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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

VIEW FROM AMERICA: How Big Is George Jr.'s Hidden Sin?




Good heavens, what if George W. Bush still wets the bed?


This is not a fatuous question. The governor of Texas has publicly confessed he's done things that are an embarrassment that he won't discuss. He leaves us to guess whether he once had a foot fetish that he keeps under control with medication. For all we know, he has a history of admiring himself naked in the mirror and once lied about all this on a notarized medical form. Gasp, maybe as an undergraduate Yalie he regularly dipped live cats in hot tar as part of some Animal House fraternity ritual.


Fortunately, we are a newly sophisticated nation, and so these things would shock us less than the governor imagines. Certainly, they would be far less disqualifying of a candidate for the presidency than if, say, he was a front-runner whose position on the major issues were still as flimsy, as lacking in substance as, say, his own.


"Compassionate conservatism" is as far out on a limb as he will creep to describe his platform. This is so unspecific that it could easily be the motto of a movement to have Medicaid cover assisted suicide, a painless way to reduce public dependency and medical costs. As a defining position, it has the consistency of library paste without its wonderful adhesive qualities.


So if there's irrelevant garbage in his past, what business is it of ours?


Still, if journalism has a shred of evenhandedness left, shouldn't Michael Isikoff be out slithering through sewer pipes to dig it up? Not if you understand the great favor that U.S. President Bill Clinton has done this nation. And whether they realize it or not, fellow sinners Representatives Henry Hyde, Helen Chenoweth and Bob Barr share this debt. The president, by having his life ransacked of privacy beyond the experience of any leader in history, has set a new standard for this sort of extraneous rubbish and its capacity to pollute the political process.


Meanwhile, Governor George Pataki put the state of New York in a condition of feverish expectation for an entire week with a titillating tip that he would make an announcement of earth-shattering importance. The suspense was excruciating. Then this asteroid collision turned out to be his endorsement of Bush. The whole affair was so ludicrously orchestrated that I can only conclude Zenia Mucha, the governor's famously profane and no-nonsense communications tsarina, had nothing to do with it. If I know my Zenia, she'd have called the whole thing an unprintable expletive.


I suspect when it comes out, Bush's dark secret will be as disappointing as Pataki's hot-air balloon which, straining at its ropes, promptly sank in a trifling heap. Get ready for the National Enquirer to reveal that Bush was once treated for injuries sustained when he fell off a ladder propped up against the window of the girls' toilet at Yale. Meanwhile, Bush remains so kittenish, not to say cute and coy, on the issues that you'd swear his hairy legs had been seen walking around Austin in a pair of Elizabeth Dole's high heels. Poor Elizabeth may be laminated and scripted to her hair roots, but those were combat boots she used to kick the slats out of the gun lobby last week.


Robert Reno is a columnist with Newsday.