Believe it or not, the Republicans are a bit confused

Mike Royko

August 05, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

"Everything's upside down," said Slats Grobnik.

Then I don't think the barkeep should let you have another one.

"No, I mean in this election. We got Democrats acting like Republicans."

You mean because they are now embracing middle-class, middle-American, middle-of-the-road values while keeping the radical groups under wraps?

"More than that. They're acting like they planned their campaigns further ahead than breakfast. I mean, they're organized. That's the way the Republicans always did it. But now the Republicans are as goofed up as the Democrats used to be."

Yes, there does seem to be a certain amount of confusion.

"It's crazier than that. Did you see what Dan Quayle's wife did to him? The most awful thing a woman can do to her husband."

She slipped poison into his meatloaf?

"Worse than that. You know how a guy'll be telling a story at a party, and just when he gets to the punch line, his wife cuts in and says: 'No, that's not how it happened.' And he sits there feeling like a weenie."

Yes, that has led to many a strained relationship.

"So that's what she did to Quayle. First, Larry King asks him what he would do if his teen-age daughter got pregnant and wanted to get an abortion. But Quayle ain't ready for the question. I guess his hired brains didn't teach him the right answers. So he kind of mumbles around and finally says he'd support his daughter's decision."

Well, what should he have said?

"He should have told Larry King: 'Hey, I don't ask you about your ex-wives, so one more question about my teen-age daughter and I'll punch you out.' "

Yes, that might have been an effective response. Or he could have said that since it was a hypothetical question, he would get a hypothetical horsewhip and flog the hypothetical young man who caused the hypothetical pregnancy.

"That would have been OK, too. But what made it worse was Quayle's wife. Sure, he goofed. But then the next day, she goes on TV and says, no, we wouldn't do it the way he says, we'd do it the way I say. The guy's Vice President of the United States and his wife treats him like Dagwood Bumstead."

It was not his finest moment.

"Yeah, but as bad as that was, it's nothing compared to the way Bush is going. Did you see him tell those people to sit down and shut up?"

Well, they were heckling him, which is a rude way to treat the President. So his irritability might be forgiven.

"Yeah, if they were longhaired hippies or demonstrators for baboon rights. But even a president don't tell women who think their GI husbands might still be prisoners in Vietnam to sit down and shut up."

I suppose he might have phrased it more tactfully.

"So now he's got George Will telling him that he ought to sit down and shut up. For good."

Yes, that must have been jarring for Bush to read: George Will saying that Republicans would be better off with another candidate.

"Didn't you say something like that a month ago?"

True, but I am not a conservative guru, as Professor Will is. I have never learned to press my lips together tight enough to qualify.

"Maybe Will is mad at being snubbed. I read where he used to be one of Nancy Reagan's favorite lunch chums, which has got to be one of the highest honors in Washington journalism. But Barbara Bush doesn't even have him over for cookies and milk."

No, there is more to it than that. Will has always thought that Bush was kind of a weenie.

"It takes one to know one, I always say."

Possibly. But even when Bush was vice president, Will called him a lap dog and said he would be a feeble president.

"Huh, no wonder Barbara don't give him cookies and milk. But don't all this remind you of the way the Democrats used to be? When Mondale got nominated, there were people who said he ought to step down before the convention was over. The same thing the second time around for Jimmy Carter."

There are some similarities.

"Yeah. You got some of Bush's people whispering to the reporters that Quayle ought to take a walk. And you got some of Quayle's conservatives wondering if maybe it's Bush who should take the walk. And if Bush goes any lower in the polls, he might be running behind undecided."

Remember, it is early. The Republicans have yet to hold their convention. And it is expected that Bush will give the speech of his life -- an inspiring speech that could reverse the momentum and begin turning this thing around.

"Yeah, and I know just what he'll say."

What?

"He's gonna bomb Saddam's swimming pool."

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