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When Barney heard New Mexico’s next governor will either be Democrat Diane Denish or Republican Susana Martinez, he was elated.
“That’s great,” gushed my friend from New Jersey in a phone call last week. “I know I’ve poked a lot of fun at your hick state over the years, but your future is on track with a female governor.”
I knew what Barney was talking about. For years now we have heard about how the world has gone down the toilet at the feet of a male dominated political structure driven by testosterone-crazed politicians primarily concerned with who has the bigger poster.
Wars, famine, corruption have been laid at the feet of power hungry males intent on gobbling up one another’s territory. (“My oil!” “No, my oil!”)
George Bush famously said, promising retaliation to Iraq militants threatening U.S. troops, “Bring ‘em on!” Laura Bush famously reacted by rolling her eyes and telling George to grow up and go sleep on the couch.
Women, it is reasoned, will bring their tender gender proclivities to political leadership with soft communicating skills, the same trait that leads Mom to seat the family at the kitchen table and say, “ok, guys, let’s figure out what is best for all of us.”
“So,” Barney asked, “how is it going between Diane and Susana?”
“They’re bitch-slapping one another every day, Barney. It just doesn’t stop. They are making New Mexico TV stations rich with a never-ending parade of attack ads. We are all going to be ready to hang ourselves by the time this thing ends.”
He was stunned. “You’re kidding me,” he said. “Who started it?”
I told him Susana showed her mean side early when she reduced her Republican opponent to rubble in the primary. Diane surprised me by immediately going after Susana primary vote night during her acceptance of the Democratic nomination.
“I thought Diane might congratulate Susana and say she looked forward to a positive campaign,” I told Barney, “but she immediately bit her in the ankle and the fight was on.” I told him I am a Diane fan and still hopeful she will be our next governor.
“Was that a disappointment to you, then?” he asked.
“Kind of like looking forward to dinner with a classy lady and finding out she picks her teeth,” I admitted. This whole phony war is a disappointment to the entire state, I explained.
“Susana and Diane are making Sarah Palin look as sweet as Julie Andrews in ‘Sound of Music,’ ” I said.
Sarah’s going after the Tea Party, our ladies seem more interested in the Pee Party.
Barney follows New Mexico fairly closely and is aware of our problems, a debilitating shortage of Medicaid funds, a struggling education system, too many poor and disadvantaged, persistent unemployment.
“What do you think will be the defining issue, what will decide this race between Diane and Susana?” he wondered.
“Mud wrestling,” I said. “So far these ladies have displayed such lack of class we’re beginning to think, ‘strip down and get ‘er on, gals’.”
I told Barney Susana is trying to tie Diane to the present administration by calling her a “loyal solider of Bill Richardson,” when, in fact, she can’t be blamed for problems of that era.
“Richardson!” Barney explained. “I forgot to ask about your old friend. What’s new with Bill?”
“Bill’s just fine,” I told him. “In fact, just last week celebrities Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart visited the mansion in Santa Fe and Governor Richardson presided at their marriage.”
“You’re kidding me!” Barney exclaimed. “You’re telling me your governor is marrying people now? You’re saying he actually officiated at the wedding of Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart, she the fictional Ally McBeal? That’s just ridiculous!”
I told him I couldn’t agree more. “I personally find Calista kind of a mousy little woman,” I said. “You would think Harrison could do better.”
“No, no, that’s not at all what I meant!” he barked. “This is just a glaring example of how you get things screwed up. Is it any wonder you have had such a shabby, two-bit journalism career?”
“Probably not,” I said, just before slamming down the receiver.
(Ned Cantwell, who once wrote an attack ad saying “liar, liar, pants on fire,” can be contacted at email@example.com.