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David Shapiro

By David Shapiro

Saturday, October 10, 1998

Political use of column
was embarrassing

EVEN though I had been warned about it, it stunned me to see the estimable Gladys Brandt on the TV reading from one of my columns for a Ben Cayetano campaign commercial.

Surrounded by a group of stern-looking Hawaiians -- including a couple I personally know to be pussycats -- Brandt read how I thought Cayetano deserves credit for having the courage to order the attorney general's investigation of the Bishop Estate. As she read, the camera zoomed in on the headline and my mug shot.

The last place a journalist wants to be is in a political commercial. It was embarrassing and, boy, I couldn't believe how the TV camera adds 10 pounds to a guy's mug shot. But I had no real beef with the Cayetano people.

They represented what I wrote accurately and I stand by it. They didn't claim that I had endorsed Cayetano for re-election, which I hadn't. I still haven't figured out who I'm going to vote for and wouldn't presume to tell anybody else how to vote.

Mike Liu, the Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, built his campaign around what Bud Smyser wrote about him in the Star-Bulletin and it wouldn't have been fair to tell the Cayetano people that they couldn't make similar use of my column.

But it astounded me that somebody -- the governor of the state, no less -- would spend tens of thousands of dollars to tell people what I think. All credible evidence tells me that nobody gives a rat's petootie what I think.

It was enough to cure me of writing about politics -- for this week, anyway. I decided to retreat to the safety of a cute story about my Shar-pei Bingo.

The little fellow has rarely been in our backyard. The side yard and patio give him plenty of space to run around and I want to limit how much yard I have to patrol to clean up after him.

But I had to give Bingo his bath in the back this week because somebody moved the hose there from the driveway faucet I usually use.

I parked myself in a lawn chair, set up my sponges and shampoo, tied Bingo's leash to the chair -- or so I thought -- and turned on the water. When I reached back to grab the tethered dog, it turned out that I had somehow managed to tie Bingo's leash to thin air. He was 20 yards away soaking up the big yard he had dreamed of exploring for years.

He maniacally sniffed everything in sight. He marked his territory on every plant, stump and garden tool. Every time I approached him, he took off like a shot and broke into a cocky trot as soon as he was a safe distance away. He knew I couldn't catch him in a million years and nobody else was home to help me out. He was deaf to my commands to "come."

I worried about it only because I suspected there might be a breach in the fence where he could get out into the street.

SO I followed the dog around the yard lecturing him on the likely consequences of his disobedience. Bingo dashed to the far corner of the yard. Confident that he was well beyond my reach, he assumed his trademark squat and had himself a long, luxurious bowel movement that produced a load that looked like it came from an animal three times his size.

Given his limited arsenal of communications options, this was Bingo's way of telling me what he thought of what I had to say. I had to ask again: Why in the world would the governor's media wizards spend all that money to drive the entire TV-viewing public to crap on what I think?

David Shapiro is managing editor of the Star-Bulletin.
He can be reached by e-mail at editor@starbulletin.com.

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