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St. James Baker arrives to work another miracle


St. James will save him.

St. James will heal him and make him strong.

St. James Baker will lay his hands upon the troubled brow of George Bush and make him whole again.

He has done it before.

In 1988, they called George Bush a wimp. But St. James changed all that.

Ably assisted by Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater -- the Bobbsey Twins as conceived by Darth Vadar -- James Baker did what it took.

And it took Willie Horton and the Pledge to the Flag and rumors that Dukakis was crazy.

It took dirt. It took mud.

But none of that mud ever splattered on Baker.

And that is why they call him St. James.

James Baker was the chairman of the 1988 Bush campaign. He ran things.

It would be accurate to say that Baker made far more decisions in that campaign than did Bush.

(Though Baker did not get an opportunity to veto Dan Quayle. Baker insists Bush never told him in advance he was going to pick Quayle as his running mate. But then Baker has a real talent for distancing himself from bad decisions.)

All the Bush people heatedly point out today that their campaign never ran a Willie Horton TV ad.

And that is correct.

Something called the National Security Political Action Committee, also known as Americans for Bush, did the dirty work.

It ran an ad with glowering pictures of Horton and the words "kidnapping," "stabbing" and "raping" appearing on the screen as the announcer told you how Mike Dukakis let this evil man out of prison.

"When we're through, people are going to think that Willie Horton is Michael Dukakis' nephew," the man who put together the ad said.

The group notified James Baker that its Willie Horton commercial would run for the next 28 days.

And after 25 days, James Baker sent a letter to the group announcing his official disapproval and asking the group to cease running its ad.

After 25 days.

Pure St. James! Get the benefit of the dirty ad. Then wash your hands of it. And walk away clean.

His friends and enemies agreed: The guy was a genius.

And the press never blamed Baker for the dirty work.

That's what Atwater and Ailes were there for. They were the guys who caught the heat.

Leaving Baker and Bush looking cool and clean. So they could run thenation and the world.

The press loves St. James. Baker knows how to schmooze with reporters, joke with them, give them the background briefings and little leaks they so adore.

And given the job he has done as secretary of state, there has not been a whole lot to criticize.

Baker got a little overshadowed by Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney during the gulf war, but that was to be expected.

And Baker did not care. Let Cheney remind people of war. Baker would remind them of peace.

During his term in office, he wrote in a letter yesterday, there has been "a fundamental watershed in world politics."

"In this short period of time the strategic verities of the post-World War II era were shattered," he wrote. "The Cold War ended. The division of Europe was undone. The Soviet empire collapsed, and the Soviet Union dissolved."

And who helped it all along?

St. James!

He could not say that, of course.

Instead, he tossed a bone to the president and said everything had been accomplished through the "very active and dynamic diplomacy" that George Bush had "mandated."

Baker went on to claim some other accomplishments: Central America, Cambodia, disarmament, free-trade pacts.

Though there are still some problems, to be sure: Bosnia and Herzegovina. Rumors of death camps. A gulf still capable of being plunged into chaos by Saddam Hussein. A fragile peace between Israel and its neighbors.

So now is clearly the time.

To quit.

Huh? Why?

Because George Bush is down 26 points in the polls -- that's why!

And what is world peace compared to that?

So St. James will return to the Bush campaign.

L And all he needs to do is the one thing that saints do best:

Work a miracle.

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