A Republican Planning Session, Circa 1982
(note: I completely made this up, but it sounds pretty plausible, don’t you think? I won’t assign actual names to the Republicans I pretend to be quoting; just A, B and C.)
A: Well, gents, its hard to believe, but Americans seem to be believing that Ronald Reagan is actually the President!
B: Funny, he never seemed that believable in any of his movie roles.
A: Well, Americans expect more from movie actors than they do from politicians.
B: So, we just ride the wave through ’84 and get Bush ready for ’88?
C: I don’t know, Bush is awfully stiff. I’m not sure Americans will go for him as President.
A: If he stays Vice-President for eight years, we’ll have to give it to him. We’ll just have to sabotage the Dems so they nominate someone even stiffer—maybe Al Gore or Mike Dukakis.
C: Are the Dems that stupid?
B: Well, they sure didn’t know how to manage Carter. I mean, 52 hostages turned into a major crisis which destroys his presidency? Heck, I’ll bet Ronny could get hundreds of Americans killed in Turkey or Beirut or someplace and we could turn it to our political advantage.
C: You think?
B: Of course! We just bluster a lot and wave the flag; none of this Rose Garden crisis management nonsense.
C: So Bush in ’88? That means we’ll have to run him in ’92 as well. I think he’ll bore a lot of Americans in four years. If the economy goes bad, we could lose the White House then.
A: It’s possible. We’ve got some contingency plans, however. We’re going to secretly support a few up-and-coming Democrats along the way and try to get them nominated.
B: That way, even if we lose…
C: We win! Anyone in mind?
A: Well, there’s Gephardt—he seems willing to change his position on about anything to get more votes. But he’s not much more exciting than Bush; he’d probably lose in the primaries no matter how much help we gave him.
C: Well, who else then?
A: There’s that young governor in Arkansas, Bill Clinton. Ever hear him speak?
C: No. He good?
A: Very slick. Smart, comes off as very knowledgeable, caring, loves to work the crowds.
B: Sounds a little too good. Do we want to help a Democrat like that? We might lose control completely!
A: Not to worry. The good governor has a zipper problem.
C: And we’ve got pictures?
A: Yep. And he’s got a wife who’ll probably castrate him if this ever comes out.
B: So, if Bush can’t win in ’92, we’ve got this Clinton…
C: Who will do pretty much anything we want…
A: And we get to pick on him the whole time because he’s a Democrat!
B: So then we use Clinton to further our agenda AND discredit the Democrats, and then clobber him with a Republican in ’96!
A: Well, maybe. But maybe we’ll be having so much fun, we’ll let him go another four years.
C: Oh man, that’s rich!
A: We would really go after him in that second term—expose him, maybe even impeach him!
B: Dang, that sounds like fun!
C: So would we just continue to let the Democrats have the White House after that, while we pull the strings?
A: No, that would be too dangerous. They might end up with someone honest and competent, and then we’d be up a creek. But we’re taking our lesson from Reagan, and from PT Barnum: no one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American public.
B: You don’t mean another mental midget?
A: I do. It is so much fun watching those news guys pretending that Reagan is a real president—and he will seem like one compared to some of the guys we’ve got coming along.
A: Well, like Dan Quayle, for one.
C: Dan Quayle? Senator Dan Quayle? From Indiana? The guy who misspells his own name half the time?
B: Oh, man, that would be something. Who else?
A: Well, have you met Bush’s sons?
B: You mean Jeb? Seems a little dim, but I could see that working…
A: No, I mean the oldest one, George W.
C: Ha ha ha! He’d lose at tic-tac-toe if you gave him the first three moves, and he was playing against Quayle! You don’t think we can pull that off, do you?
A: Not sure. Sure will be fun to try, though!