Age before beauty.

Notes from the political sidelines.
Dec. 8 2005 2:03 PM

Age Before Beauty

Impotence is as impotence does.

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This year's surprise winner was the unappetizing "Marshmallow and Yam," which edged "Wattle and Snood," 27 percent to 26 percent. Like most voters, I assumed "Wattle and Snood" was the law firm handling Karl Rove's defense. Instead, wattle is the red, fleshy growth under a turkey's throat, and snood is the red, fleshy growth that hangs over its bill. Experts could have been describing the president and vice president when they wrote, "If a turkey isn't feeling well, the snood and wattle become very pale."

The names the White House wanted this year lagged behind: "Blessing and Bounty" tied for second-to-last with the slogan on which Bush has staked his entire presidency, "Democracy and Freedom." Don't tell the Iraqis, but even when Bush sponsors the contest, the only opponents "Democracy and Freedom" can outpoll right now are "Corn and Maize."

In a White House desperate for any sign of progress, the president must wish he could go back and change his Second Inaugural to read, "There is only one force of history that can break the reign of hatred and resentment, and expose the pretensions of tyrants, and reward the hopes of the decent and tolerant, and that is the force of Marshmallow and Yam."

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Tryptophan Mail: Yesterday, on Meet the Press, Sen. John Warner spoke for restless Republicans everywhere in pleading with the White House to revive FDR's tradition of the "fireside chat." The chat itself might not do much to show Bush's strategy for success in Iraq, but the fireside would do a fine job of showing Bush's strategy for how hard-strapped Americans can survive a winter of soaring heating oil prices here at home.

Slate readers huddled around the fire this weekend seemed in no mood to thank or pardon their leaders in Washington. The which-turkeys-will-Bush-pardon-next contest produced the obvious suspects—"Jack and Tom," "Ari and Judy," "Judy and Bob"—as well as the more philosophical "Duck and Cover," "Shock and Awe," and "Foot and Mouth." One reader nominated me for inventing the word "drueling," which sounds like some kind of spitting competition but was actually just an unforgivable misspelling.

The award for best movie title goes to danielle for "Harriet and Samuel." But the overall winner comes from Jason Warehouse, who captured the grim, unsavory confusion of the Bush White House with his entry, "Utter Disconnect from Political Reality" and "Cranberries." ... 1:36 P.M. (link)

Bruce Reed, who was President Clinton's domestic policy adviser, is CEO of the Democratic Leadership Council and co-author with Rahm Emanuel of The Plan: Big Ideas for Change in America.E-mail him at thehasbeen@gmail.com. Read his disclosure here.