HAINES, ALASKA — I really like the Bush family or "We Bushes" as George the First says. I love Kennebunkport and the Western connection - the Texas ranch and cowboy boots. With all those kids and grandkids, I bet they even have a messy house sometimes.
But what I like best about the Bushes is Barbara. I love her white hair and wrinkles. I especially liked the way she and George kept a dog in the White House - and let her have puppies on their bed.
I read the interview with Barbara and George last month in The New York Times and cheered when she said what she really thought about the presidency and the Clintons, even though her husband kept telling her to hush up.
In a perfect world, folks like the Bushes should be holding family reunions in the White House. After all, they're as American as an L.L. Bean catalog - and I mean that as a compliment. My grandmother always said the apple never falls far from the tree, so with parents like the senior Bushes, George the Second, I'm sure, is a fine fellow.
Early in the campaign, when I first saw photos of young W., he was in sweaty running clothes feeding the cat. My husband does the same thing every morning.
I think it's great that the Texas governor owned a baseball team. If I had a million dollars - or I suppose a lot more - one of the first things I'd do is buy a baseball team for Alaska. An American president should like baseball.
I like political dynasties, I liked the Kennedys and the Roosevelts. But they weren't as normal as the Bushes, you know? I mean the Bushes could have a Thanksgiving special on TV.
Mind you, here in the small town in southeast Alaska where I live, no one is really paying much attention to the presidential race. The only political posters up in town are for a local fisherman who's running for the state Senate. This is the kind of place, like most rural Western towns, that will probably vote Republican, no matter what. More Alaskans are registered as independents than anything else, but they tend be on the Libertarian side. Ross Perot got a lot of votes in Haines; so did Ralph Nader.
But even though George the Second will probably take Haines, and the rest of Alaska, I won't be helping him. I wish I could. I wish Barbara would go live in the White House and help take care of her twin granddaughters. I wish we could give her national birthday parties, like the Queen Mother. That still may happen, but no thanks to me.
This is where the pollsters and spin doctors, the speech writers and the whole team working so hard to "sell" their candidate, fall down. You see, I do like George W., but I still won't vote for him.
I'm a 41-year-old Democrat and mother of five (four daughters and one son). I'm pro-choice and support affirmative action, universal healthcare and gay marriage, and I don't like the National Rifle Association. (Another reason to applaud George the First, who finally had enough of the gun lobby and quit the club.)
I also live in Alaska, a place where protecting the environment is an issue, and George the Second's record in Texas is not good.
I've never been fond of Al Gore. However, that won't keep me from voting for him. What will keep me from voting for him is his close association to President Clinton. The whole Monica Lewinsky affair makes me unable to vote for anyone who had anything to do with it. I want a complete change. Out with the old, in with the new. I want nice people with good manners and a little dignity representing my country.
I have no idea who I'll vote for in November. But I wish it could be Joe Leiberman and Barbara Bush, wouldn't that be something?
*Heather Lende, a regular contributor to the Monitor's Web site, www.csmonitor.com, is a columnist for The Anchorage Daily News and an occasional contributor to National Public Radio.
(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society