Honey, I lost the keys to all of these darned houses


A political discussion between Red State conservative Dave Simpson — a former reporter, editor, publisher and columnist — and Greg Bean, Blue Stater and executive editor of Greater Media Newspapers.

Dear Greg:

The problem with politics is you sometimes find yourself defending a guy who can’t remember how many houses he has.

As my kids say, it sucks to be me. But, at least I get to head you off at the pass by going first.

You’d no doubt like to go first this week, so you could pole ax me with the fact that John McCain couldn’t remember how many houses he has, in answer to a question by some smart-aleck reporter. Could be seven, maybe more, and he suggested that nosy reporters check with his staff.

That’s the only problem with marrying a beer distributor heiress who is worth $100 million. You forget about little things, like houses.

I bet you folks in New Jersey – which, congratulations, just moved into the No. 1 spot in the annual Tax Foundation survey of total tax load by state – have no problem remembering how many houses you own.

What I can’t figure out is why you keep electing Democrats. Every map I see shows New Jersey as blue as blue can be. Do you really think tax-raising Barack Obama is going to make things better in New Jersey? You’re not buying that crock, are you, Old Pal?

At least the Republicans have the common decency to lie to you about not raising taxes. The Democrats won’t even make the effort to lie! What’ s up with that, dude?

So anyway, let me defend McCain, who I think ought to get a medal from your wild-eyed Democrat friends because of all the money he’s paying in property taxes. Think of all the swell beer heiress money going to education!

Apparently some of those houses are investments, and I heard that McCain’s mother lives in one of them, so give him credit for at least being a nice son.

And, let’s be honest, if your wife is worth $100 million, how many houses you own probably isn’t your decision to make anyway. We could ask John Kerry about that.

Beer and ketchup heiresses, after all, don’t want to live in double wides.

I think it’s funny when the pundits try to contrast McCain’s houses with man-ofthe people Barack Obama, living in hardscrabble Hyde Park in Chicago, scrimping by on $4 million a year, in a $1.5 million mansion. Poor Barack. I bet he had to split rails to buy that house. Now there’s a guy who can relate to my predicament!

The bottom line for me is that if a guy can marry a rich gal and buy seven houses, more power to him. It’s a great country.

And if that guy spent five years in a Hanoi prison camp, and was tortured so badly that he can’t comb his own hair today, I figure that works out to 1.4 houses for each year of torture, which seems a little low to me. He should at least get a torture deduction on his property taxes.

Go easy on me, Greg. I have three houses, but you know how tiny my cabin is, and the third house is a fixer-upper that’s on the market.
Your friend,
Red State Dave

Dear Dave:

In warfare, what you have just done would be known as a pre-emptive strike. You knew this business with John McCain and his houses was just too juicy for me to pass up, so you figured you’d try to spin it to your advantage before I jumped on it like a frog on a June bug.

But come on, good buddy! You can’t be serious with that “1.4 houses for each year of torture” nonsense, can you?

Fact is, there are only two reasons for John McCain to forget how many houses he has, and whether it’s seven or maybe more.

One: He’s got so much money and so many houses, he really did forget the grand tally. Which means he’s more out of touch with average working stiffs like you and me than Michael “Let’s talk about endives” Dukakis.

Is the guy who has so many houses he can’t remember them all the guy that’s going to look out for us in Washington, or is it the guy who worked hard for one house, even if it is a $1.5 million “mansion” in Hyde Park?

Two: He can’t remember because he’s got the first symptoms of Alzheimer’s.

Although your hero Ronald Reagan wasn’t officially diagnosed with that disease until 1994, and his physician denied he exhibited symptoms while he was president, there were lots of troubling little incidents when he held the Oval Office, like the time he repeatedly referred to Vice President Bush as “Prime Minister Bush.” Ronald Reagan, at that point the oldest president ever, was 70 when he took office in 1981.

Your pal, John McCain, will be 72 this August, which would make him 76 at the end of his first term, 80 at the end of a second. Not that I want to be accused of ageism, but I’m not sure I want a 72-yearold guy who can’t remember how many houses he has, or where they are, with his finger on the Big Red Button.

Forgetting how many houses you have seems like a more serious warning sign than forgetting whether George Bush the elder is vice president or prime minister.

And if you want another sign that John’s a little out of it, how about his recent speech at the big annual motorcycle rally in Sturgis, S.D.? In that speech you’ll remember (but you haven’t talked about), he suggested his wife ought to be considered for the title of Miss Buffalo Chip.

Now, that would be fine if Miss Buffalo Chip was some kind of all-American beauty pageant, but it isn’t. Although it’s much tamer these days, the pageant has its roots in a time when the winner was selected, in part, because of her ability to do certain things with her anatomy and inanimate objects that you sure can’t illuminate in a family newspaper.

During the speech, his wife was smiling away like her hubby was oh-so-clever, but you have to figure she gave him the dickens later in the day. “I bought you seven or more houses, and my reward is your nomination for Miss Buffalo Chip?” she probably said. “You’d better forget which house you’re comin’ home to tonight, sweetheart, because if you come walking into mine, I’m gonna introduce you to my good friends Smith and Wesson.”

At least that’s what our wives would say, in the same situation.
Your single-home-owning friend,
Blue State Greg