In the July issue of Spy magazine, there's a scurrilous list of 1,000
reasons not to vote for George Bush. Reason 5: "Harry Blackmun is 84
years old." Reason 428: "Asked if he wanted more coffee at a truck
stop, he said, 'Just a splash.'" Reason 642: "The sooner he's gone,
the less likely your kid's school will be named for him." And so forth.
The magazine admitted there must be reasons to vote for Bush; "we
just couldn't think of any."
That didn't seem fair to me so I devoted the last month or so to
the job of putting more elasticity into the president's post-convention
bounceand I now report to you my complete list of reasons to
vote for him:
1. He gave a $40 tip to a peanut vendor at a minor league baseball
game last week; she said "I'd love to get it autographed, but I'm broke."
2. Ronald Reagan didn't like him. Thought he was a wimp,
according to Lyn Nofziger, the Gipper's former aide.
That's it. My whole list of reasons to re-elect George Bush.
It might have been longer, but he blew his answer to the question a
CNN reporter asked him earlier this month about a New York Post story
concerning rumors of hanky-panky with an aide named Jennifer (with a J)
Fitzgerald back in 1984. The story was based on a book that quoted a
now-dead ambassadora Republican appointeesaying "It became clear to
me that the Vice President and Jennifer Fitzgerald were romantically
Mr. Bush might have scored points by telling CNN that he had
started the rumors himself to get bipartisan support from Democrats in
Congress by appearing to emulate three of their party's most admired
presidents, Jefferson, FDR, and JFK, all of whom are thought to have
messed around a bit.
Or he might have done what Tom Gavin in the Denver Post suggested:
smiled "a quirky little Clark Gable smile and thanked everyone for a
very nice compliment indeed."
"Has there," Gavin asked, "ever been a political candidate more in
need of a little rakishness, a little savoir faire, a little aura of
mystery, intrigue, adventure?" It would counteract one of his big
problems: "he looks like a Rotarian, headed for lunch."
Or he might even have done what Bob Kerrey, who's had experience
with such questions, suggested: laugh it off and say he couldn't
respond to a dead man.
But George Bush didn't do any of those things. Instead, he got
downright cranky, called the question "sleazy," said he was "outraged"
and "disappointed" it got asked. And the CNN reporter who asked it,
according to Marlin Fitzwater, "will never work around the White House
Not very Clark Gablish.
Still, it was a pretty indelicate question to put to a sitting
president, especially while the First Lady was sitting beside him, and
it might be possible to whip up some righteous indignation at the
The Truth, Mainly
But only if you didn't know the president's people have had such
fun pinning the same rap on Bill Clinton since last spring when Gennifer
(with a G) Flowers made her disclosure. Floyd Brown, the man who
created the Willie Horton ads for Mr. Bush in 1988, tried pretty hard to
link Clinton to a pregnant woman's suicide in 1977, according to CBS
News last month. The dead woman's family wasn't having any of it, and
they began taping Brown's phone calls. In one of them, Brown said if he
could prove the connection, he'd have his lawyers tell Clinton "we want
him out of the race
because he's not morally qualified to be
CBS concluded that the scandal was "a nasty hoax."
Or you might share the president's indignation if you didn't know
that a week before the CNN question, Mary Matalin, a deputy manager of
the Bush campaign, said Clinton was spending "thousands of taxpayer
dollars on private investigators to fend off 'bimbo eruptions.'" The
president said she was getting into "a sleaze area" there, but he also
called her "a very good bulldog" for his campaign.
And at the GOP convention last week, a Bush appointee, U.S.
Treasurer Catalina Villalpando, called Clinton a "skirt chaser." She
later apologized, but the last I heard she was still U.S. Treasurer just
as Matalin is still the president's bulldog.
Since Mr. Bush is running on a platform that points to "the fine
example of family values and family virtue as lived by the president and
the first lady," you'd think he'd welcome the CNN question as an
opportunity to talk up his marital fidelity. Instead he gets mad at the
reporter who gives him the opening.
He's a hard man to figure, and he makes it tough for those of us
trying to compile lists of reasons to vote for him.
Satterfield is a college professor and writes as a means of discovery.