One of the most constant criticisms of Al Gore has beenthat he has too often reinvented himself. Republicans have criticizedand even ridiculed him for recreating himself in various images. But this week the man who has tried to present himself as arepentant sinner, a born-again evangelical who has seen the error of hishigh-livin' Texas ways, showed another side of his own self. The morphing of Bush began during a campaign event when he spotted areporter from The New York Times in the audience. Leaning casually overto his vice-presidential running mate, Dick Cheney, he called the man ananatomical expletive. Cheney seemed neither surprised nor bothered by the comment that wasalso captured on a live microphone. "Yeah, big time," he said in hisbest supportive vice-presidential voice. When informed the remark had been heard, Bush looked downright surlyas he said he only regretted a private remark had been heard in public. So what's the problem? Bush has worked hard and long to present himself as one of the boyson the Christian right. His controversial appearance at Bob JonesUniversity was just the beginning of a campaign to prove he is, in fact,a genuine Bible-toting conservative Christian. Memo to George W: Do not, under any circumstances use such anexpletive while at Bob Jones U. Even in a private conversation, that wordwill get your fanny kicked off campus faster than you can recite theFour Spiritual Laws. Bush's advisers include Marvin Olasky, the editor of theconservative World magazine, who was, himself, given quite a flatteringprofile in the very same New York Times.
Bet he's not going aroundcalling New York Times reporters expletives, even if he does probablybelieve they're all going to hell in a handbasket. Let's be honest. Not all conservative Christians are choir boys. Infact, some are even known to use synonyms for manure from time to time.But usually this comes when they've been mightily provoked. And if you were to stake out the halls of Christianity Today, wireit with mikes and wait for the most private conversations, you couldgrow old waiting to hear the word Bush used. But even if a card-carrying conservative Christian was to use theword, he would have the good sense to look embarrassed when caught andhe sure as heck would apologize for it before God and his fellowchurchgoers. He might even promise to get counseling for his problem. Hewould never, under any circumstances, look surly and defiant. So George W., get with the program. If you are now a mild-mannered,compassionate conservative, prayer-meeting-attending Christian, ditchthat word. It just doesn't go with the image. And for heaven's sake, getthat repentant thing down. That's not to say I am a big fan of Al Gore's. I am firmly plantedin the undecided middle, and one more gross smooch could drive me toplaster a Bush bumper sticker on my car, no matter who he is. And beforeI could consider voting for Gore, he would have to solemnly swear hewould never attempt to speak Spanish in public again. But if I do vote for George W., I would just like to know if I amgetting a butt-kicking, tough-talking guy who might call a trulydeserving person like Serbian president Milosevic an anatomicalexpletive, or am I getting a guy who might hand him a tract and pray forhis soul? I'm not saying there's a right answer.
I just want to know.