The Breakfast Table

Moralityville, USA, vs. Main Street, USA

Dear Mim:

Good morning. I fear it’s one of those mornings when breakfast would seem to be a Coke, a cigarette, and a Tylenol. The Decision 2000 graphics are up on the TV news shows, which means we are about to fall victim to 13 months of electioneering, and here we both are indulging in it in our own ways. I find the progressive expansion of elections is as distressing as the Christmas decorations now going up before Thanksgiving. The business of Giuliani and the Brooklyn Museum has only marginally penetrated here in Los Angeles. We have the police department coming unglued with accusation of drug dealing and death-squad tactics, and Mayor Riordan is in hiding as usual. But, of course, the Giuliani thing is absolutely nothing more than one more political sideshow, and a cheap midway shuck at that. Until November 2000, there are going to be plenty more where that came from.

It’s a symptom of an electoral process rapidly turning into some frightening theme park, one section of which is Moralityland (the main ride being tempests revolving in teacups labeled Family Values, Defense of Religion, the War on Drugs, etc., etc.) Fortunately only a small, if loud, minority of the electorate live in Moralityland any more, and that’s why New York residents oppose Giuliani 2-to-1. It’s the Clinton sex scandals writ small, which served only to prove that the entire political establishment has grown so far removed from the mood of the people, it’s little wonder that I’m hoping Warren Beatty will run, if only to save my sanity–although I fear as a presidential contender he will break my heart just as Mario Cuomo did all those years ago–and others are looking to Jesse Ventura, if not for president then at least as the man to stop Pat Buchanan.

Indeed, in the week when Warren didn’t declare, and some callow pundit on CNN all but called him a communist, Jesse Ventura, interviewed in Playboy by Lawrence Grobel, was the single refreshing waft of normality. So Jesse is a pro wrestler by trade, did nameless Apocalypse Now stuff in ‘Nam as a Navy Seal, and rode with the Mongols Motorcycle Club for nine months. Seems as reasonable a resume as being a quasi-Texas rich kid with $56 million to burn on being Big Oil’s Puppet President, and indeed, Jesse’s utterances on drug and prostitution decriminalization, on the need for unions, and the oft-quoted snap about organized religion being a crutch for the weak-minded and an excuse to stick their noses in other people’s business, are the kind of discussion I haven’t heard from a politician since Abbie Hoffman took it on the lam. Jesse at least seems instinctively to grasp that it’s been 20 years since Ronald Reagan got himself elected, and the same old buzz words are so worn out they will no longer play. I’m not sure I exactly want Jesse in charge of the national nukes, but I feel much the same about George W.

And on the subject of George W., did he, I wonder, watch John McNaughton’s film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer before commuting Henry Lee Lucas’ death sentence?

I very much miss the headlines in the Post, but I think I have to leave the reasons for that until the Tylenol kick in.

You won’t get a fight out of me on the Backstreet Boys. This old rocker doesn’t care which way they get it. Should liking them or not liking them be the new political litmus test?

Much love,