Watch out, Washington. We're about to be assailed by the ultimate combination of the two great ills of our era: inflation and political image-making.
Wrapping them up into one is a life-sized, blue-suited, wavy-brown-haired, wrinklefaced, purselipped, Made-in-Taiwan inflatable dummy of President Ronald Reagan.
It's being sold in the streets of New York for $13.95 by entrepreneur Jeff Thomas, whose sales are said to be over 250. The Institute for Art and Urban Resources, which featured the dolls as part of an entire show of Reagan-inspired art, reported yesterday that they were getting "a lot of calls."
Well, wonderful. Aside from the possible slur of depicting the president as plastic and hot air, this is good news. For one thing, no Washington hostess need be without the ultimate guest of honor.
The problem is that this is Washington, where anything worth doing is always worth overdoing. Don't be surprised to see dozens of other dolls being blown up all over town in the near future, each with its own particular function. And don't say we didn't warn you when it all starts to seem like a series of bad jokes.
Consider, for instance, a legion of White House staff dolls: Blow them up and listen to the leaks.
Or a doll in the image of nuclear strategist Richard Pipes: Blow it up and it blows you up.
The David Stockman doll: Blow it up and it trickles down.
The Nancy Reagan doll: The hard part is dressing it.
The Menachem Begin doll: Even think about blowing it up and jets swoop out of the sky.
The Henry Kissinger doll: Blow it up, but save plenty of wind for the ego.
The Federal-Reserve-Chairman Paul Volcker doll: He knows how to handle inflation.
The media doll: Blow it up and it blows everything out of proportion.
A doll in the image of Pentagon civil defense expert T.K. Jones: Don't pay any attention to all that happy talk about digging shelters, it'll get blown up just like the rest of them.
The Interior Secretary James Watt doll: blow it up--it'll just think somebody's strip-mining in the nearest national forest.
The Jerry Zipkin doll: No one will be able to tell the difference.
And the ultimate companion for the doll that started it all, the Bonzo doll: Blow it up and your Reagan doll puts it to bed.