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LIFE out here: by Bret Kofford

January 03, 2001

"Mannequin," I yell at the TV set. "No, no wait, Laura, Laura."

My family ignores me, as they so often do when I have one of my "big ideas."

I am undeterred in my quest for the truth.

"Laura," I yell at the TV news the next day. "No, wait, mannequin, mannequin."

My old dog Tasha, often more supportive of my indulgences than the rest of the family, woofs and scans the area in apparent affirmation one evening after I say "mannequin" at CNBC, although she may have thought I said "mailman," someone always deserving of a woof and affirmation from a dedicated family dog such as Tasha.

Silent, supportive, smiling and googly-eyed at her husband, I have come to the conclusion that what often appears with President-elect George W. Bush is not a live first lady-elect but a mannequin. And when it's not a mannequin, who could tell? I can't. That's why I yell at the TV, trying to figure it all out by doing so out loud.


This mannequin idea is just a hypothesis, surely, but then again, inquiry needs a starting point. Ask Isaac Newton. Ask Thomas Edison. Ask Geraldo Rivera.

Personally, I back the idea of a first lady who is indistinguishable from a mannequin, a first lady who is silent, supportive, smiling and googly-eyed at her presidential husband. After eight years of Hillary Rodham Clinton and her whole big, assertive adviser/lawyer/legislator first lady act, we need such a change. We don't need a woman who smiles at her husband with daggers in her eyes. We need a woman who smiles at her husband with googly eyes.

Heck, no one even knows what Laura Bush's maiden name was. She is not known as Laura Smith Bush or Laura Small Bush or Laura Kappeldorff Bush or Laura Rodham Bush. She is just Laura Bush. She even leaves the middle initial bit to her husband.

As first lady Laura Bush will not be pushing for domestic issues such as making sure all people, including all kids, particularly all poor little kids, get health care. No, Laura Bush will be emphasizing a more pressing domestic agenda, like making sure her fingernail polish matches her pumps. She also will not be afraid to take on controversial issues. She strongly opposes illiteracy, for example.

And when her husband is done with his four or eight years as president, Laura Bush won't be running for anything more than the iced tea when company calls.

Many of us have wives who are often silent, supportive, smiling and sometimes googly-eyed when we are in public. That is nice, wonderful in fact. Many such wives put an elbow in our ribs when they think we need it, when they think we are being rascals. That can happen anywhere from 15 to 50 times a day. Despite apparent occasional rascality by George W., neither Laura nor the matching mannequins ever seem to have their elbows out, though they may be adjustable.

Having a lovely, possibly bright (who knows?) first lady who is interchangeable with mannequins will be wonderful for our nation. Think what it will do for our national cheeriness. She and the matching mannequins can tour the nation, separately, all silent, supportive, smiling and googly-eyed. Small town folks such as those in La Quinta and Holtville and Felicity will glow with pride, knowing their towns are important enough to be graced with a visit from either the first lady or a first lady mannequin, all silent, supportive, smiling and googly-eyed. It will be a national googly-eyed love-fest.

"Laura, Laura," some of us will shout at the appearances. "No, wait, mannequin, mannequin."

"Mannequin, mannequin," others of us will shout, "no wait, Laura, Laura."

Then we will smile and ask in joy, as many of us have asked already, "Does it really make a difference?"

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