Saturday, June 21, 2008

Holy Trinity

By Stephen Glass
The New Republic
January 27, 1997

The gospel of Saints Paul, Warren and Pete.

Susan is an 80-year-old widow. She had hip surgery five years ago, and since then she has spent most of her time indoors. Until two years ago, she had never shown much interest in politics and government. She subscribed to The Chicago Tribune to read Ann Landers and the "Tempo" section. She had voted for president only once, in 1960; she can't remember if she picked Kennedy or Nixon. Each morning, she woke up early, spent most of her day watching soap operas and talking to her three cats--Larry, Moe and Curley. Each night, after cleaning the dishes, she read romance novels in bed until she fell asleep. But on March 1, 1994, all that changed. Intrigued that " Larry King Live" was promising to talk about the British royal family's new mail-order catalog, Susan decided to stay awake past 8 p.m. "But Larry took forever to get to Prince Michael," she recalls. "Beforehand, he had Paul Tsongas and Warren Rudman talking about their group, the Concord Coalition. All of a sudden I saw what was happening. Both parties working together. It must be on target. These men were going to save my children."

Susan became, at once, a convert, a deficit-hawk of unmatched zeal. She has written, by her own estimate, more than 900 letters to congressmen asking for Social Security and other entitlements to be curtailed. In her wallet next to photos of her grandchildren, she has a picture of Warren Rudman. She can tell you what the deficit will be at noon on all major holidays. She even renamed her cats: Paul, Warren and Pete (the last one named after Pete Peterson, the Concord Coalition's president). What does she do when she's bored? She tries to convert others. "I trick my friends into giving me the phone lists of their senior citizen homes and then I call everyone on the list," she says. (She adds a request that her last name not be used so she doesn't lose these friends.)

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