How to Be Kinder and Gentler | Year In Review | Chicago Reader

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How to Be Kinder and Gentler

Etiquette Rules for a New America


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In November, George Bush shared a vision with the American people. A vision of a "kinder, gentler nation," with a thousand little Italian lights and no taxes. We read his lips and elected him president of the United States. Now the victory celebrations are over. Across the nation, Americans are settling down to the business of making President Bush's vision come true--asking themselves, "What can I do to help?"

What indeed. Clearly, before a nation can be kinder and gentler, it must become more gracious and better groomed. Every American everywhere--from the swankiest penthouse in Manhattan to the humblest underpass in Houston--must resolve now to strive for a stronger and more perfect congeniality. Here, for those of us unaccustomed to the etiquette of noblesse oblige, is a short list of questions and answers about Republican comportment.

What does President Bush call a situation where Americans are forced to spend the winter living in flimsy cardboard boxes?

A flexible freeze.

What's the proper etiquette with regard to displaying the American flag?

It can be flown from a staff, hung vertically from a wire, or worn in the Bush campaign style, as a simple wrap.

Is there a kinder, gentler way to cope with abortion?

Yes, but we haven't worked out the penalties yet.

Will a Bush administration be sensitive to minorities?

Yes. During the campaign, in fact, they did pioneering work on bringing much-persecuted former Nazi collaborators into the political mainstream.

What do you suggest for black people under Bush?


How can Republicans hope to improve the quality of education when they've reduced funding for it?

School prayer.

How does President Bush plan to address Noriega?

"Your Dealership."

Is there a need for a tougher ethics law for administration officials?

Oh, not really. They've done very well for themselves without one.

Is there a graceful way to say goodbye to American ownership of American business and real estate?


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