The Breakfast Table

Dolls and Demos

Dear Stephen,

Good morning. Let me begin by stating the obvious thing that’s on America’s mind this morning. The Susan Lucci doll is now available at FAO Schwartz according to an ad in the New York Times. And Susan never looked lovelier. I am sitting in the Hanover Inn overlooking Dartmouth College Green with the New York Times, the Boston Globe, the Valley News (this part of the world is called Upper Connecticut River Valley), and USA Today. From a casual glance at all the papers the Democrats had a good night and every candidate photographed is a white male. Perhaps Susan’s tenacity in public life leads me to ask if the percentage of women in public office has accelerated, or is the proliferation of portobello mushrooms of more interest?(See mushroom mania in the Times.)

There’s a great quote from a 96-year-old retired grocer, George Gordon, on the front page of the Times. “I’ve been voting since the depression,” says George, “And the only president I trust not to fool around would be good old Harry Truman.” It seems the voters followed George’s wisdom. Apparently Clinton has a 55 percent approval rating as a person. So Stephen, is this a question of privacy or character? Is it that the tactics of Ken Starr and the Republicans were an anathema to the country’s sense of fair play, or are we basically just looking for a talented CEO? I was delighted to read that the voters were more concerned about issues closer to home, education, taxes, than the president’s personal life. However, as R.W. Apple points out in the Times, fewer than four of the 10 eligible voters chose to participate. Perhaps Mr. Gordon will be the last of a breed with 70 years of voting experience under his belt.

Watching the returns last night I wondered if Americans were expressing a sort of fed-up and let’s-get-on-with-it sentiment, directed not only against Republicans but also against the media. A small note: Did you see D’Amato’s concession last night? It was relatively gracious. He seems to be overwhelmingly close to Libby Pataki who looks more and more first lady-esque. You can tell as the suits become more pastel and the brooches get slightly bigger. Pataki’s win in New York is very interesting. He now seems like a constant. I agree with Richard Perez-Pena in the Times that it’s a remarkable transformation. He does support the arts, which is of course why he had the landslide.

Stephen, the lesson of the day is never underestimate the American voter. (Though again I would like to know the numbers of people under 30 who voted.) And never tell your psychic you want to murder your husband. Maurizio Gucci’s former wife was convicted yesterday of ordering his murder; she was sentenced to 29 years in prison. Apparently she blames it all on her psychic who admitted hiring the killer. The widow Gucci claims she was blackmailed by her psychic when she expressed her desire to see him dead. What will this do to the psychic industry? Or worse, leather goods? I will never tell my psychic I want to murder my husband. I will only tell my astronomer or Pilates instructor.

Finally, did you see the piece about the ABC union strike? Various writers, editors, cameramen, and camerawomen have been picketing ABC because of a health care contract. In previous cases ABC has always let union members back, as if it were a family squabble. In this case they were locked out and told not to come back to work. This change seems to be due to Disney management. I find specter of Disney, the worldwide family company, terrifying. I look forward to having the government deal with health care and take some power away from what I see as irresponsible corporations.

Stephen, I do see these elections as hopeful. Not so much as to whether they were celebrating in the White House, although it’s very good news to have a New York senator from Brooklyn, but I think it’s a fairly clear mandate to just get on with it. And for George Bush to have more children.