Dear Uncle Harry,
Maybe after a week you've calmed down, old boy. But you could hardly be more agitated than you were last Tuesday night, could you?
I don't think I've ever heard you so upset after an election, Harold. You, the soul of circumspection and careful phraseology, using expressions like "destruction of the Democratic Party" and "simpering, whimpering SunBeltism." You've been reading too many newspaper columnists, Harold. Have you considered a week in Fort Lauderdale?
Or how about a week in Washington? That's not a joke, Harold. You'll get a real good rest here in sunny Politicalville, believe me.
You're always telling me how thrilling it must be to live in so political a town. You're always telling me that nobody in Pittsfield feels that fire in the belly to take on world-sized problems. I'll tell you how thrilling and world-sized it was here last Wednesday. A big fat zero on the Richter scale.
Everybody climbed out of the shower that morning and flicked on Good Morning America to see if anything was new since six hours before, when they went to bed. The only difference was that David Hartman was blabbing instead of David Brinkley. So everybody said, "Oh, well," grabbed a coat, jumped in the car and went to work.
I walked down Connecticut Avenue last Wednesday at lunchtime, Harold, and it felt about as political as Muleshoe, Texas. Sixteen hours earlier, the President had run up the most staggering numbers in American history, and what were people schmoozing about? Whether John Riggins would be too hurt to play for the Redskins on Sunday.
I stopped in the bank to cash a check, and here was this woman with a MONDALE/FERRARO button pinned to her lapel. One of those fat ones the size of a pancake. Couldn't miss it in a sandstorm.
Now, you'd think Democrats would walk up to her and commiserate. And you'd think Republicans would tell her, um, uh, maybe you haven't heard what happened yesterday, lady. Nothing, Harold. Zilch. Everybody just stared at his shoes and checked to be sure his paycheck was endorsed. Just another day. Wonder what's on TV tonight?
Maybe it's because we live it all the time here. We know that whoever's President now, and whoever's going to be President next, we'll be around longer than both of them put together. And maybe this interminable campaign is what did it. The winner was obvious from about September on, so a lot of people were probably relieved to be able to talk Riggo rather than Reag-o for a change.
Maybe the shoe-studiers have a point, Harold. Does politics have to be dissected and debated to the Nth degree, like a batting average? Why shouldn't the day after an election be just another Wednesday? The purpose of an election is to choose and then to be done with choosing, isn't it? Otherwise, you're like a rat caught in a maze. You're always hunting and searching and trying to dope out the Big Political Truth. You're so busy worrying about who's in good position for '88 that you fail to notice all the pretty significant things that happened in '84.
Wow! Getting philosophical in my old age, Harold. Occupational hazard of the newspaper business, I guess. And no, dammit, that is not an offer to come to Massachusetts and run what's left of your blasted business. This place may have been Tombsville last Wednesday, but having to eat your egg salad sandwiches regularly would be worse.
Take your blood pressure pills, Unk. And here's the most effective relief of all: None of it happens again (praise be!) until 1988.
Your Loving Nephew,