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Final Days

Ten Things George Bush Can Still Do as President

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1. Pardon Manuel Noriega. "We nabbed you fair and square and now we're going to cut you loose," Bush could drawl, every inch a tough Texan with a big heart. "But clear out by sundown and never show your mangy hide around these parts again."

2. Invite Gennifer Flowers to the inauguration. After four years of gutter politics, this note of chivalry would affirm that the era of whispering campaigns is over in the Republican Party, which now intends to base its loyal opposition to President Clinton strictly on the issues instead of the sleazy exploitation of scurrilous rumors.

3. Ask Senator Robert Packwood for a report on the rape of Bosnian women by Serbian hordes and ask Marge Schott to assess famine in Africa. Each will find conditions "absolutely unacceptable" and demand action. These bold conclusions will restore their good names and assert the hallowed principle of immediate redemption close to the hearts of all exiled government servants.

4. Demand a special prosecutor to investigate 1992's "October surprise" scandal. The outlines of a Democratic conspiracy of breathtaking proportions are already clear. Fearing the release of 11th-hour figures by the Bush administration that would point to economic recovery and reverse the course of the election, millions of Democrats in all 50 states did not start going back to work until after the president had been defeated.

5. Resign early so Dan Quayle can be president for a day. Lots of grade schools pick a principal for a day from among the promising students, and these kids remember the experience forever. They even get to make announcements over the PA.

6. Issue an executive order forbidding porters on federally funded Amtrak trains to discuss abortion. This is just in case one might. A ringing edict would assert once and for all the president's gravity on a vital issue.

7. Dig up the Rose Garden. Roses are native to Asia; White House horticulture has long sent the world the wrong signal. If the president plants made-in-America flora such as bluestem and prairie cordgrass, his successors will be able to stare out the Oval Office window in moments of national peril and ask themselves, "What would Crazy Horse have done?"

8. Write a poem. Poetry is therapeutic, and leaked to People magazine can reverse a dubious public image overnight. For example, the president can begin a soulful but ultimately life-affirming ode on his administration with the brooding lines, "I'd done my bit / The lights were lit / But damn, I wish Saddam had quit." Or he could ask Peggy Noonan to write something for him.

9. Patch things up between Charles and Di. George and Barbara can make this their own special Camp David project. What those kids need to hear from a couple of gray heads is that in the long run total interpersonal dysfunction doesn't amount to a hill of beans. Perhaps the Nixons could be invited over to add their memories.

10. Talk to the pictures. When Woodward and Bernstein said Nixon did it, it sounded like a big deal. Actually, talking to the pictures of presidents is a time-honored tradition.

"Well, I guess I'm all packed. Are you all packed?"

"I'm all packed. Do you want to take the bags down now and put them by the door?"

"I can do that in the morning. Have you seen that paperback I was reading?"

"You know, I bet I packed it, honey. Gosh, I'm sorry."

"Oh, it doesn't matter. I'll just go make myself a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and talk to the pictures of the presidents or something until I get sleepy."

"OK honey, I'll probably be asleep when you come to bed."

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