WITH THE surprisingly abrupt withdrawal of H. Ross Perot from the presidential campaign, President Bush and his advisers will surely attempt a new, 1992-style Southern Strategy to try to put an electoral hurting on Bill Clinton and Al Gore in their own Dixie backyards.
Mr. Perot might have gummed up the works in several states of the Old Confederacy -- particularly in the Bush and Perot home state of Texas -- but now all territory below the Mason-Dixon line is up for grabs again.
Nonpartisan political junkies like myself, of course, are hoping for some old-fashioned hardball.
But aside from the hardball, it's clear that Mr. Bush will need a solid, catchy theme song that strikes just the right chord with voters.
And just what should the president's theme song be?
Well, obviously something country and western, or at least with a strong country rock tinge. Many of the voters Mr. Bush and his opponent are battling for are C&W; fans. So it surely wouldn't be very smart for Mr. Bush to opt for a rap, heavy metal or new wave.
But let's get to particulars.
I prefer the incomparable Hank Williams Jr.'s clever and timely "Fax Me a Beer," from his "Maverick" album. I've already written to the White House suggesting that Mr. Bush nail it down before the Democrat talks Mr. Williams into giving him the rights to the song.
Why this particular ditty? For many good reasons.
The very idea of being faxed a beer immediately brings a chuckle. Of course, a good bottle or can of beer can't yet be faxed across the country, or even across the street.
This doesn't mean, of course, that if we get American technology cranked back up to speed, such liquid wonders can't occur during the lifetime of the average voter.
Thus there's an inherent optimism in the song. Right now, the Japanese, the Germans and the Koreans can't fax each other beers, either. So we're starting off even-steven, with a funny (yet serious) goal in mind.
Besides, the song's whole, ingenious concept implies a strong faith that the U.S. can and will make an economic, jobs-producing rebound, outstripping foreign competitors while maintaining our folksy, twangy touch.
But what about the idea of promoting alcohol use with such a song. After all, there would be precious little reason to strive to make the technological breakthroughs just for show. People will want to drink one or more beers if and when American high-tech comes through.
This, too, would ultimately be to the president's advantage.
The average American voter is fed up with having all of his or her pleasures and ways of life either banned or whined about.
So after "Fax Me a Beer" is played at rallies and during TV campaign commercials, Mr. Bush should appear -- contentedly drinking a cold one.
It's a quiet, relatively easy way for our leader to show that he's not afraid of being politically incorrect by drinking moderately yet lustily.
Naturally, a strategy centered around a fun song lacks the surface sophistication that a "New World Order" theme might have. But that's immaterial.
Optimism, jobs and faith in our resilient U.S. can-do spirit will be the 1992 campaign's salient theme.
And "Fax Me a Beer" fits in jauntily and perfectly!
Stephen Roberts writes (by fax) from Clinton, N.Y.