Battles of the First and Second Ladies; More on the Gores

| 16 Feb 2015 | 04:57

    Hot Lips Nancy The only one I can remember like that was the uncomfortable Pat Nixon. To see her in news footage or in the flesh was to partake for a moment in the tedium and horror of being Mrs. Richard Nixon. Her wan gallantry was a terrible bringdown. One of the appeals of Nancy Reagan was that on public platforms she tried to look like Pat Nixon, staring at the One-and-Only with shining eyes and lips slightly parted. But being a Hollywood actress Nancy overdid it. How many thousands of times did I see those slightly parted lips of Nancy's at conventions and on the campaign trail and remember Peter Lawford's famous description, as quoted by his wife Patricia Seaton Lawford, of Nancy as being known for "giving the best head in Hollywood." Reporters used to complain that looking at Nancy looking at Ron, day after day, made them feel tired. Not me. I can already hear my trusty editor John Strausbaugh asking urgently about the spouse of the president we both regard as the greatest America ever had. Betty Ford was a dish in her younger days, and had I known her then I would have craved her smile. But by the time of her exposure to the public in 1974, her prime love affair was, as she later confessed, with the bottle. It is her outing of alcoholism as the prime affliction of political wives that remains her best memento. Kitty Dukakis would have been a worthy successor.

    Favorite Sex Positions of The Gores Another dishy first lady was Rosalynn Carter, though she shared with Tipper Gore the chore of being Concerned About Mental Illness. Tipper does this for autobiographical reasons. Al Gore has driven her over the edge more than once, though I did read in The Enquirer or The Star not so long ago that after the vice presidential couple quits hotels in Europe, the cleaners find leftovers from Tipper's passionate cavortings, or at least her attempts to strike a spark in Ozone Man: little candles, subtle fragrances, incense sticks and so forth. Friends of the Gores have recalled the duo's unsparing descriptions at dinner parties of the precise sexual maneuvers decreed under the Shettles Method to produce a male. Two cups of coffee first thing in the morning as preface to rear-entry sex, Gore would intone triumphantly to guests such as Michael Cardoso, a DC lawyer married to the daughter of one of Gore's moneymen, Nate Landow. Under optimum circumstance for the production of a male, the woman should be the first to achieve orgasm. In due course Tipper gave birth to Albert III, in October of 1982, and the proud father would buttonhole people to outline for them the efficacy of Shettles.

    The Dreaded M Word Maybe it was these descriptions that aroused Tipper's interest in sexual lyrics and led her to her campaign against dirty music. I've heard it alleged that Tipper's real motive was an effort to awaken Ozone from his trance and be A Man. "Al," she'd cry, "listen to this disgusting lyric from Prince: 'I knew a girl named Nikki/guess u could say she was a sex fiend/I met her in a hotel lobby/masturbating with a magazine.' Al, it's horrible." This was the lyric that allegedly turned Tipper into a latter-day Comstock. The high point of Tipper's congressional 1985 hearings into dirty music was Zappa's appearance. He served as point man for the rockers at the hearing. Zappa didn't mince words, calling Tipper's Parents Music Resource Center a band of sexually repressed cultural terrorists. "The PMRC's proposal is an ill-conceived piece of nonsense which fails to deliver any real benefits to children, and infringes on the civil liberties of people who are not children," Zappa said. "The PMRC's demands are the equivalent of treating dandruff by decapitation... [They read] like an instruction manual for some sinister kind of 'toilet training program' to housebreak all composers and performers because of the lyrics of a few. Ladies, how dare you?"

    Then Zappa zeroed in on one of his key points: the hearing, which Sen. Paul Trible had ludicrously dubbed "the most important of the year," was a distraction from serious matters of state, namely the looting of the federal Treasury with another Reagan tax measure. "While the wife of the Secretary of the Treasury recites, 'Gonna drahve mah love insahde you,' and Senator Gore's wife talks about 'b-b-bondage' and oral sex at gunpoint, on the CBS Evening News, people in high places work on a tax bill that is so ridiculous the only way to sneak it through is to keep the public's mind on something else: porn rock."

    Sen. James Exon called Zappa's suggestion outlandish and conspiratorial. Sen. Paula Hawkins, the Florida Republican, suggested that Zappa neglected his own children and sought to dismiss his testimony because he made "a profit off of the sales of rock songs."

