By Ian Shoales

Recently, the assistant public affairs officer at the American Embassy
in Iraq, a Stephen J. Thibeault, was quoted as saying, "This is the
Ted Bundy of countries."  _There's_ a soundbite after my own heart.
This man is the Ian Shoales of diplomats.  His quote is the Elvis of
sound bites, head and shoulders above the Pat Boone soundbites thrust
upon us by the news media hit parade.  I've _always_ felt that Ted
Bundy is the one true Elvis of serial killers -- he had that extra
little something that set him apart from the other serial killer
hopefuls out there.  Saddam Hussein, in the Tin Pan Alley of shorthand
media quips, has often been compared to Adolf Hitler (who was, of
course, the Elvis of dictators), but really, Hussein is more the Mick
Jagger of dictators -- darkness lite, like Bud Lite, the Elvis of
light beers.  Hussein might have had a shot at becoming the Elvis of
religious despots, but he preferred military uniforms to the flowing
robes of religious fundamentalism, thus leaving total Elvishood (in
the religious sense) to the late great Ayatollah Khomeini, the man who
Ted Bundy'ed Salman Rushdie into his present position -- the Elvis of
persecuted writers.

So who, you might ask, was the Elvis of presidents?  Kennedy,
definitely.  Lincoln was the Roy Orbison of presidents, Franklin
Roosevelt the Beatles of presidents, and Ronald Reagan was the Reagan
of presidents, one of a kind really, they broke the mold when they
made him.  I _hope_ they broke that mold.  It's my personal Elvis of
hopes.  George Bush, again, is the Pat Boone of presidents, making Dan
Quayle a kind of Pat Boone impersonator, I guess, or more precisely, a
Pat Boone wannabe.  I'd like to believe the preceding remark was the
Elvis of gratuitous Dan Quayle jokes, but we both know the truth,
don't we?  It was just another Elvis wannabe, topical humor-wise.

Like Madonna.  Everybody knows that Marilyn Monroe is the Elvis of
blondes.  Madonna might hold claim to the title of Elvis of Jayne
Mansfields, but what kind of title is that?  It's like calling Lassie
the Elvis of dogs.  It's true, but where does it get you?  Before you
know it, you're calling Star Trek the Elvis of bad teevee series from
the sixties, or Jeanne Kirkpatrick the Elvis of Republican women, or
the Bible the Elvis of documents.

All of this _might_ be true, but _if_ all of the above is true --
applying a little logic to this situation -- that Lassies is the Elvis
of dogs, then Benjie is Pat Boone, and Cujo is Jerry Lee Lewis.  This
makes Lost In Space the Fabian of bad teevee shows from the sixties,
Pat Buchanan the Howlin' Wolf of Republican commentators, and the
Koran the Jerry Lee Lewis of documents.  Whither then Rin Tin Tin,
William F. Buckley, and the Talmud?  Are they just so many Sinatras in
the forced metaphors of soundbite world?  I think not, America.

Because we all know that America is still the Elvis of nations, and
that we _revere_ the Elvises among us -- Hugh Hefner, the retired
Elvis of bachelors, the man who built an American empire devoted to
the relentless exposure of co-ed's mammary glands, the Elvis of
breasts.  Or Walt Disney, truly an Elvis for our times, who parlayed
an obsession with the butts of fuzzy animals into a multi-trillion
dollar empire which may yet overtake the world.  I don't pretend to
understand it, but it's definitely the Elvis of something.  America
_understands_ the tragedy of Donald Trump, who wanted to be the Elvis
of tycoons, but ended up the Monkees, the pseudo-Elvises to which the
New Kids On The Block aspire.  And we will reel under the S&L crisis,
the Elvis of scandals, we're still reeling under Viet Nam, the Elvis
of foreign entanglements, and we seem to be preparing to battle Iraq,
the Elvis of nothing special, either for the sake of oil, the Elvis of
fuels, or to curtail the antics of the tinhorn Ted Bundy the world
calls Saddam Hussein.  Either way, it's bound to be a new chapter in
the chronicles of Elvitude.  Stay tuned.  Like Elvis said, Only fools
walk in.  I guess we just can't help it.  I gotta go.


(c) 1990, Duck's Breath Mystery Theatre.

You can find new weekly pieces by Ian Shoales at Salon.