Tuesday, February 01, 2005

Goofus And Gallant

(Comparative biographies of Goofus and Gallant, with interesting milestones from other political biographies)

Goofus is born July 6, 1946 in New Haven Connecticut, where his father is attending Yale.

Gallant is born on December 11, 1943, in a military hospital in Denver, Colorado where his serviceman father is hospitalized.

Age Two
Goofus moves with his family to the oil-town of Midland, Texas. Goofus Sr. is a well-connected and wealthy oil man. Midland is an oil-executive enclave, where the street names are named for Ivy League schools.

Age Six
In 1950, Gallant’s family moves to Washington where his father begins his career as a salaried foreign-service officer.

Age Sixteen
A legacy student and a ready mixer, Goofus organizes the intramural stickball league at the exclusive Andover School in Connecticut, 1962. He is also a member of the cheerleading squad. His grade point average is in the C range.

Gallant is a standout in hockey and soccer at the exclusive St. Paul’s School in New Hampshire, 1960. He also founds a debate club. During the election season he delivers a speech to the mostly Republican student body favoring Democratic candidate John F. Kennedy. Gallant is a bit of a grind, a good student, not a livewire.

Age Eighteen
Despite a C average in prep school, Goofus is accepted at Yale. They see something in the young man, perhaps a resemblance to his father the Congressman (Yale, 1948) and his grandfather, former Connecticut Senator, and now Yale Trustee, Prescott Goofus (Yale, 1917).

Age Twenty
Goofus avoids the turmoil of the sixties, does not take part in any demonstrations, takes no position on civil rights, but, while he is a student at Yale, he is arrested for stealing a Christmas wreath from a New Haven hotel, and is charged with disorderly conduct, 1966. The charges are later dismissed. He plays baseball and is Head Cheerleader. His Yale nickname is “Lip.”

(With smoke billowing from his plane’s bullet-riddled fuselage, Navy pilot Goofus Sr. bails out over the Pacific, 1944. His two crewmen do not survive, and this fact haunts the future President for the rest of his life.)

Age Twenty One
In May 1968, Goofus graduates from Yale with a low C average. Now eligible for the draft, he avoids service in Vietnam by jumping to the front of a long waiting list of young men to join the 147th Fighter Group, the so-called “Champagne Unit” of the Texas Air National Guard. The company commander asks to have his picture taken with the son of the Congressman. On his application, under the heading Overseas Assignment, Goofus checks the box marked “do not volunteer.”

Age Twenty Two
Gallant is chosen to deliver the class oration to the graduating class of 1966. In his speech he questions the wisdom of the Vietnam War, saying: “The United States must, I think, bring itself to understand that the policy of intervention that was right for Western Europe does not and cannot find the same application to the rest of the world.” Despite his misgivings, he sees his duty and enlists in the Navy.

(George Washington resigns his commission in the Colonial Army in a pay dispute, 1754. Some critics call it a flip-flop.)

Age Twenty Three
(Having sorted out his differences with the Army, George Washington, showing no tactical flair but considerable coolness under fire, has four bullets shot through his coat and two horses killed under him while serving as an aide to General Braddock in the French and Indian War, 1755. He will later be criticized for not having actually been shot, and for fighting for the British before fighting against them.)

Age Twenty Four
In the fall of 1968, while serving on the guided missile frigate USS Gridley in the Gulf of Tonkin, Gallant volunteers to command a Swift Boat in the Mekong Delta. The casualty rate among Swift Boat personnel is around 75%, compared to around 14% in the rest of Vietnam. His best friend from Yale, Richard Pershing, has already died in combat.

(The general store Abraham Lincoln has been operating in New Salem, Illinois, fails after one year, 1832. Having no powerful friends or relatives, nobody bails him out.)

Age Twenty Five
In May, 1972, with two years left in his enlistment, Goofus requests reassignment to an inactive postal unit of the Texas Air National Guard. The unit has no planes, but he has lost his flight status for refusing to take a physical.

On February 28, 1969, while on patrol, Gallant’s boat comes under attack from the shore. Ignoring generally accepted evasive procedures, Gallant turns his craft directly into the enemy fire, beaches it and single-handedly chases down and kills an enemy armed with a rocket launcher. For this action he receives a Silver Star for gallantry. He also wins a Bronze Star for rescuing a Green Beret from the water, also while under enemy fire. Although five of his close friends die in the war, and despite notable heroism under fire, Gallant escapes serious injury. He is wounded three times for which he is awarded three Purple Hearts. He may have been in Cambodia at Christmastime in 1968, delivering agents during the secret war, or it may have been a month later.

