Al, you better watch out lest your detractors nickname you ”Boy George.“ According to People magazine, where political tidbits may be less weighty than in The New Yorker but not necessarily less interesting, Vice President Al Gore has taken to using a pressurized makeup wand to spray a ”light mist“ of foundation on his face, a method and application used by Hollywood divas. According to the magazine, Gore was so pleased with the makeup’s results that after it was applied, he told his makeup artist, ”I have never looked better.“
We already know that the buff, earth-tone-clad candidate makes sure he has workout equipment available at his hotels on the campaign trail. Even his harshest critics mightif they’re feeling charitabledismiss it all as just part of campaign culture. But the Gore campaign’s latest gimmick takes the cake.
Desperate to snag the female vote, Gore oozes understanding and compassion and sympathy for breasted beingssyndicated columnist Maureen Dowd notes that ”the guy practically lactates.“ Such sucking up, however, apparently hasn’t gotten him far enough. The balding politico is trailing Republican rival George W. Bush among women voters.
Worried about that state of affairs, the Gore campaign recently convened a focus group asking women who would make the better dateGore or Bush. The answer may give Gore some cause for optimism, even if it doesn’t necessarily boost his support among women.
According to The Wall Street Journal, congressional Democrats briefed on the results said the vice president was the clear victor of the all-important focus group session.
The women apparently didn’t consider Gore a hunk of head-over-heels proportions, but they considered him thoughtful, reflective, and interested in what women have to say.
According to the Journal, the women thought Bush, meanwhile, was ”the type who would drive up in a flashy convertible, honk the horn instead of coming to the door, lean against his car chewing gum, and spend all night talking about himself.“
But all that didn’t placate the congressional Democrats. ”You’ve got to do better with women,“ Chicago’s Rep. Jan Schakowsky told the Gore campaign.
Bill’s big day
One has to hand it to Mayor Bill Purcell, whose first eight months in office culminated last week with his most important day yetthe day he offered to the Metro Council his first budget to fund the city’s $1.1 billion operations.
Historically, such days carry a weightiness the likes of which can be felt throughout the city bureaucracy and, certainly, within the Metro Council chambers where the budget delivery happens. Department heads file in, and angry citizens and vocal activists alike sit in wait, like cats deciding whether to jump their prey or simply watch. Council members signal and whisper. If Metro were a school, it would be sort of like exam day.
There was no such anxiety this year as Purcell stepped into the Metro Council chambers to deliver his budget. It was a bit like an open-book test. To start with, everyone knew there would be, first of all, no tax increase proposed, and secondly, no pay raises for Metro employees. In the scheme of Metro’s political machinations, those are the two top considerations at budget time.
It didn’t hurt that he prepared everyone for the worst. Still, Purcell managed something most Council members, department heads, and onlookers haven’t really seen in a whilethat is, to keep everyone pretty content.
The expanding library system got its funding, and there were no cuts to speak of for the city’s key operations of policing and firefighting. Nashville will have just as many prosecutors this year as last and won’t shortchangeat least in Nashville termsinvestigations against people cruel to animals or the housing of Nashville’s homeless dogs and cats.
There will be chipper service and green parks and at least some recycling. The courts will run, the jail will operate, and Nashville won’t fall to pieces.
After Purcell was done, there wasn’t all that much to say. No one could really argue with it. Such a state of affairs is rare in Metro government, where there is almost always something nasty to say.
If there was any criticism of Purcell’s budget address, it wasn’t based on the substance of the budget but rather the way in which he offered it. To begin with, Metro Council members and others noted that Purcell didn’t take questions after he gave his budget address, bucking a Metro tradition. No one could remember, in fact, a Metro mayor who didn’t take questions from the Council when he was finished.
Secondly, Purcell demonstrated something he’s become increasingly comfortable with during his time as mayorcriticizing his predecessor. The subtleand not so subtlepetty jabs at Mayor Phil Bredesen come during small meetings, large ones, off-the-cuff, rehearsed, or otherwise.
During his budget address, there were a few gratuitous references to the city’s ”commitments and problems of the past“ and, of course, the promise that Nashvillians could ”look forward and toward better stewardship.“
Otherwise, Purcell, plagued up until now by his own tendency to be vague and even unmayoral, seemed more like a mayor last week than he ever has.
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