Dave Barry

THE GOP WANTS ME

October 14, 1990|By Dave Barry

Those of you who care deeply about America's future will be alarmed by the continuing efforts of high-level Republicans to recruit me as an influential national leader.

The method they're using is direct mail. As you may recallseveral months ago I reported that I had received a letter from U.S. Sen. Bob Dole, inviting me to join the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle, a prestigious group open only to those Americans who meet the rigorous entrance requirement of forking over $1,000.

Senator Dole's letter said that for an additional $285, I could go to Washington for a "closed-door briefing" with "key Washington officials," plus attend a dinner-dance with President and Mrs. Bush.

Needless to say I was severely tempted, because when high-level Republicans get together, they definitely know how to "party down" to their favorite "rap" tunes:

"I'm from the G-O-P, and I know how to dance,

I do the bunny hop in my lime-green pants.

I know how to boogie, I know how to jive,

I got a statue of a jockey at the end of my drive.

(Chorus:)

Feelin' so good, momma, feelin' so right;

Think I might fold my S&L tonight."

Unfortunately I was busy with various other obligations such as washing my dog, and I never got around to joining the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle. So you can imagine my surprise when, several weeks later, I got a letter from another Republican U.S. senator, Don Nickles. (True anecdote: President Reagan once publicly referred to Sen. Nickles as "Don Rickles." This caused much amusement because of course Don Rickles is not a senator. He is our ambassador to Iraq.)

Senator Nickles' letter invited me to join an even more exclusive group called the Presidential Roundtable, which is "made up of men and women, just like yourself, who have tremendous faith in the future of our nation and years of experience to share with our leaders."

This came as news to me, because almost all my years of experience involve trying to think up new booger jokes. It's hard to picture our leaders wanting me to share this with them, or even necessarily to shake hands. But as Senator Nickles says, "I wouldn't extend this invitation to you if I did not feel you were qualified to become a member."

What they are looking for, in the way of qualifications, is five grand. But it sounds like a heck of a deal. As Senator Nickles explains: " . . . the Presidential Roundtable operates much like a private club -- a club whose members meet, talk and dine with some of the most important people in the world . . . Presidents, U.S. Senators, Cabinet Officers, White House Officials, and some of the most important people in America today." For example, they're planning a golf outing with former President Gerald "Look Out!" Ford, a possible appearance by former President Dick "Dick" Nixon, and (I swear I am not making this up) "an elegant dinner at the Watergate Hotel."

Quite frankly this sounds like more fun than I would be able to stand without the aid of prescription drugs. But I was giving it some serious thought when I got a letter from another Republican U.S. senator, John Heinz, urging me to act quickly on Senator Nickles' offer. "I hope you are making plans to join us," he says.

By this point I was beginning to wonder whether these senators had anything to do in Washington aside from trying to get me to be in exclusive clubs with them. I was halfway expecting them to start sending me sweepstakes-style letters with pictures of Ed McMahon telling me that I might already have won a valuable prize such as a five-function LCD wristwatch or a working Stealth bomber.

"How desperate are they?" I was asking myself. "How low are they going to sink?"

This is when I got the letter from Vice President Quayle. I am still not making this up. "Dear Mr. Barry," the vice president begins. "It gives me great pleasure to inform you that at the last meeting of the membership committee of the Republican Senatorial Inner Circle, your name was placed in nomination by Senator Connie Mack and you were accepted for membership."

The vice president also states that "Arnold Schwarzenegger, George Shultz, Sam Walton, and other distinguished Americans have already joined the Inner Circle."

"I urge you to respond as soon as possible," he says.

Now I am really concerned. I am wondering:

*Does this mean I owe them money?

*Can high-level federal officials force me to be in their club?

*Could I possibly be appointed to the Cabinet via direct mail?

*If I don't respond to them, will I hear from an even higher-level official, in fact the most powerful Republican on the planet?

*Namely Arnold Schwarzenegger?

These are some of the questions I'm pondering as I await their next letter. Meanwhile, I've started reading the non-comics sections of the newspaper so I'll be prepared in case I wind up in charge of the foreign policy. Also I'm in the market for some lime-green pants.

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