By Tony Russell|
"It's getting late, Stanley. What are you working on?"
"I'm getting ready to launch my campaign for the presidency, Irene. I thought I'd put together a list of the positions I've held all my life—the things that I've been most committed to."
"That's a wonderful idea. You can lay out your positions and tell voters this is what you are, who you've been, and who you're going to continue to be. People will respect that, even those who disagree with some of your stands."
"Don't be silly, Irene! I'm making up a list for my handlers so we can compare my positions with what the party's regulars expect. Then I can announce that I've had a change of heart on anything I need to switch."
"Oh, Stanley! You wouldn't abandon your opposition to the death penalty, would you?"
"I'm afraid so, honey. A willingness to kill people is practically a prerequisite for being president."
"What about a woman's right to choose? Surely you wouldn't give that up?"
"Sorry, sweetheart, but I'm coming out for the sanctity of life."
"Then you still oppose preemptive wars?"
"My base stays fighting mad, honey."
"What's all this talk about your base? I thought your base was God, our marriage, and your self—your values, your integrity."
"People don't care what I used to believe, Irene. They just want to know if I'm with them now. A candidate says his position has 'evolved,' or he's had some kind of a conversion experience, and the true believers are okay with that."
"That's crazy talk, Stanley! People will see right through it. I can't believe you think voters are that shallow or stupid!"
"Everybody tells me this is the way it's done, Irene. You can be a Dennis Kucinich and never rise above single digits in the polls, or a John McCain, sinking under the weight of his support for the war. Or you can throw your convictions overboard as if they were lead weights, and start climbing to the top. Look at how well Willard Romney is doing."
"People don't expect heroism from a president, Stanley. Or nobility, or grandeur. Those things are nice if a president rises to an occasion, but they're not expected. What people do expect, and deserve, is a generous spirit, decency, intelligence, trustworthiness, and compassion—not just a slogan, but the real thing. You know that. In fact, I'm quoting your own words back to you."
"I hear what you're saying, pumpkin. What you don't understand is that the price tag of ambition is abandoning conviction."
"Stanley, what would you say if I put on a see-through blouse and a leather miniskirt, and started peddling my body on 42nd Street?"
"There's no need to do that, sweetheart; my fundraising is going really well. And you look just fine in that cocktail dress with those strands of pearls."
"Just answer my question, Stanley."
"I'd file for divorce. I didn't marry a prostitute. What's your point?"
© Tony Russell, 2007