Jewish World Review July 19, 2002 / 10 Menachem-Av, 5762
Robert L. Haught
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com -- WASHINGTON Those donkeys and elephants that decorate the streets of Washington have become targets of abuse, just the same as real live party animals in Congress.
As forecast in this column three months ago, the idea of placing 200 gaudy plastic sculptures around the city in a public arts exhibition to promote civic pride and tourism was an invitation for trouble. The local criminal element was quick to live up to its proud reputation.
Some might find justice in the fact that among the first victims was a figure labeled L.E. Phant, identified by his black vinyl briefcase as an "Attorney at Law." Shortly after he arrived at his location on K Street NW, someone stole the briefcase and tried to make off with his tortoise-shell glasses. All of this happened under the uncaring gaze of a green, winged donkey called "Pegassass."
In typical fashion for the District of Columbia government, the "Party Animals" project fell behind schedule and seems likely to go over budget. Each of the 800-pound polyurethane resin statues costs $2,200 to manufacture. The city's arts commission gave artists awards of $1,000, plus $200 for materials, for creative designs of the animals, symbols of the Democratic and Republican parties.
Not only does the damage caused by vandalism have to be paid for, many of the statues are either cracked or blistering in the hot summer sun. And then there's the matter of a lawsuit filed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) protesting treatment of circus animals.
If there are any of these sidewalk curiosities still standing by mid-October, they will be auctioned off at a "Raucous Caucus" to raise money for arts commission grants programs. So if you're looking for an elephantine lawyer with gold cuff links and a cell phone but no briefcase to add to your collection ...
Meanwhile, flesh and blood political figures are adding to the fun of watching the battle for control of the House and Senate.
In the political zoo known as Florida, the Republican secretary of state, Katherine Harris, has drawn an odd primary challenge in her race for a seat in Congress. Wayne Genthner, a charter boat captain, said he decided to run his pet dog, Percy, against her to "draw attention to voter disenfranchisement."
Political reporters in North Carolina found former Sen. Bob Dole growling like his canine pet, Leader II. Reacting to complaints from a GOP rival about "outsiders" coming to the state to campaign for his wife, Senate candidate Elizabeth Dole, the 1996 Republican presidential nominee said: "I'm her husband. Tell the guy to get a life."
If ever there was a bunch of politicians acting like monkeys, it was the group of 16 Democratic senators who stopped slamming Republicans for corporate abuses long enough to hop on corporate jets and fly from Washington to Nantucket, R.I., for a weekend whing-ding with 250 major campaign contributors. The Washington Post reported they left right after voting to close debate on legislation requiring more corporate accountability.
Among the hypocritical senators were Majority Leader Thomas A. Daschle, D-S.D., Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass., and Hillary R. Clinton, D-N.Y.
And from the United Kingdom comes word that Sarah Jessica Parker, star of
cable-TV's "Sex and the City," has ambitions to run for the U.S. Senate. A
newspaper, The Scotsman, quoted Parker as saying, "I'd like to represent
California or New York." Just what we need -- another sex kitten from New
York making our laws.
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07/12/02: Beat the Bush