Enough Already! I'm Voting for Wodehouse's Codfish

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I wrote a column the other day saying I thought the Bush-is-a-moron business (can't pronounce big words, malaprops hilariously) was a little unfair. The sight of a lynch mob is always distressing, especially when they're looking to string up a dyslexic. Even if he does wear cowboy boots.

Slightly over 3 billion Americans e-mailed me with the following message: "But Lance, he IS a moron."

Aha! Why didn't you say so? In that case, carry on.

Then it got personal. A message arrived that said, "Lance, YOU are a moron."

I answered in the only way a man could. I e-mailed back, "So's your old man! And your mother wears army shoes!"

Within an hour, the man fired back a message that put me in my place. It said, scathingly: "You don't even know my father and mother!"

I have started marking off the days on the calendar, like a convict, waiting for release in early November. This election campaign is going to end. But how do we get through the intervening weeks? Buck up! We've come this far. I admit I think wistfully from time to time about Alan Keyes. Where is he now that we need him? Where is his mosh pit? With Wen Ho Lee back home, can't we hear again from Keyes about how racial profiling is essential to law enforcement?

Still, an experienced stoic knows how to get through bad times (whether they involve a stretch in the intensive care unit or a presidential campaign as painful as this one — which in my state of New York involves the excruciating burden of Hillary Clinton vs. Rick Lazio). I have decided that between now and the election, I will reread all of P. G. Wodehouse.

It is impossible for me to stay in a bad mood when I am reading Wodehouse. When I begin to crack under the strain of insinuating political commercials, I intend simply to pass over for a little while into the innocent alternate universe of Bingo's dilemmas as he falls idiotically in love with a tea shop waitress, or a Bolshevik maiden, and applies to Bertie (meaning, of course, Jeeves) to help him sort it out.

I will revisit the school awards ceremony in which Bertie's shy, normally abstemious friend, asked at the last minute to bestow the prizes, fortifies himself with several drinks, and thus crocked, embarks on an orgy of drunken truth-telling that includes accusing the boy named winner of the Classics Prize of being a nasty little blighter who cheated to get it.

In the sweet, inconsequential neverland of Wodehouse, things like this occur: "'What ho!' I said, 'What ho!' said Monty. 'What ho! What ho!' 'What ho! What ho! What ho!' After that it seemed rather difficult to go on with the conversation."

A young clergyman is described as having the face of "a sheep with a secret sorrow." Sociopolitical generalization? This is as close as Wodehouse gets: "Unlike the male codfish, which, suddenly finding itself the parent of three million five hundred thousand little codfish, cheerfully resolves to love them all, the British aristocracy is apt to look with a somewhat jaundiced eye on its younger sons."

Well, the elder Bushes and the elder Gores did not give birth to codfish — nor did they look on their sons with a jaundiced eye. That's left for us to do.

I'll do it. But I continue to subscribe to William F. Buckley Jr.'s famous dictum: "I would rather be governed by the first three million five hundred thousand codfish in the Boston phone book than by the faculty of Harvard University."