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Mary Contrary wants Hillary to send Bill off to Uzbekistan

When the wind chill hits sub-basement temperatures the way it did this past week, my inclination is to hibernate. Unfortunately, it's not an option, which is why I was headed for the grocery store when radio announcers were trumpeting a wind chil...

When the wind chill hits sub-basement temperatures the way it did this past week, my inclination is to hibernate. Unfortunately, it's not an option, which is why I was headed for the grocery store when radio announcers were trumpeting a wind chill of minus 44.

There were plenty of others in my plight. In fact, the parking lot was full of cars, many of them left running by owners who subscribe to the old adage, "Forty degrees below zero keeps out the riffraff." (It must be true that like snowbirds, car thieves migrate south for the winter.)

Hurrying through the first set of automatic doors - heavily frosted over - I suddenly was blinded by an apparition in a neon pink snowmobile suit. As if the bitter weather wasn't enough to deal with, there stood Mary Contrary grinning, clipboard and pen in hand.

"Hey Sunshine, you're a Hillary fan. I've started a petition drive that I think will help her out."

"I don't like the word 'fan' when it comes to politics, Mary. Anyway, it's cold in this entrance area, and I'm in a hurry to get my groceries and get back home."

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"Oh, cool your jets, Sunshine. This will only take a minute." She looked me up and down. "Besides, you can't be cold in that Nanook-of-the-North get-up."

"I'm in a hurry, Mary," I said in a tone as stern as I could muster, knowing full well I would not be getting away from her until I'd heard her whole harangue.

"OK, OK, so I'll give you the short version." Mary smiled. "Here's the deal. Nobody - including Hillary Clinton's enemies - says anything about her not being up to the job of president. Heck, even the folks who detest her say she knows the issues better than anybody else."

Mary's eyes narrowed. "Her problem is Kitty Dukakis."

"Kitty Dukakis?" I shook my head. "Kitty Dukakis hasn't been in public life for 20 years."

Mary sighed and smiled condescendingly. "Always slow on the uptake, aren't you, Sunshine."

"Mary?" I did my best to strike a threatening pose.

"Now, don't get your blood in a flood." She patted my arm. "The thing is, when Michael Dukakis ran for president against the old George Bush, the Dukakis campaign didn't know how to deal with Kitty. And right now Hillary's campaign doesn't know how to deal with her husband."

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"Your analogy is a stretch, Mary. Kitty Dukakis never was in office herself, and she wasn't out on the campaign trail taking on the other candidates. It was because she suffered from depression and had addiction problems that she was labeled unpredictable."

Mary sighed again. "Do I have to spell it out for you? The problem was that she became an attack point.

"The opponents, particularly that old campaign dog, Lee Atwater, saw the vulnerability, got some rumors going - first about her mental health and then about her husband's - and pretty soon, Michael Dukakis' campaign tanked. Well, the one place Hillary Clinton is vulnerable is Bill. If all the buzz is about what he's saying and how he's reacting rather than about her ideas and her stands on issues, she's in a pickle."

Mary smiled. "That's why I'm starting a petition to make Bill ambassador to Uzbekistan."

"Uzbekistan?"

"OK, maybe Mongolia would be better." She flashed a big smile, and I glared at her.

"Come on, Sunshine, lighten up. All the petition says is that Senator Clinton should make clear what her husband's role is in her campaign and what it will be if she becomes president."

"Well, why couldn't you say that to start out with, Mary? That's a perfectly reasonable request."

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"Thank you. Thank you very much." She took a bow, her neon pink outfit crackling as she did. "Although speaking of reasonable and unreasonable, Sunshine, that furry thing on your head looks like it needs to be fed."

"Goodbye, Mary."

Ahlin teaches English as an adjunct faculty member at Minnesota State University Moorhead and is a regular contributor to The Forum's commentary pages. E-mail janeahlin@yahoo.com

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