits she's so proud of. Laura Bush. Cindy McCain. Sarah Palin. Oi! --Why don't Washington women phone Carla Bruni?)

Nonetheless, Condi is always pulled together. She ain't ever coming apart. Stressed and strained during the Ossetia crisis, she looked like a expensively dressed conservative woman in urgent need of sleep. That was the worst of it. The fate of the free world was hanging in the balance. She'd been working hard all night and should have combed her hair a bit. --Presidential! Concerned! Good electoral material. A black woman! Tit for tat.

But, hells bells, Condi doesn't need any job that will cost her her dignity. Stanford loves her. Pretty soon she's going back home to sea-breezes and wine-and-cheeses in Paolo Alto.

So now, in the aftermath of Condi's complete indifference to the vice-presidency, the slot --which absolutely must go to a woman during this minutely tit-for-tat year-- has gone to an unknown female, fundie, reformer who -yes, this is what John McCain guesses--will offer 'choice' (ha ha) to those Republicans who are sick of corruption, eager for change, and desperate to support a woman (even if that woman is not currently running).

Senator Lieberman will then help to establish that this new brand of republican "choice" is bi-partisan and inclusive in order to help disaffected democrats vote and marginal republicans vote safely for a non-democrat. It is an election strategy that guesses it will be a very close race, and it might actually fool the stupid. But listen carefully: the republicans have brazenly declared that vegetarians can now eat meat...as long as they chew it carefully.

Honest to God, John McCain's election strategy is to fool some of the people, some of the time! --You'd be right in thinking, he has not been paying attention.

Well now, the eligible female vacuum left by Condi has sucked in Governor Palin. If she loses, no problem. She has already won personally since this race has raised her profile (and Bristol's) to the national level. In the lower 48, no one knew her before last Friday. Now everyone knows she's going to be a granny. But it was simply McCain's profound lack of other choices that forced him to settle on a grandmother who might rival Nancy Pelosi. (Tit for Tat). No other nationally-known female candidate wanted the job badly enough to be tainted by a doomed ticket.

Speaking of taint and doom, where was the bull-goose Soupstain during the convention? Well, like Condi Rice, Republicans are being very careful about who they associate with these days. Neither the lesser Bush nor Mr. Cheney attended John McCain's investiture. They were preoccupied with the sinister and threatening Hurricane Gustav and its aftermath. These ducks were too busy...Quack...Far-too-busy...Quack quack...Too-busy-by-far...Quack-quack-quack...to attend a public event where no matter where they go everyone else will immediately scurry to the other side of the room.

George phoned in his address at 9:30 am on Tuesday. Did you miss it, too? (Well, did you also notice that Governor Arnold was too busy to associate with his own party? --And everybody thought he was a dumb jock!)

Well, all this un-prettiness is what happens whenever 'political capital' goes into the red.

The president is the kid with cooties. No one in the playground wants to be near him. For months I've been wondering where he will go in 2009. Condi, smart girl, has kept Stanford in her back pocket like a 'get out of jail' card. Cheney can spin back to Halliburton. Lieberman will undoubtedly continue as a Senator, and Governor Arnold will become Mayor of L.A. But what's left for George beyond a ghostwritten memoir and endless games of Risk with daddy?

You're right again. Nobody cares.

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