    Oily Al Meets Ms. Pinky When it came time for Gore to question Zappa, Al sought to portray himself as something of a groupie and chided Exon for never having heard of the Mothers of Invention. "Let me say, although I disagree with some of the statements that you make, and have made on other occasions," Gore told Zappa unctuously, "I have been a fan of your music, believe it or not, and I respect you as a true original and tremendously talented musician." As such a fan, Gore must have been familiar with one of Zappa's few pop hits, the 1974 scatological parody of parental admonition, "Don't Eat the Yellow Snow." Or perhaps it was Zappa's 1976 song "Ms. Pinky" that Al Gore was so fond of, with robust lyrics: "I got a girl with a little rubber head/rinse her out every night just before I go to bed/she never talked back like a lady might do/and she looks like she loves it every time I get through/and her name is P-I-N-K-Y... Her eyes is all shut in an ecstasy face/you can cram it down her throat, people, any old place/throw a little switch on her battery pack/you can poot it, you can shoot it till your wife gets back." By 1987 the Gores were in full retreat on dirty music, having realized that if Al was ever going to run for president, as he did the following year, they'd need showbiz gold. So they went to Hollywood to sue for peace and to beg for money. A meeting between music industry executives was arranged by Gore's intimate, Mickey Kantor, then one of L.A.'s most wired-in attorneys. In attendance were Irving Azoff, head of MCA's music division; Danny Goldberg, president of Gold Mountain Records; Lenny Waronker of Warner Bros. Records; and musician Don Henley.

    Azoff didn't waste time letting the Gores know what he thought of their crusade against rock music. "I blame you for all of it," Azoff told Tipper. The craven Gores demurred. Al claimed that the 1985 Senate hearings were "not a good idea." Tipper agreed, calling the hearings "a mistake...that sent the wrong message." Gore said he didn't "ask for" and "was not in favor of" the hearings, implying that they were pressed upon him by Sen. John Danforth. All of this was secretly taped and then handed over to Daily Variety, which ran an article on the Gores' backpedaling before powerful Hollywood donors.

    These days the gallant Al hints?depending on his audience?that he was always against Tipper's crusade. But the record entirely contradicts Gore's contention that he was an innocent bystander. Most senators fluttered in and out of the hearings, but Gore stayed for the duration, questioning every witness. After listening to one set of ribald lyrics, Gore shook his head and exclaimed that record labels were being "really irresponsible in promoting suicide and all the other things we have heard about here."

    During the hearings Gore even railed at the record industry execs for failing to show up. "I am told that every single one of the chief executive officers invited to participate chose to decline. I want to note that fact for the record, and I think that they should take a look at themselves as human beings, whether or not this is the way they want to spend their lives, if this is the way they want to earn a living, if this is the kind of contribution they want to make to the society in which we live." Then he went further, suggesting that the execs be compelled to testify. "It seems to me that we have the right to ask them, whether or not they wish to answer the question."

    W's Dumb Dick Back to Lynne. She's the brains of the Cheney family, which is no great achievement, since Dick is as thick as two planks. He's managed to establish a reputation for sagacity simply by smiling a lot. Noting his caveman voting record, people are surprised to find him benign in comportment and instantly conclude he has a powerful intellect. Not so. Lynne, on the other hand, went to the University of Wisconsin and wrote her PhD dissertation on the influence of Kant on the poetry of Matthew Arnold. Turbulent Teresa Lynne versus Tipper would offer a pleasing study in contrasts, piquant though not as exciting as the big possible face-off between Mrs. Dick Cheney and Mrs. John Kerry, in the event Al picks the junior senator from Massachusetts as his partner on the ticket. Pleasantly encumbered with the ample fortune of her previous husband, the late Sen. John Heinz, Teresa Heinz is a big power in upscale green circles, since she commands huge patronage courtesy of the awards her foundation hands out each year. She is the daughter of a Portuguese doctor, brought up as a child of empire in Mozambique, and went to university in South Africa. Imbued with the same veneration for capitalism and capitalists as another emigre, Arianna Huffington, Teresa made her way onto the board of the capitalism-loving Environmental Defense Fund. I can remember Teresa Heinz/Kerry in the late 1980s when EDF was heavily involved with various Amazonian promotions and fundraising endeavors. She used to sweep into the Western Amazon in great style, gazing with marked disfavor on the unruly rubber tappers mustered at the Rio Branco airport to meet her. Frantic EDF staffers would plead with the seringueiros to shed radical buttons lest Teresa conclude that EDF had fallen into bed with Third World revolutionaries, instead of promoting parks from which Indians and rubber tappers could be swiftly evicted.

