PITY THE Democratic Party. Jilted she was. She was expecting a diamond in November; she got the gate instead. And she is suffering the agonies of rejection, the identity loss, the loneliness. And everyone is screaming at how, if she is ever to get to the White House of her dreams, she has to change her ways.
What to do? Does she just need a week at Maine Chance, a new wardrobe and a good shove? Or must she go into deep analysis and find out where -- in her childhood, in her later interpersonal relationships -- she went wrong? Does she need a new hairdo or a new head?
Who is she? She doesn't know. Did she promise too much? Was she extravagant? She thought generosity was an attractive quality. She went to great pains to show how much she cared about children and old people. It got her exactly one state.
She is told one day that her problem, in the words of one Wisconsin Democrat, is that all she represents is "space shoes, save the whales and gays out of the closet"; and the next that there is nothing wrong with her message, she just needs better technology to get it across. She must appeal to white males. Now they tell her. Before they told her she would find happiness in the "gender gap."
Some tell her to lock her door, strap herself to her desk and write a paper "defining" herself. Others hoot at the idea. She should just go out and find herself a new man, somebody who would personify all her values -- which should include all that Ronald Reagan stands for and, at the same time, all he stands against.
But who, she asks wanly? Should Mario Cuomo not run again for governor of New York and take the next bus to New Hampshire? Should Gary Hart, the futurist from Colorado, forget about running for the Senate in 1986 and start peddling "new" ideas?
Bill Bradley? He follows the Reagan pattern in having had a previous celebrity career as a forward for the New York Knicks. Couldn't he lock up the jock vote early? He's quiet and a little shy. But at least he's tall. Tall is good, is one of the things she learned from Ronald Reagan.
It is all very sad. When she was lying on the couch moping, the governors, led by Chuck Robb of Virginia, came storming into room, ordered everyone out and announced that they were taking over. They would pick a new party chairman, they said, and watch our dust. But dust was all they could raise. Their quest ended in an airport on a stormy Sunday. She turned her face to the wall.
Some of her handlers, like Rep. Tony Coelho, the chairman of the House campaign committee, tell her she should stand back and watch Ronald Reagan fall on his face. In four years time, he will ride into the sunset and the Republicans will have to field an ordinary mortal as a candidate.
She can, in other words, sulk and pout until the economy goes sour and the country begins to realize, in Coelho's words, that all Reagan did was "to apply a pretty Band-Aid to a festering wound."
Rep. Pat Williams (D-Mont.) describes that approach as "shooting at the Republicans after their boat gets stuck on the beach."
Sometimes, she thinks she should come out for tax reform. It's something her old self would get behind. It's the rich and the corporations who would lose their shelters.
But when she suggests to her counselors that tax reform sounds like a fair and decent thing to do, she is put down. All she needs to know about it is that it has "no chance" unless Reagan "personally" comes out for it. Reagan won, didn't he? Let him go up against the rich and the corporations. Let him cut his own throat with two of his pet groups.
Tax increase? It's necessary, she knows, and inevitable, but why should she take the rap for it. She asked for one at her convention, and what did it get her? One state, that's what. No, let Ronald Reagan come to her on his hands and knees and beg. Be sure the country sees him eating his words -- "over my dead body" -- and then she might consider it.
Rep. Beryl Anthony of Arkansas tells her that the country knows full well that taxes have to be raised and wants to get it over with. He had some harmless holiday fun torturing business groups down home -- where Reagan did the "over my dead body" number -- by pretending that the president had talked him into believing that the economy will "grow out of the deficits."
The audience jeered at him and told him that the president was only kidding, just playing politics for the campaign.
But all the drooping Democratic Party got out of the tale was the stabbing new evidence that Reagan is never charged with flimflammery or lying, as she would be if she said something ridiculous.
Is she sorry for herself? You bet she is. And the country is going to be sorry for treating her so mean. You just wait and see.