Age Twenty Six
At Christmas 1972, in Houston, Goofus is driving drunk when he plows into a neighbor’s garbage cans. When his father asks to have a talk, Goofus Jr. challenges him to a fist-fight.

Age Twenty Seven
Goofus is granted an early release from the Texas Air National Guard so he can attend Harvard Business School, 1973.

(George Washington marries a rich widow, 1759.)

Age Twenty Eight
Gallant becomes one of the leaders of Vietnam Veterans Against the War. In 1971 he attends the Winter Soldiers Conference in Michigan, where he listens to other veterans’ accounts of atrocities committed under orders in Vietnam. On April 22, 1971, Gallant testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, and asks the difficult question: “How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?” He relates some of the accounts told to him at the Winter Soldiers Conference. Gallant loses badly in his first run for political office, in the fall of 1972, in Massachusetts.

Age Thirty
Goofus is arrested for drunken driving in Kennebunkport, Maine, September, 1976. His teenage sister Dorothy is a passenger in the car. He pleads guilty and pays a $150 fine.

Gallant is earning a law degree at Boston College, 1974.

Age Thirty Two
Goofus’s father sets him up in the oil business, 1978. The company, Arbusto, is a financial mess from the get-go.

Age Thirty Four
Gallant is working as a prosecutor in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, where he wins a high-profile murder case, and later gains the conviction of a notorious crime figure. He never loses a case in Middlesex County.

Age Thirty Six
Some friends of Goofus Sr., then Vice President of the United States, bail Goofus Jr. out of his disastrous oil venture, absorbing Arbusto into Spectrum 7. Despite his failure in the oil business, they make him the CEO of the new company.

Age Thirty Nine

(Abraham Lincoln, having been elected to Congress two years earlier, decides not to run for re-election, 1848. His vocal opposition to the war with Mexico was not popular with his constituents and may have played a part in his decision.)

In late 1986, Goofus’s oil company, Spectrum 7, is $3 million in debt and hemorrhaging money, when it is rescued by Harken Energy, which is owned by friends of his father, the Vice President of the United States. He is put on the Harken board, gets his debts paid, is given another $2.2 mill in stock options and a salary of $120,000 a year, with no real duties to perform.

(Theodore Roosevelt leads his Rough Riders up a hill in Cuba and becomes a war hero, 1898.)

Age Forty

Goofus celebrates too hard at his 40th birthday party and has a terrible hangover the next day. He promises never to drink again, 1986.

In 1984, Gallant is the Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts, a post he uses to champion better clean air and water regulations. On the retirement of Paul Tsongas, Gallant runs for the Senate seat, and wins.

Age Forty One
(In January, 1900, Governor Theodore Roosevelt of New York uses the West African phrase “speak softly and carry a big stick” to describe how he persuaded Republicans not to cave in to powerful interests by re-nominating the state’s corrupt insurance commissioner.)

Age Forty Three

In June, 1990, Goofus sells 2/3 of his stake in Harken Energy, where he is a member of the board, at 2.5 times the original value of the stock, netting $848,560 two weeks before Harken announces a disastrous quarterly report. The S.E.C. investigates the President’s son for fraud in association with the sale of his stock, and for the financial irregularities surrounding Aloha Petroleum while he was on the company’s audit committee, but they don’t investigate very hard, perhaps in part because his brother Neil is a prominent figure in a Savings & Loan collapse that is also being investigated.

Senator Gallant’s employs his prosecutorial experience to investigate and uncover the Reagan Administration’s covert dealings with Islamic terrorists and the secret, illegal funding of guerillas in Central America. The Iran-Contra Investigations result in the convictions of several high Reagan Administration officials, including Robert McFarlane, Oliver North and John Poindexter (whom Goofus will later appoint to a high security post in his administration). Others facing prosecution are pardoned in advance by President Goofus Sr..

In 1986, Senator Gallant bucks his party to vote for the Gramm Rudman Balanced Budget legislation.

