Duking It Out Over W.

One of us worked for Bill Clinton, the other for George W. Bush. Do we agree on how the new president is doing? What do you think? How's President Bush doing so far? We put the question to Austinite Mark McKinnon, his sometime media adviser.


Yesterday, as I was running around the placid waters of Town Lake, a warm March wind blew against my skin, and I thought of the days we ran the same route together, talking big talk. Alas, we’re now running in different circles.

You’re the smartest guy I know in Democratic politics, buddy, so you’ve gotta be feeling some pain these days. Your man Clinton had to be yanked off the stage, but not before Hillary had already grabbed the china and he had smacked the hell out of the pardon piñata. I noticed that even you, the lone Shiite soldier through the Monica mess, had to admit finally that the Big Guy had gone too far. At a recent movie screening I attended at ten o’clock, Miramax’s Harvey Weinstein allowed how it was a good thing that President Bush wasn’t invited, because he’d already be in bed. But since Clinton’s pardon abuses were attributed in part to the fact that he hadn’t gotten enough sleep, shouldn’t we be glad to have a president who gets a little shut-eye before going to work in the morning and negotiating on behalf of the free world?

Please, please, please keep underestimating President Bush. Continue to question his intelligence. As our communist columnist friend at the Washington Post, E. J. Dionne, observed: “You’re encouraging the heartland to think you’re a bunch of elitists.” Even partisans admit that the president has had a phenomenal debut: great appointments and a focused agenda reflecting the priorities established during the campaign. And what of the Democrats? Well, once again, don’t take it from me. Take it from another liberal columnist, Frank Rich of the New York Times: “The party that won the popular vote on November 7 stands for little and has no evident leaders.”

This whole scenario reminds me of early 1992, when the Republicans were running around whining that Clinton had stolen all their issues. You better start looking for Moses, amigo, ‘cause you guys are in the desert.

Carry on—regardless, Mckinnon

Big Mac, We’re not only running in different circles but also in opposite directions. As I train for the Boston Marathon up here in Washington, D.C., my heart longs to be with you on the shores of our beloved Town Lake. But no setting, no matter how idyllic, can pretty up what your man Bush is doing to the land we love.

As that wind caresses your skin, think about the higher levels of CO2 that will be in the air because Junior broke his campaign promise to crack down on those global-warming emissions. The power generators Duking It Outwho spew that crap gave W. and his fellow Republicans $12.4 million. They know the real deal: Bush has the office, but the polluters have the power. Like any good Texan, he’s dancin’ with them that brung him.

And as you swim in the sacred waters of Barton Springs to cool off, think about how Junior has proposed quintupling the arsenic levels in our water. W. is actually moving to overturn Clinton regulations that would have reduced the levels of cancer-causing arsenic in our drinking water. What about children who’d like to have a glass of water at bedtime without having nightmares about cancer? Let them drink Perrier.

After you finish your run, if you feel a little sore, it’s a good kind of sore, isn’t it? Not like the backbreaking pain of folks who don’t have high-wage, low-work jobs like you and me. Like the folks who clean chickens at poultry slaughterhouses and bend steel in hot factories. In yet another sop to Big Bidness, W. signed legislation overturning the workplace safety protections that had been in the pipeline since his father was president. Ten years of work down the drain without a hearing, without a study. The first major law Bill Clinton signed created the Family and Medical Leave Act, which forced corporate America to treat working folks like human beings. It’s only fitting that the first major law W. signed allows corporations to treat people like borrowed mules, to be worked till their backs break, then tossed aside. And it doesn’t stop there. If you’re in the top 1 percent, you get 43 percent of the Bush tax cut, but if you’re so poor that you have to declare bankruptcy, Bush’s new law will make you an indentured servant.

And, no, Mac, I don’t underestimate W.’s intelligence. He’s no Einstein, but he’s sure smart enough to know how he got there. The special interests knew he was a baseball man, so they flashed him the “steal” sign. He lost the popular vote, lost the Florida vote, and lost the electoral vote—until Thief Justice Rehnquist stepped in and handed it to him. He knows deep down in his bones that he didn’t win and doesn’t deserve to be there. No wonder he won’t let them play “Hail to the Chief” when he walks into a room.

Hook ‘em, Begala Pablo, I’m in D.C. and have just finished running with the president, who sends his regards.


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