I got a personalized e-mail from Laura Bush the other day.
"Dear Steve," it began.
"In a few days, I will join tens of thousands of the President's supporters in a live conference call. You can join this call by hosting a Party for the President on Thursday, July 15th."
I checked my calendar. By chance, that day is wide open.
I don't recall when the President's wife and I became pen pals, but it's been a while. In a separate e-mail last week, she mentioned "George" as if we were all bridge partners.
"Thank you very much for all you have done and will do in this campaign," she wrote. "George and I really do appreciate it."
I also got an e-mail from Bush's campaign manager calling me "a valued member of the President's team."
Maybe they saw the column where I pointed out how wishy-washy John Kerry can be.
Unfortunately, I don't have a spare $2,000 for Bush-Cheney '04 right now. As Mrs. Bush's party invitation pointed out, that's what they're after. But as Mrs. Bush noted, hosting a party is a contribution in itself.
"One of the most important things you can do in this campaign," she wrote, "is talk to your friends and neighbors about the President's accomplishments and his leadership. Hosting a Party for the President makes neighbor-to-neighbor, person-to-person campaigning easy."
I still wasn't sold. But then I reread an earlier Bush e-mail that informed me: "These parties are easy and fun."
Huh. So they're easy.
See George run.
See Dick and George run.
"Just ask Melanie Perry of Moss Bluff, Louisiana," the e-mail went on.
"One guest really summed up how all of us felt," Melanie wrote.
And what did that guest say?
"The Bush-Cheney party was so nice yesterday!"
How could I say no?
Party at my house!
But after going out to knock on doors in my neighborhood, I paused to consider Bush's "accomplishments and his leadership." His presidency is defined by the war in Iraq, and things have not gone swimmingly. I couldn't just knock on my neighbor's door and say, "Hey, Larry. Mission accomplished in Iraq. Kegger at my house."
And Bush's better half, Vice President Dick Cheney, appears to have gone around the bend. I think he thumbs the phone book at night, calling ordinary people at random to insist there were long-established ties between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.
But unwavering gumption is the strength of Bush-Cheney, I realized, and it could be the theme for my party. Every time they're proven embarrassingly wrong, they become all the more insistent they were right. If that's not bold, what is?
Think about it.
There were no nukes. Saddam and Osama weren't in cahoots. One of the U.S.' favored replacements for Hussein was hooked up with Iranian spies. Iraq is now a training camp for terrorists. The blood flows in rivers, no end in sight.
We've dumped $100 billion into a hole that grows deeper by the day. A bipartisan Senate committee called the justifications for war a giant crock, unleashing a screaming indictment of one of the greatest intelligence breakdowns in recorded history.
And Laura wants me to throw a party.
Leadership, chutzpah. Whatever you call it, we could all use a drink.
The Tex-Mex is on me, friends. You bring the beer.
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