EVEN HIS WIFE CAN'T STAND HIM ANYMORE

We have to distrust each other. It's our only defense against betrayal.
--Tennessee Williams

If I had never trusted Dennis DeConcini, things would never have gotten so bad. That's why it's so hard to be around him these days. You sense the aura of approaching doom.

His eyes are set deep in their sockets. He walks in a slouch, almost like a man in a trance. His shoulders seem perpetually slumped. There are no longer any signs of self-worth.

Dennis DeConcini is a beaten man. His failings as a senator have overwhelmed him. Derision dogs his every step. Those who do not scorn him revile him. The rest consider him a laughable figure.

DeConcini has broken every promise he ever made to the voters of Arizona. This includes the most important one of all. "I will not run for more than two terms," he once said proudly, "because that would put me out of touch with the voters back home."

Even DeConcini's termagant wife, Susan, who fell in love with the power of being "Mrs. Senator," has finally departed from his side. Their long marriage is over.

So Dennis must trudge this final and lonely campaign trail alone. It is like the last trip of a tired and crooked sheriff to a shoot-out in the town square. Everyone knows it will end for him in a slow ride to Boot Hill.

And DeConcini obviously realizes it, too. That's why he sold out last week on the budget. He can't stand to leave Washington, D.C., now. He will lose his job as senator, but President Clinton will surely appoint him to some face-saving, meaningless post. For Clinton, picking mediocrities is easy.

DeConcini's actual ratings with voters are much lower than the polls show. It would be considered an act of mercy for Richard Mahoney to run against DeConcini in the primary and defeat him. Anything to end the carnage.

Susan DeConcini endured the Charles Keating Senate hearings. She stood feisty at her husband's side, demonstrating the defiance of a Mafia wife.

She held the family together through that crisis, directing each member of the family where to sit to garner the most sympathetic attention from the media and the cameras. It was Susan who decided on which days Dennis would be handed a grandchild to fondle during an intermission for the television cameras.

Her brash show helped get DeConcini through the hearings. The Senate didn't expel him from his seat as it should have.

But his reputation was left in tatters. His pride was shattered. The man who has posed as a candidate for head of the FBI and a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court had been exposed as the cheapest of political hustlers.

The storm ended. It was assumed DeConcini would finish out his term and leave office. But then a surprising thing happened.

After the hearings were over, Susan waited a decent interval, then walked out on him and their decades-long marriage.

Most can understand why. Susan was tired of living with a public lie.
You see, in order to be around Dennis DeConcini, you must live with the fiction that he actually did contribute something important to this state by being in the United States Senate.

The truth is that he was always in the minus pool. He has been a joke from the start.

So when Dennis announced to Susan that he felt there was a genuine need for him to run for one more Senate term, Susan snorted. She voted instantly with her feet. She packed up her things and moved out of their home in McLain, Virginia.

Sing no sad songs for Susan. This is not one of those marriages where you have to worry about one partner being caught on the short end financially.

Both Dennis and Susan have more money salted away than either could spend in a lifetime--even if they had bought heavily into Keating's bogus bonds.

Susan took a walk because she knows better than anyone that there are no urgent calls for Dennis to run again. She knew there were no calls because she was the one who answered all the phone calls that counted.

So she knew that the only man calling was Earl Katz of Tucson, DeConcini's chief fund raiser and bagman. It was like the sound of one hand clapping.

Sure, Earl Katz wanted Dennis to run again. Katz remains convinced DeConcini's wonderful because DeConcini wangled Katz's son, Paul Katz, a seat on the Maricopa County Superior Court bench. Overnight, DeConcini turned an inexperienced lawyer into a sitting judge.

This is just one example of the magnificent things DeConcini accomplished for this state. Friends like Earl Katz were rewarded. Friends like Charlie Keating were protected. Ron Ober is another who wants DeConcini to run again. Don't ever forget Ron Ober. Slick Ron has been one of DeConcini's campaign managers off and on through all the senator's years in Washington, D.C. The only people following DeConcini these days are those still on his personal payroll. These are people who depend upon him for continued Washington employment. Their loyalty to DeConcini is the same as an employee of General Motors or IBM who wants the firm to stay in business.

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