(George Washington is put in command of the Continental Army, 1775. . His prudent strategy is to avoid direct engagement with the British, but to retreat slowly and strike when least expected. He avoids being wounded in battle but many of his fellow soldiers consider him a hero anyway.)

Age Forty Five
With an investment of $500,000 of borrowed money, Goofus becomes a part owner of the Texas Rangers, in exhange for which he is given a $200,000 a year salary to attend baseball games in seats behind the home dugout. Although he participates in none of the operations of the team, he takes credit for trading Sammy Sosa.

In 1989, Senator Gallant votes to end the Apache Helicopter program, agreeing with Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney’s recommendations to do so. The helicopter has been plagued with malfunctions and accidents.

Age Forty Six
In October 1990, Gallant votes to follow Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney’s recommendation to end the wasteful B2 Bomber program. Gallant votes to stop making the F-14, which Cheney is growing skeptical of as well. Cheney proposes cutting the Trident submarine program and the Bradley Fighting Vehicle program, and Gallant, again, votes to support the Defense Secretary’s wishes. (Defense Secretary Cheney boasts that he personally killed over 100 weapons systems in three years.) Fourteen years later Gallant’s support on these defense cuts will emerge as Vice President Cheney’s bitterest criticisms of Gallant in the presidential campaign.

Age Forty Seven
Gallant works with moderate Republican Senator John Heinz of Pennsylvania on the Clean Air Act, 1991. [He also works with Pennsylvania’s other moderate Republican, Arlen Spector, to make small cuts to the Intelligence budget, much smaller than the 20% cuts proposed by Florida’s Republican Congressman Porter Goss.]

In May of 1991, following the roadmap to normalization laid down by President Goofus Sr., Gallant visits Vietnam. As the chairman of the Senate Committee charged with investigating the P.O.W./M.I.A. issue, he works closely with Republican Senator, and former P.O.W., John McCain. In their efforts to uncover the truth, both men, but especially McCain, are on the receiving end of intense criticism, and it falls to Gallant to bridge the gap with the people who believe Americans are still being held prisoner, and who feel betrayed by the Committee’s findings.

(President Theodore Roosevelt “speaks softly and carries a big stick”, employing subtle diplomacy instead of military muscle to negotiate an end to the Russo-Japanese War, 1905. He wins the Nobel Peace Prize.)

Age Forty Eight
With the help of wealthy friends, most notably Enron Chairman Ken Lay, Goofus is elected Governor of Texas in 1994, getting revenge for the unkind things then-Governor Ann Richards said about his father at the Democratic Convention in 1992. While he is in office, Goofus will set the all-time record for executions by any governor in American history.

Age Fifty One
In 1998, Goofus sells his shares in the Texas Rangers Baseball Team, which he purchased for $500,000 in borrowed money. The shares net $14.9 million. The biggest reason for the large profit is the fancy new stadium he helped persuade the State of Texas to build for the team.

Age Fifty Two
Running for President in early 2000, Goofus loses to John McCain in the New Hampshire Primary. In order to regain momentum, Goofus has his people impugn McCain’s war record and his patriotism. (McCain served with considerable heroism as a pilot in Vietnam, and, at a time when Goofus was avoiding duty in Alabama, was being held for his fifth year in a North Vietnamese P.O.W. camp.) Goofus goes on to defeat McCain in the South Carolina primary, after a very successful phone campaign in which Goofus ’s people suggest McCain fathered a black child out of wedlock. Goofus wins the Republican nomination for President.

Age Fifty Three
In November, 2000, Goofus claims victory in the Presidential Election, despite having 500,000 fewer votes than his opponent, Vice President Al Gore. After a month, an Electoral College deadlock is broken when the U.S. Supreme Court issues a narrow ruling in his favor, overruling the Florida Supreme Court, and stopping a recount of votes in that state. Goofus receives liberal use of the corporate attorneys and corporate jets of the Enron Corporation during the Florida vote-count litigation. Goofus is the first U.S. President to be sworn into office with a criminal record.

Age Fifty Seven

(George Washington is sworn in as the first President of the United States of America on April 30, 1789, on Wall Street in New York.)

Age Fifty Nine

In December of 2003, most observers think Gallant’s chances of winning the Democratic nomination for President are slim to none.

Age Sixty
Gallant accepts the Democratic nomination for President, July 2004. His opponent is Goofus.