The doc told me I had to cut back on my booze intake, so now I tell the bartender to give me my Old Frothingslosh (“The Pale, Stale Ale with the Foam on the Bottom!”) in a bigger glass, so I can tell the quackster I’m only drinking half the number I used to.

I should have been in the office, but clients have been scarce in the P.I. business, and I haven’t even used one of my new business cards: “Dick Richards, Professional Instigator — When You Really Need Help and Are Willing to Pay Twice the Going Rate for It.”

So I was on my usual stool at Pete’s Parlor of Pour, the only joint that won’t toss me out on sight, drowning my economy-induced sorrows while my bar tab still had a heartbeat.

Then she was there, slithering onto the bar stool next to me, wearing a leather outfit that fit her much better than it had the original cows.

I guess you’re not from PETA, I said, displaying the type of insight that had made me famous across four city blocks and a dozen bus stops.

“No,” she breathed huskily, “I’m an agent of R.I.N.O., and I’m licensed to thrill.”

Ah, I replied, Republicans In Need of Options. I thought your organization had folded up shop after the last election.

“No, our membership may change, but The Cause endures. We know that only compromise will produce lasting legislative results.”

I’ll be sure to tell Nancy Pelosi that the next time I see her. She was a master of reaching across the aisle, but all she had to offer when she did it was a punch in the snoot.

“You’re being awfully harsh and judgmental. How do you expect to get things done?”

Well, that’s just me. I worry less about “getting things done” and more about what kind of things should get done.

There’s no point in passing laws just to pat yourself on the back if what you did doesn’t improve the situation — or, like Obamacare, makes it worse.

In fact, that’s what politics should be all about. You run for office saying this is what you want to do, and then if the voters elect you, you try your hardest to do it.

Democrats understand that, and one of the things I admire about them is that they work hard to fulfill their promises.

Of course, I almost always disagree with what they want to do, but you can’t say they aren’t sincere about their quest to make government bigger, take money away from the most successful job-creating members of society to fund their plans, and produce large groups of people dependent on government spending who will keep voting for them to keep the checks coming their way.

Of course, the money is running out now, but many people think they can keep the good times rolling, and Democrats have no interest whatsoever in making them face reality.

Republicans, on the other hand, have a downer message: We can’t go on spending income you don’t have and never will have if we keep on living the way we are.

But lots of people want to be told comforting lies rather than harsh truths. It’s just human nature.

So they believe the people who tell them that changing Medicare and Medicaid to keep them from running out of money is “destroying” them, when in truth the surest way to really destroy them is to let them continue as they are.

“So what if that’s true? We can’t make changes unless we get elected, and who will elect someone who says things people don’t want to hear?”

Think about what you’re saying. If Americans have really gotten to be the kind of people who would rather believe comforting lies than harsh truths, and who are unable to set aside today’s desires to build for the future, then we don’t have much of a chance either for ourselves or our children.

We have to tell people the truth. We can’t make them act on it, to be sure, but leading them to believe that these entitlements can go on as they are presently constructed is to treat Americans as children, not responsible adults.

“You always were stubborn about things like that.”

Yeah, it’s a real flaw in my lack of character. Why are you asking my advice, anyway?

“Well, as our name makes plain, my group is seriously worried that the Republicans haven’t got anybody who wants to run for president who can compete with the Democratic candidate. We need more options, someone more charismatic and presentable, without a history that can be examined and criticized. The current crop is too flawed.”

OK, I get it. It doesn’t matter if the GOP puts up someone with a record of accomplishment in either private life or government service and good ideas for fixing our current problems, if that person doesn’t hit 10 on the glamour scale.

“Don’t you ever watch ‘American Idol’ or ‘Survivor’? Plain old competence and character just don’t cut it unless you can project the right image and manipulate your supporters.”

You seem to think you can hide the dangers we face here and abroad behind a facade. Well, the current Oval Office occupant is a master of that, and look where it’s getting us.

I think the GOP should run the most competent candidate it has, even if that person is a wonk whose face would stop a clock. Remember our greatest president was routinely reviled as downright ugly — but Abe Lincoln saved the country when no one else could do it.

“So? You think Old Horseface could get elected today?”

Maybe not. But that says a lot more about us than him. And about our prospects for the future, too.

M.D. Harmon is an editorial writer. He can be contacted at 791-6482 or at:

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