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Jewish World Review August 28, 2002/ 20 Elul, 5762

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker
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Consumer Reports

Janet Reno provides cure for insomnia AND capitalism | Few naps have been as gratifying as the one I enjoyed during a recent Q & A with Florida gubernatorial candidate Janet Reno.

That voice, so soft. That delivery, so smooth. All I needed to collapse into a Van Winkle slumber was a Heartbeat Bear tucked beneath my cheek.

And this is the candidate who is going to animate the Democratic base? Whose constituents would be reposing in which morgue?

Truthfully, picking on Reno is no fun. It doesn't feel kosher to deconstruct a 6-foot-1 woman with Parkinson's disease, especially given her well-documented access to flame throwers. So let me begin by saying something pleasant: Janet Reno is the nicest socialist I ever met.

She wants to save the world - the children, the minorities, the elderly, the alligators, the gay baby whales for Jesus. No, scratch that. I made that up. But the Everglades, yes, she mentioned that, and education and Tinker Bell (there I go again) andandand, oh, just everything.

How? Who knows? Reno could have laid out a 10-point plan for the colonization of Mars for all I know. Her manner of speaking - no punctuation, no paragraph breaks, no modulation - would induce narcolepsy at Starbucks.

Whether she's talking about subsidizing health care to children in families with incomes up to $54,000 - which might cause one's blood pressure to rise if one were awake - or, say, the quality of dirt in the tire tread of her little red truck, there's no change of voice, tone or facial expression.

She makes deadpan look Cheshire-esque. As obfuscatory statist strategy, her monotone is effective. Listeners are bound to miss the significant along with the insignificant.

But enough about style. Here's the substance of what a Gov. Reno would do if elected, a few nuggets of which I managed to glean after surreptitiously mainlining a small thermos of espresso.

Basically, the state will take care of everything and everyone. In Reno's nanny state, babies won't just have mommies and mommies, I mean daddies. They'll also have well-paid social workers to help prevent abuse and neglect.

When babies become little people and go to school, they'll have smaller classrooms and well-paid teachers. And when the few stray from the path of righteousness, they'll have well-paid state workers to intervene and later in life, should the state fail, they'll have well-paid legal representation to prevent further injustice, chiefly, application of the death penalty.

Reno and I agree in our opposition to the death penalty, but for different reasons. I think murdering, raping scumbags should suffer as much as their victims did, only longer and preferably without air-conditioning.

For Reno, the death penalty is unfair because, darn it, life is unfair. Some children, after all, are born to better parents and better homes, a detail that, one senses, a Gov. Reno will try to adjust through some strategic state intervention. Not that there's anything wrong with that, if you're a socialist.

The problem, of course, is that all of these well-paid people will be expecting money attached to the promise. Details. Money will come from somewhere and most people who work for a living know exactly where that is. Reno didn't say.

Not that Floridians' wallets are really at risk, even if Reno should win. Florida's Republican legislature isn't likely to cooperate in underwriting Reno's utopia. Which leads one to wonder, what can she be thinking?

Owing to her 95 percent name recognition and Palm Beach County, where voters have been practicing for months with new, improved ballots, Reno may be able to beat her leading Democratic primary opponent, Tampa attorney Bill McBride, even though he is clearly the more practical candidate. Like Reno, he wants to improve education, health and child welfare, but he offers substantive proposals for funding them, including a 50-cent per pack cigarette tax.

But Reno will never unseat Jeb Bush, who, if not beloved, is at least of this planet. If Reno really loves Florida with all her heart and soul, as she has sworn, she'll endorse McBride, have a nice little chat with herself and enjoy the nap: "I am Janet Reno and I'm getting sleepy."

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