The Breakfast Table

Election Malaise

Hi Wendy,

Gosh, it sounds nice up there in Hanover, New Hampshire. What’s new on the Dartmouth College Green? What are the college kids saying; what are their hopes and dreams and fears? And, most of all, why did you go to New Hampshire for twelve hours–was it even for that long?–and then hasten right back to Gotham? Are you having a relationship with a Dartmouth student? Remember what happened to that schoolteacher in Seattle (or wherever it was). Remember what happened to Patrizia Reggiani, the former Signora Gucci. Twenty-nine years in the Italian slammer; and this to a woman who, according to the Times article (A4), is famous for having said, “I would rather weep in a Rolls-Royce than be happy on a bicycle.” Don’t you think that Signora Gucci’s clever variant on the Socrates/happy pig conundrum reveals a truly original sensibility, and that she should have her own talk show instead of going to jail? Especially since no one, apparently, liked the late Signore Gucci or misses him very much.

But all of this is just a mechanism to avoid talking about the election. Because, secretly, I find elections boring. Not that we shouldn’t go to the polls, do our civic duty, stand up and be counted, etc. I did so myself yesterday. I was one of those ticket-splitting New Yorkers who voted for Pataki but against D’Amato, so I guess I should feel comforted that I am marching in step with the Zeitgeist. But don’t you find all forms of collective behavior–elections, wars, mass migrations–depressing to contemplate, because they offer no handhold for the imagination? Sure I’m glad, on the whole, that a few more percentage points of the American electorate are being sensible about Monicagate than was feared by the Democrats, hoped for by the Republicans … but you just can’t sink your teeth into these broad demographic realities the way you can into a story about a woman who has her psychic hire a hit man to kill her husband.

Maureen Dowd had a funny column about the resurgence of Bushes, and the possibility of a Bush-Bush Republican ticket in 2000. Talk about white males. Clinton may be technically white too, but at least he plays the saxophone. But then, Lee Atwater played the guitar, didn’t he? Wendy, I seem to be rambling … perhaps I’m suffering from news overload; I never spend this much time reading the papers. I was at it seemingly for hours this morning, waiting for you to initiate, but to be perfectly honest, nothing engaged me the way Jefferson and Sally Hemings did. Sure, I had a moment’s exultance over the Schumer win, but now I’m experiencing a backlash of sympathy for Al. What will he do now? Will anyone hire him? He’s probably unemployable, and will have to go back to Hempstead and hang around the public library.

Wendy, you’ve got to put it all in perspective for me. Tell me what the Valley News thinks is going on.