Monday, July 31

"I'm mindful of the Adams family factor," George W told the New York Times as he made his way through Ohio yesterday. We hope he was thinking of the last father and son to hold the nation's highest office and not the (likely) possibility that voters will find him creepy, kooky and altogether ooky.

But as convention week gets underway, ookiness is already evident wherever you look. The theme taking shape is not so much "Renewing America's Purpose" as "Redefining Ourselves in Whatever Way Seems Most Expedient." First John McCain claimed that "Governor Bush has been running exactly the sort of campaign I would be running" - which is true, if by "exactly" you mean "with a lot more money from the telecommunications and software industries"—then Dick Cheney got so carried away in attempting to distance himself from his record that he actually declared himself a government outsider. "When I look back at Washington," he said, "I scratch my head and ask what the hell are they doing back there?" So that explains the hair loss.

This is all, of course, a reflection of George W's current attempts to define himself in several starkly opposing ways at the same time, apparently in the hope that everyone will think he believes what they believe, and is just saying the other stuff to placate the people who believe something else. If you're confused, so, perhaps, was the delegate from Kansas who explained it to the Times this way: "Republicans are hungry enough that there is, to at least some degree, things that are all willing to overlook." Editing error or befuddled Kansan? You make the call.

One of tonight's big ticket speakers is George W's wife Laura, who, kookily, told the Times that she actually doesn't have anything to say. "I don't really even want to talk about issues that much," said Mrs. W. "I'm not that knowledgeable about most issues." But as long as she surrounds herself with smart advisers and learns to pick out Europe on a map, we think she'll make a fine president.

George W told a crowd yesterday, "I can't wait for America to meet my wife," but he might want to give her the latest talking points before she does. The spouse of a would-be populist probably shouldn't be saying things like, "And Daddy almost immediately pulled out his wallet and said, 'I'll send you to law school.'"

Indeed, there is much about Laura Bush's Times profile that is mysterious and spooky. When asked her favorite book she cites the "Grand Inquisitor" section of "The Brothers Karamazov." (George W, of course, favors the "Big Dog Party" section of "Go Dog Go.") But the most telling moment comes when her mother-in-law reveals that Laura's "great philosophy" is, "you can either like it or not, so you might as well like it."

Now that's a convention theme to rally around.

—Daniel Radosh

[ 100% True ]

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