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Monday, February 25, 2002

A Bad Hare Day - A Fable

How Paul McConnell Challenged Nancy Pelosi for the Democratic Nomination

By Betsey Culp

Once upon a time – you know the story – there was a Hare and a Tortoise.

The Hare was a pretty thing named Nancy, with big brown eyes that seldom blinked and a carefully firm smile. Nancy was a Congresswoman.

Nancy was also a Whip, which doesn’t sound very nice but is a Very Good Thing when you are trying to make your way in politics. Nancy was the First Lady Whip, a Much Better Thing to be than the First Lady, with or without a whip.

It turned out that Nancy was not only good at whipping her fellow Representatives into shape – nicely, of course – but she was also skilled at scurrying around, gathering baskets of money for her Party. Nancy was not only a Whip; she was also a Fundraiser.

And therefore, Nancy was a Very Good Person to have in Congress. For her Party, that is.

But Nancy lived in a democracy, which meant that every two years, in order to remain in Congress, in order to continue whipping and gathering, she must Run a Race. Not only Run a Race, but Win One.

No problem, she said, her big brown eyes wide, her white teeth gleaming. No problem. I am the Incumbent. I have a Web Site.

Nancy leaned back in her chair in Washington, sizing up the growing pile of Campaign Contributions; weighing the value of her Colleagues’ Votes, and closing her ears to her Constituents’ Complaints.

But three thousand miles away, the race had already begun. Five little creatures set out on the long, long journey to the finish line. Two of them – a Frog named Jay and a Spider named Ira – dawdled along the wayside, saving their energy for the final days of the race. Mike the German Shepherd and Johnny Jackal tussled energetically, trying to wear each other out in the early stages. And a young Tortoise named Paul moved slowly away from the starting line, singing to himself as went.

At first, no one listened to his songs. But that didn’t bother Paul. He sang a pretty ditty about a place called The Presidio and a melancholy dirge called “Hunters Point.” When the sun came out, he danced to the Transportation Tango; if it rained, he hummed the Health Care Hum.

As Paul the Tortoise traveled toward the first checkpoint, he grinned and waved at the spectators. They grinned and waved back at him. Before long, the people on the sidelines began to sing along, swaying to the rhythm of Paul’s steady pace.

Meanwhile, across the country in Washington, Nancy leaned back in her chair, weighing her Campaign Contributions and counting her Colleagues’ Votes. The race had many months to go. There was no need to hurry.

Paul the Tortoise continued to follow the course, greeting everyone he passed and asking them about their lives and dreams. He handed out campaign stickers to cyclists, hometown photographs to people in the Castro. Seniors loved his silver kazoos. And the people of the Bayview welcomed his concern for their health.

And now, as the opening heat comes to an end, Important Questions arise. Will Nancy notice that her victory is Far From Certain? Will she begin to Run the Race in earnest? Will Paul stumble before he reaches the Finish Line? Will a Washington Web Site beat a Local Handshake?

Or was Aesop right?


Just for the record, the six candidates running for Congress in the 8th District this March are:

Nancy Pelosi, Dem.

Paul McConnell, Dem.

G. Michael German, Rep.

John Jenkel, Rep.

Jay Pond, Green

Ira Spivack, Lib.