Disturbingly, the more letters I read, the more the latter became an inescapable conclusion.
Not since I taught high school have I seen such insipid accolades put to paper. Reading Harriet's letters to Dubya, I felt oddly uncomfortable, like I was reading notes of unrequited love. I felt as though I was reading letters to the captain of the football team (cute, but not so bright), written by the adoring, bookish girl, whose homework the captain was always welcome to copy.
"You are the best Governor ever deserving of great respect!" (Exclamation point hers.) Thus gushed Harriet in a belated birthday card (complete with just the cutest picture of a sad-eyed puppy dog) from 1997. To close, Harriet teased, "At least for thirty days you are not younger than me." Tee-hee-hee.
In another card, Harriet took the time to hope that "Jenna and Barbara recognize that their parents are 'cool' as do the rest of us." Cool? That's the best she could do? What about rad? Groovy? Bitchin'? How about awesome (as in "our God is an awesome God")?
At any rate, Harriet thought Dubya was so "cool" that she just couldn't help but exclaim, "Texas is blessed!" Verily, Dubya was God's gift to Texas, just as he is now His gift to the entire United States. Nay, the world! All of us are blessed to be ruled by Dubya the Divine.
Is it getting hot in here? All that's missing are some X's and O's.
In 1997, Harriet wrote to the governor, this time on her firm's letterhead, thanking Dubya for a letter he had written on a friend's behalf. The letter was typewritten, professional, and, but for an obligatory exclamation point(!), subdued. But poor Harriet just couldn't help herself. At the bottom of the letter, Harriet enthusiastically scrawled, "You and Laura are the greatest!" (Emphasis Harriet's.)
Also 1997, while serving as Chair of the Texas Lottery, Harriet wrote yet another thank you note to governor Dubya, who was then Harriet's boss. Staying true to her giddy, Dubya-adulating self, Harriet proclaimed to the governor, "You are the best!" ("P.S. Do you think I'm cute?")
In a handwritten letter to Dubya from 1995, also written on her firm's letterhead, Harriet thanked the governor for taking the time "to visit in the office and on the plane back. Cool!" Again with the cool, exclamation point? Why not dot her I's with hearts while she's at it? How about some smiley faces?
Is this really how a highly educated woman - the alleged possessor of a great legal mind - addressed the governor of Texas? You're cool? Harriet sounds more like a teenage girl, passing a note in class to the boy she so desperately wants to like her. ("Thanks for giving me a ride home in your Camero, Dubya. It was so cool!") Can you imagine Sandra Day O'Connor swooning at a governor's feet? Ruth Bader Ginsberg? Antonin Scalia?
After reading Harriet's embarrassing letters, I started to think that maybe Dubya actually could predict that Harriet's mind would remain unchanged twenty years from now. After all, it would appear that Harriet's emotional development stopped more than forty years ago. Who's to say that her intellect isn't similarly stunted?
Okay, maybe I'm being a bit unfair. Maybe Harriet isn't an emotionally stunted teenager in middle-aged clothing with an all-consuming crush on Dubya.
Maybe, instead, she's just a slobbering sycophant.