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Hard On Dole

By Kevin Isom

It's always hard on Bob Dole. If it's not a vicious Republican primary, it's a Democratic block in Congress stalling his legislative efforts. And now journalists on the other side of the world are scurrying as they try to figure out how to cover the American presidential campaign. Because transliterated into their alphabet, D-O-L-E is their word for P-E-N-I-S.

Indeed, these journalists are stiff with fear over the prospects of headlines like PENIS WINS U.S. PRESIDENCY or ELECTABILITY OF PENIS QUESTIONED or PENIS APPEARS FIRM AT REPUBLICAN CONVENTION. But it's not just a case of prudery. After all, these folks write in parts of the world that take their women's rights seriously. They try to have as few as possible. In such places, if Clinton wins, a headline like AMERICA DECIDES: PENIS LOSES simply wouldn't do. No sense making it difficult to keep those women under veils.

Back in our corner of the world, the problems of a few foreign journalists haven't received much attention. Yet. When they do, it'll be one more headache for Bob Dole. On the heels of a dramatic and emotional departure from the Senate, he's being called a penis.

This is truly a sad state of affairs, because you can't help but like Bob Dole. He's someone you'd be pleased to have as your grandfather. Meanwhile, his wife, Elizabeth Dole, is exceedingly likable, easily whipping Hillary Clinton in that department. Though, of course, Elizabeth Dole can get a bit testy when you call her one of her old nicknames. After all, "Liddy" is childish sounding. And her nickname as Transportation Secretary in the Reagan administration, given for her ability to win over legislators to her points of view, was truly suspect: "Sugar Lips." Given the recent foreign alphabet imbroglio, it's even worse. Imagine the caption under the photo if Dole wins the election: JUBILANT PENIS EMBRACES SUGAR LIPS.

Yet perhaps this whole alphabet exposure is just the sort of raciness that Bob Dole needs to energize his campaign. Bill Clinton played the saxophone, an instrument whose sexual overtones cannot be ignored, on national television during the last election. In my mind, at least, a penis in the paper trumps a sax on the TV any day. Dole could end up holding his head high after all. Then after a sudden surge in the polls, the headline could be PENIS SURPRISES CLINTON FROM BEHIND.

Clinton, however, is not a man to take such things lying down. He has proven time and time again that reversal energizes him, and he would no doubt rise to this occasion as well. Perhaps he could find something illicit in Dole's past. Maybe something even Nixon-esque. CROOKED PENIS: SCANDAL EMERGES. But Dole is about the straightest arrow I've ever seen (I mean that entirely figuratively), so Clinton probably couldn't nail him there.

No matter. Clinton would simply call in more former Republican strategists (everyone knows there are plenty of penises there) to plan a comeback. The headline? BEATING PENIS: CLINTON HAS PLAN. Though I think that headline was already used during the Genifer Flowers controversy, and, in all fairness, none of her allegations ultimately stood up to close examination.

Either way the race ends up going, whether PENIS WINS or PENIS LOSES, at least some humor has finally been injected into the campaign. The only thing that could conceivably add more fun is if Bob Dole relaxes even more, doffing the jacket and slacks, and donning latex instead.


Kevin Isom is an attorney and writer in Atlanta. His columns appear in newspapers and magazines throughout the U.S. and Canada. His fiction and other work has appeared in Paris Transcontinental (Sorbonne, Paris), The Harvard Gay & Lesbian Review, and other magazines.
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