Something named Charles Baxter wrote an account of a post-election conversation he had with a couple of friends. The whole thing is basically a discussion among three Susan Lenfesteys with penises. I have insinuated myself into the conversation so there would be at least one viewpoint present that emanated from a source with an IQ higher than flan. Sure, you could read the original version, but why would you when mine is so much better?
The rewrite is as follows:
THE Senate has been seated, and we have a new senator, Amy Klobuchar. But we're still talking about the aftermath of the midterm elections.
Two friends from high school, guys I've known for 40 years, and I are at breakfast at a greasy spoon on Lyndale Avenue, watching the Minneapolis traffic. Because the restaurant was crowded, we had to share a table with some incredibly handsome and intelligent-looking fellow, named Lorne Ned Foote, or some such. I ask for their analysis. My friend the estate planner speaks up first.
"I have it all figured out. Bill Clinton defeated Karl Rove," he says. "The centrist Democrats, Bill Clinton types, beat out the Karl Rove types, the base voters. The base strategy isn't going to work for a while. If it had worked, Mark Kennedy would have won the race for the Senate, and we'd have a scowling movement-conservative accountant as Minnesota's senator. Instead, we have a brainy upbeat soccer-mom progressive. She won in a landslide. She was the antidote to despair. That's what's important."
The Foote guy interjected. "I won't be silent. That's the dumbest thing I ever heard. Please tell me on what issue Amy Klobuchar is a 'centrist'. You can't. Know why? Because you don't know. She got elected on her name, her connections, and an endless string of brainless, focus group-tested platitudes. She sure as hell didn't have any platform to speak of other than 'ME NOT RUBBER STAMP NEOCONS AND BUSH!' Pfft."
My other friend looks up from cutting his waffle and joins in. "Bill O'Reilly said national voter turnout would be low. He said that the election was a matter of life and death but that everyone - or 'the folks,' as he calls them - would be watching 'Dancing with the Stars.'" He chews thoughtfully. "That's pretty cynical of him. Who are these 'folks' he's always talking about? Anyway, he was wrong. There was a huge turnout in Minnesota."
Mr. Foote jumped in again, animated. "Ooooo! Some TV talking head was wrong about something. Did'ja note the date and time he said it? For surely that was an historic moment in the history of the world! Oh, and another thing," he continued. "How in the hell does one chew food 'thoughtfully'??? Who's writing this crap anyway?"
"George Bush hit the trifecta," I say. "Iraq, corruption and incompetence." I dig into my huevos. "Failure follows failure. The Republic Party will take years to recover from this. Al Franken thinks George Bush won't even be invited to the 2008 convention. It doesn't matter. No one has anything new to say about the current administration. It's all been said."
"Over and over and over and over and over and over again. That doesn't make 50% of it less of a brain-dead lie perpetuated by a bunch of small-minded fools who possess a fraction of the intellect of the guy they constantly deride as stupid. Present company included," Foote added.
"Why do you call it 'the Republic Party'" my friend asks.
"Because they say 'the Democrat Party.' So we should follow their example and say, 'the Republic Party,' and see what happens."
Mr. Foote flagged down a waitress and asked her if he could get a seat at someplace other than "the children's table."
"The Republic Party convention is going to be here," the estate planner says. "Think about that."
There is a long silence. A silence that was abruptly broken by a burst of flatulence.
"Let them come," my other friend, a sculptor and furniture-maker, proclaims with a smile. "This Congressional district is now represented by an African-American Muslim, a follower of Paul Wellstone." He means Keith Ellison.
"Oh, thanks for that clarification, Sherlock," taunted Foote. "I thought for a moment there that you were talking about Tammy Lee."
"Here's a guy," continued the sculptor "who doesn't run a single TV ad and beats his opponent in a landslide."
The Foote guy interrupted: "Yes, but to be fair, the DFL could have nominated a hermaphroditic walrus to run in the 5th and won. It speaks more of the pathology of the district than it does the candidate."
The sculptor ignored the interruption. "He gets on TV after the election and is asked by a conservative commentator to prove that he's not sympathetic to terrorism."
"Point of order, sir!" Mr. Foote was now standing on the table. "Glenn Beck never asked such a question. What he did was use that phrase to set up a softball question to Ellison. That would be a small fact you'd be aware of - notwithstanding your superior intellect, I'm sure - if you refused to have the boundaries of your reality set by what you read on the Huffington Post, or at the very least, had actually viewed the clip in question. Now, if you insist on propagating these banal third-rate lefty-blog memes, I shall be forced to stab you in the eye with my fork!"
"Then a representative from Virginia wonders if he's going to take the oath of office on the Koran."
When I looked up again, sculptor guy had a fork sticking out of his head. Yet he felt the need to keep prattling on, oblivious apparently, to both the utensil protruding from his eye and the suburbs:
"This district is the object of national attention. It's so progressive, it goes beyond blue into deep purple. We're not just a bunch of Lutherans anymore: Somalis and Latinos and everybody lives here. The party of George Bush wants to have its convention in St. Paul? Fine."
We watch the traffic.
"Boy, you guys must be a hoot at parties," Foote observed.
"It's safer to drive now," the estate planner says. "After the last elections, people were so angry that they were driving 80 or 90 miles an hour on I-35. They've calmed down a little."
I speak up. "Well, there's no winter here; the roads are clear. You can't ski because there's no snow, and the hockey rinks haven't opened because the ice is unsafe - when there is ice. In Minnesota! It's creepy. You'd think someone would pay attention."
Foote had a wild look in his eyes. "I've got another fork for you if you're going to bring up global warming..."
Another pause. "Why did they lie to us, those guys?" the sculptor asks, reaching for his coffee. "Why do they keep lying about Iraq and global warming?" I am always quoting from somewhere, so I quote my Minneapolis neighbor, the poet Robert Bly: "These lies mean that the country wants to die."
Foote stood again "That's it! FORKS FOR EVERYBODY!!!!!!"
"Not anymore," the sculptor says, sipping his coffee; carefully manuvering the mug around the fork handle imbedded in his skull. "We're in a new, positive era, starting now. The Democrats will make some difference."
"You think so?" I reply. Minnesotans cherish their political optimism. But when I think of Iraq and of our intentions there, another line of poetry comes to me, by Louis Simpson, so I say it: "Grave by grave we civilize the ground."
With that Lorne Ned Foote ran from the table screaming. We stuck our tab on his credit card. Us "progressives" are good like that.