Columba Bush's smuggling adventures causing Ms. Roberta sleepless nights

By Roberta Smith


The recent reports of Ms. Columba's recent smuggling adventures have troubled poor Ms. Roberta's sleep.

Pure'n'simple, that's just what it seems the Florida Guv's wife intended-to unlawfully smuggle-and Ms. Roberta is not loathe to describe it as such because, given our recent history, it is easy for her to imagine this is just what the New York Times or the Washington Post would  have you call it, had you or Ms. Roberta or anyone else with, let's say a surname like "Minton" or "Winton" (or. and especially if, "Clinton," or for that matter, any daughter-in-law of a former Democrat prez) been caught doing what Columba Bush just did.

Oh my! it would be: "Ms. Minton arrested red-handed! smuggling! foreign-made! products into OUR United States! Capitol rife with speculation as to why former Demo prez daughter-in-law spending fortune abroad!"

Ms. Roberta has reason to fear that had she done the same thing, she'd be quite "up against the wall" just as fast as any customs official could say "forfeiture"-- and so, she ventures, would you.

These bad dreams just don't go away! Ms. Roberta cannot blot out the shocked expression she once saw on the face of the man standing next to her at U.S. Customs; the man whose exquisite Mexican-made sterling tea set (it was oh-so-complete and so stunningly made) was summarily confiscated by customs because the poor man, in an "exercise of bad judgment" (that was Columba's first explanation) "forgot" to declare it when reentering the U.S. The official remarked to us all as to how they acquire lots of especially nice sterling this way. "We have quite a wonderful collection of tea sets," he said.

By the way, this nice stuff is supposed to be sold at public auction-but notice how in Columba's case the public wasn't allowed even so much as a peek, let alone a crack at picking any of it up. (Ms. Roberta admits she would have liked to have seen this stuff herself, if only to gain fresh insight into just what the governor's wife thinks is so precious that it's more valuable to her than obeying the law.) But that's a lucky woman, that Bush-missus; she was allowed to keep the booty by paying a fine-no big sweat for a woman who's just spent nearly 20K on Parisian finery. And I really mean it-this Columba, she's one lucky pampered poodle all right, because in this country, right here in these United States, there are teachers and nurses and store clerks who don't see that much money for an entire year's-worth of labor.

But still, Ms. Roberta must ask what has happened to this country? Not so long ago we taxpayers were forced to empty our pockets (to the tune of 50 million, and still climbing) on the Republican-appointed OIC and the Republican-selected Starr, because the president supposedly perjured himself (and Ms. Roberta says supposedly because technically speaking, she doesn't think he did) while attempting to conceal a perfectly stupid but by no means illegal act, and now we are here being treated to this spectacle of Columba not only admitting to have deliberately engaged in an illegal act, but also telling a series of wildly contradictory stories in an open and bald-faced attempt to cover it up and explain it away. See? When measured against our National Penile Perscrutinator Kenny Starr's definition of lying (and which definition-- the Prez misled the American Public! Impeach! Impeach!--was seconded by every Republican in the House) Columba and the guv-spouse must be regarded as egregious, unrepentantly shameless liars!

So now Ms. Roberta wants to know:  Where is the media now? Those same media plugs who howled for the president's head and then sat on their thumbs when poor Julie Hiatt Steele was indicted by Kenny Starr, NOT for lying under oath, NOT for breaking any law, but merely for lying to a reporter-and off the record, no less! (is lying to reporters now become a "right" confined only to well-healed politicians?)  Hey you! Jackie Judd! Where'd you go, my dear woman?  Why aren't you out there in front of the governor's manse, smirking and jabbering and pointing out that after all, Columba didn't just lie, she admittedly and intentionally broke the law? (Sam Donaldson, not so strangely enough, seems completely unable to find his tongue.)

It wasn't that long ago that we were treated to the spectacle of the Republicans standing up en masse and sobbing before the cameras as to how it wasn't the president's 'wrongdoing' that concerned them so much as his misleading the public." Impeach! Impeach!

How now is it different with the Florida Shrubsters? Well, for one thing, Ms. Roberta must point out that what Columba did was clearly illegal. And she knew it was illegal. There's a beginning. And then we have all those stories the Bush flacks fobbed onto us in their duplicitous attempt to wash away Columba's misdeeds. The best the Shrub flacks could come up with at first was the altogether lame excuse that Columba had merely "exercised bad judgment" but when that didn't fly, Jeb came out with a new and different story:  His "dearly beloved spouse" tried to smuggle her booty past customs because she didn't want him to know about all the dough she'd blown on her Parisian spending spree. (Ms. Roberta calls this the Dagwood and Blondie gambit-straight from the comics.)

However, this latter explanation invites even more serious questions: If this last story has merit, then how would Jeb never find out?  Ms. Roberta has to ask: doesn't somebody review the checkbooks in that house? Or the credit card slips? Or the bank balances? Did the dearly beloved Ms. Columba intend to lie for the rest of her life? Ms. Roberta simply has to exclaim, "Really! What sort of family values are these?

However, if  it's true that the suddenly gone fluffy-headed Ms. Columba really lied to customs to conceal her purchases from her beloved Jeb, the following questions surely beg for answers: Were Columba's goods purchased by check? Whose check? Which bank? A United States bank?  Or a foreign bank? Or by credit card? Issued by a U.S. bank, or a foreign bank?  A Channel Islands Bank? And if not by check or credit card, did she perchance pay for her purchases with cash? And if with cash, then did Columba complete the requisite currency transport form that requires the traveler to state, under oath, whether she is carrying more than $10,000 in cash or cash equivalents (cashier's check, sight draft) out of the country? Well, hasn't anyone asked? If not, then the so-called establishment media MUST tell us why not!

Ms. Roberta wonders if there are others who possess greater insights into our currency transport procedures. And have any investigative reporters thought to ask the merchants Columba dealt with abroad about how she paid for her purchases? Credit card? Cashier's Check? Sight draft? Etc. Etc.

As a final note, Ms. Roberta has also heard tell that "Florida Use tax" is owed on the goods Ms. Columba purchased abroad and she presumes there are others just as curious to know whether the Bushes, like they, have in fact paid their use tax. So Ms. Roberta feels it is entirely proper to inquire of the Florida Bushes: Well, did she or not?

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