    It Happened In Rio The biggest eco-bash of all, the Rio Earth Summit of June 1992, was where the tinder ignited between the Widow Heinz and Sen. John Kerry. Also present was Sen. Al Gore, fresh from writing Earth in the Balance. It was there that he accepted the call from the Clinton campaign, thus plunging Tipper into profounder depression, since he'd been promising ever since the end of his abortive '88 bid for the Democratic nomination that he'd spend more time at home. Bill and Tipper's Late-Night Talks Tipper and Bill Clinton, night owls, stayed up chatting, with the then-governor lending a sympathetic ear to Tipper's accounts of her depressed mother. I can imagine Bill in his best sympathetic-ear mode, nodding and peering at Tipper's tits. After the election Tipper became the White House anchor on mental health, and before long she was an impresario crucial to the promotion of America's new Great Depression, launched in the form of a study released at the end of 1993 purporting to show that the cost of depression to America was just under $44 billion a year. A cascade of bogus statistics followed this bald calculation, including a grotesque estimate that America's 18,400 suicides in 1990 cost Uncle Sam $7.5 billion in lost productivity, and that 60 percent of the self-slaughterers did so because of depression. Each year National Depression Screening Day has become Tipper's equivalent of the Trooping of the Color for the British monarch, with National Childhood Depression Awareness Day being rolled out in 1997, to ensure that no tot was overlooked in the drive to get Americans to put the Prozac bottle up on the shelf next to the aspirin and Alka-Seltzer. Oct. 30, 1999, found the Prozac cabal in New Orleans with Tipper being honored as one of the winners of the Eli Lilly Schizophrenia Reintegration awards, presented in conjunction with the American Psychiatric Association's annual meeting of the Institute of Psychiatric Services. The APA's contribution has been to widen definitions of mental illness in its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders to include speculative conditions such as Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder, which in turn requires the child or tot to be dosed with psychotropic drugs.

    The Lilly corporation seems to have semipermanent parking rights at the White House. George Bush the elder was a director after he left the CIA and, when he became vice president, the company had ready access in the form of Mitch Daniels, the company's vice president for corporate affairs, who shuttled between company hq in Indianapolis and the Reagan and Bush White Houses. Presumably spurred into action by Daniels, and also by eight years of contemplating Ronald Reagan, President Bush announced "The Decade of the Brain" in 1990. It was not long before The Decade of the Brain came out in its true colors as a p.r. campaign for Prozac.

    The Columbine shootings in the spring of 1999 were followed by a White House conference on youth violence. Since it was by that time a matter of some public comment that many homicidal teens, including one of the Columbine shooters, had been on psychotropic drugs, the matter had to be handled with delicacy by the White House drug boosters. Hillary Rodham Clinton carried the burden with aplomb, telling the crowd that "I think that part of what we've got [to do], though, is to reflect how we can both identify and get help to children who need it, whether or not they want it or are willing to accept it." In other words, the First Lady was advocating the forced drugging of kids with Ritalin, Prozac, Luvox or kindred psychotropic drugs.

    By early 2000 methodical reports were confirming what many Americans knew anyway: In many schools kids are being loaded up with psychotropic drugs, and the age level for recipients is dropping down to infancy. About four million kids in America are on Ritalin, Prozac or other similar mind-benders. The "mental health" complex has shrugged off such concerns, and the Second Lady along with the Second Man continued to supply the rhetorical accouterments for the pharmaceutical salesfolk. By now Tipper had gone public with her own bouts of depression a decade earlier. For his part Gore called for the training of teachers to spot mental illness, after which diagnosis the kids would presumably be compulsorily dosed with psychotropics.

    So, just as I said at the start, a brisk debate between Lynne and Tipper on these matters would set the fall campaign on fire. Who cares what W or Al or Dick or John thinks about anything? Nader's runningmate, Winona LaDuke, the only woman thus far running as a principal in her own right, as opposed to a spouse, would naturally be part of the encounter.