By Ned Cantwell: State columnist
An exhaustive political season and its climatic November showdown still have people talking. Snippets of conversations that might take place at Thanksgiving dinner tables around New Mexico.
At a mansion in Santa Fe:
“The thing I am most grateful about, and I think most New Mexicans are grateful about, is the great progress this wonderful state has made in the past few years. If you look at where we used to be and where we are now, it is truly amazing.
“Look, if you are going to be honest about it, you know this doesn’t happen without solid leadership and when I say leadership, I mean the leadership of your governor, and your dad and your husband.
“The people saw the spaceport and the bullet train and heard the governor say ‘year of the kids’ and ‘year of the water’ and all that catchy slogan stuff and they know he is a humble guy who rides his little horse and can tell jokes on himself. So 68 percent voted for him! But we’re not done! We need to make this the clean energy state. We need to raise the minimum wage. We need…
““Bill, shut up and pass the gravy.”
At a home in Albuquerque:
“Aunt Heather, Aunt Heather, look at me. I learned a new impression. ‘Duuuhhh, ummmm, eeerrrr, aaaahhhh, sputter sputter.”
“Oh, you silly. Who are you impersonating?”
“You know, Mrs. Madrid, that twit you debated on television.”
“Susie! You stop that! First of all, you do not call Mrs. Madrid a ‘twit.’ I know you may have overheard me say something like that during the campaign, dear, but that was just political talk. Political talk is not like regular talk. You can say nasty things when you are a politician and still smile and pretend you are not mean.
“Also, Susie, Mrs. Madrid may have had a hard time answering a couple of my questions. But that happens, and you should not make fun of her just because she was a little tongue-tied. It is really not a Christian thing to do, young lady!”
“But Aunt Heather, you made fun of her. You paid that man at the television station a whole lot of money so he could run over and over and over that film that made Mrs. Madrid look like an idiot. I don’t get it. How come is it OK for you to be ugly to Mrs. Madrid but I can’t?”
“Have some more mashed potatoes, dear.”
At a fancy New Mexico restaurant:
An obscure columnist approaches a table where John Dendahl is having dinner with family and friends.
“Mr. Dendahl, when you got into the race the conventional wisdom was you were on a mission from national GOP leaders to destroy Bill Richardson’s reputation. The theory was you knew you couldn’t win, but that you were an accomplished hatchet man who could throw more mud than a road construction company. They said you had as much chance of winning as the New Mexico Lobos at a science fair, but Richardson would come out of this bloodied.
“I bought into that argument and we were all wrong. You actually conducted yourself with more class than most. It was Democratic Chairman John Wertheim who embarrassed himself and his party with totally unfounded personal attacks on you. I want to apologize.”
As he walks away, the writer hears Dendahl ask a companion, “Who the hell was that nutcase?”