The Breakfast Table

George W., Winking Frat-Boy

Dear Ted,

Don’t drink that coffee, man, you just got us off to a good start. Really interesting about your trip to Central Asia. You’re right, of course–Islam is yet to be recognized by the West as a defining, driving political force in the world. Look at Chechnya. It’s possible there will be no way out for Russia because of that strain of wild fundamentalism.

Did you see the Page One piece in the New York Times yesterday by Melinda Henneberger and Frank Bruni on Tom DeLay and George W. Bush? It shows how these two are not as dissimilar as Bush wants us to think they are. God, his campaign is smart. I did a profile of him for Esquire last year and interviewed Karl Rove, his chief strategist. Rove is brilliant. He talked about Irishmen, the difference between the dark, tormented Irish and the sunny Irish. His plan saw Bush as a sunny conservative, someone who could wink and reassure his extremely conservative base while using his jocular, frat-boy personality to beguile and soothe the rest of us. Rove understands, as few Republicans do, what a dark side the GOP represents to voters. Bush’s campaign is especially strong because it is very aware of how out of touch social conservatism is in the 1990’s. So rather than wait for some Democrat to say that, they’ll put Tom DeLay to some good use and whip him. DeLay doesn’t seem to mind. He’s a professional S.O.B. He knows that if all this helps get Bush elected, he’ll save congressional seats as well. So what’s the problem? It’s we in the media who are flummoxed by the seeming “conflict.” But really they are two sides of the same head!

How about Maureen Dowd’s Op-Ed yesterday about your diva Donna Brazile. According to Dowd, Brazile was deputy field director for Dukakis (Dukakis!!!) and was responsible for floating rumors about George Bush Sr.’s extramarital affairs. First we have Tony Coelho, then warring advisers, Carter Eskew, Gore sleepwalking through a clumsy spendthrift campaign operation, and now … Donna Brazile. How can Gore expect people to vote for him when he can’t even dress himself?