Patsy Senate knows people are laughing at her. She doesn't care. Let them snicker. Ronnie is happy, and that is what she cares about.
Maybe "happy" is not quite the word. He's pretty miffed that she couldn't deliver the $14 million he wanted for military aid to the "contras," but at least she was able to give him the $14 million he wants for a contra welfare program to be run by the CIA. She shudders to think what he would have been like if she had said no on that.
Ronnie did not make it easy for her. She was on tenterhooks for most of the nine hours of the debate, waiting for a letter from him saying he didn't want military money, but the humanitarian kind. He didn't come across until 75 minutes before the roll call, and she had to keep reminding everyone that they were supposed to vote on a letter that wasn't there, not on a bill that was printed and on their desks. Ronnie can be so stubborn.
He hates to "cave in." Sometimes she wishes he would come up to the Senate more often so he could see how easy it is. She does it all the time, and it only hurts when they laugh.
They're laughing now because she went along with Ronnie about turning the CIA into a welfare agency that would give the contras things that will "guarantee their survival and well-being."
What would make contras feel most well is overthrowing the Sandinistas, which is what Ronnie wants, too.
Patsy Senate is sure the CIA won't do anything against the law, and she wishes people would forget their mining of the Nicaraguan harbors. Those were very small mines.
Patsy Senate has faith in the CIA, just as Ronnie does. She can see the agents going to the costume department for Salvation Army uniforms. She sees them setting up kindergartens and dismantling dirty tricks classes and organizing community sings instead of target practice.
Yes, she can imagine that there might be floods of Spanish curses when the CIA agent-handlers first turn over to the contra commandants the blankets and home-carpentry kits instead of launchers and grenades. But why be negative?
She can see counterinsurgency specialists being retrained at child development or geriatrics. They are good at impersonations, and she can fancy some grizzled veteran of "clandestine agitation" ministering to laggard or errant contra-tots. "No, Juan, you cannot have the ice cream until you have eaten your beans." Or, "Margarita, you must learn to share."
Luckily, the senators who spoke were focused on other matters. That dear Barry Goldwater attacked two junior Democratic senators, John Kerry and Tom Harkin, for undertaking a last-minute diplomatic run to Managua and coming back with a peace plan from Daniel Ortega. "Wrong, wrong, wrong," he said, while Patsy Senate silently cheered. Kerry politely read a letter from the secretary of state in which he encouraged such visits by lawmakers.
All through the day, people told her that Nicaragua was another Cuba, a Marxist-Leninist expansionist plot, which had to be stopped, or that it was another Vietnam, a quagmire and graveyard for American youth, which should never be started.
Patsy Senate doesn't know a lot about Nicaragua -- she likes to leave things like that to Ronnie. But the debate reminded her of the one on the MX missile three weeks ago.
She thoroughly enjoyed the speech of William S. Cohen of Maine, the Senate's only published poet. He read a splendid paper asking, "Why is there so much doubt? So much hesitancy in the chamber?" He declared there should be "No more doublespeak, no more deception." A vote for the Reagan letter, he said, would be "a great disservice to the contras by leading them down a path which has no exit, except failure and defeat."
Patsy listened serenely. She had heard Cohen indict the MX and then vote with the president. She enjoys a Republican senator who can speak so well against doing what he is about to do.
She was grateful, too, for the southern Democrats, those knightly creatures who can be counted on to rescue a lady in distress. Nine of the 10 Democratic votes for Ronnie came from Dixie, where they understand the need for "standing tall."
During the long day, unsettling reports came from "the other body," which is infested with Democrats hungry to inflict a defeat on Ronnie. They talk in such basics over there. New York's Robert Garcia, for instance, said that it is none of our business what happens in Nicaragua. "I believe that it is their country, their part of the world, and they are entitled to make these decisions."
And they refused to vote on Ronnie's letter. They insisted on voting on the bill. They couldn't seem to see how you could convert spooks into nannies and softball coaches. The result was a rout for Ronnie. The speaker said, "They don't want to send our boys down there -- that's what it's all about."
Patsy Senate doesn't see it that way. To her it's about what it is always about -- pleasing Ronnie.