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What happened to Mr. Cuddle Bear?

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By Ned Cantwell

You think back of the great couples, their linked identities warming our hearts. So many come to mind.• Elvis and Priscilla.•Pebbles and BamBam.•Sonny and Cher.•Elizabeth Taylor andRichard Burton.•Ike and Tina Turner.•Al and Tipper.•John Smith andPocahontas.•Ken and Barbie.•Bill and Hillary.•Bill and Monica•Bill and Gennifer.And then there is Bill Richardson and Diane Denish.We have a soft spot for Bill and Diane.Although not officially New Mexico’s first couple, these two share power at the top with a warm and touching mutual respect. The governor and his lieutenant governor guiding our state to bigger and better things.Oh, sure, there have been playful skirmishes. But when these two kids recently got to serious squabbling, it was disconcerting to all of us.Kind of like watching Mom and Dad fight.We’re still not sure what it was all about. Apparently, the crux was Diane’s request for state police security at official events and Bill’s turning a deaf ear to her needs.When the governor is absent – like, for instance, a whole year when he is running for president – then it is the duty of the governor light to step in and perform his duties.At the root of the kerfuffle is Diane’s assertion, according to Albuquerque Journal writer Deborah Baker, that she has been denied police protection while she was acting governor.Bill said it has “always been the case” that his buddy was provided security when she performed gubernatorial duties.“That’s not consistent with the facts,” Diane said. “I’m baffled about why he continues to micromanage whether or not I have security.”Anyone who has ever loitered in a high school corridor and heard the quarterback and head cheerleader exchanging barbs like these knows the relationship is kaput.It’s hard to gauge from this vantage point just where this is headed. Joe Monahan reports on his political blog Richardson is also mad at Denish because she did not work hard enough to promote his legislative health package at the recently concluded session.For her part, in words much nicer than this, Diane says that is not true and you can stick it.It is not for me to make judgments about who might be wrong and who might be right in this political tangle. Relationships are hard to figure. It is still not clear to me what was going on between Dagwood Bumstead and Blondie Boopadoop.This much seems certain though: Bill Richardson returned from the presidential wars in a foul mood. Mr. Cuddle Bear all of a sudden turned into Mr. Meanie. Polished, moderate politico morphed into Tough Guy.The fellow who could flash a winning smile and charm detractors with a dash of humor adopted a scowl and grew a beard. Bill does not do scowl and beard well.Gaining much of his reputation as a world renowned negotiator, Bill now started saying things like “try me,” and “bring it on.”He should have learned. Even Laura Bush, ever her husband’s faithful defender, was publicly critical when cocky George said of Iraq militants, “bring ‘em on.”I don’t know why Big Bill is so mad. He did a good job out there, even though he could not get CNN to recognize that he was a viable candidate. Truth is, when you look at his qualifications compared to Obama and Hillary, Bill compares well.That assertion makes you mad, reader person? Well, stick it. Want to fight about it? Bring it on!

Syndicated columnist Ned Cantwell – ncantwell@ beyondbb.com – is mad because he cannot grow a beard.