Monday, November 01, 2004

The long national nightmare of the 2004 election is almost over, try to hang on

So I spent yesterday dressed up as a Republican poll watcher, telling all the black children that Halloween had been cancelled, and they would have all their toys taken away if they tried to trick-or-treat.

It used to be that when senators ran for president, the worry was that they lacked the executive experience that governors had. We no longer have to worry about that, because a presidential campaign is now the size of a Fortune 500 company, with a budget larger than Delaware’s and 10,000 lawyers.

Presidential campaigns are black holes, dragging lesser election fights, money, energy and real political discussion into themselves, while giving off neither light nor energy. I wouldn’t mind half so much if these campaigns functioned as national civics lessons, if they clarified our political philosophies and priorities, if this had been a national dialogue about the role of America in the world, the limits of our power abroad, the future of Social Security, how best to insure every American, etc etc. Needless to say, that hasn’t happened. We’ve spent less time debating the environment than we have whether Laura Bush is nicer than Teresa Heinz-Kerry (probably, but can you imagine someone you’re less likely to have an interesting conversation with?) So literally billions of dollars have been spent that could have gone to the Sierra Club, the ACLU or even Bush’s “faith-based” groups and done some actual good.

GeeDubya has talked endlessly of his “leadership” this year, and I can’t for the life of me figure what he means by the word. If you, like me, don’t understand why it is that people would follow this arrogant moron, well, Shrub doesn’t know how it happens either. You can see this in the shocked, petulant anger he displays when people question his honesty, his point of view, or his facts. They are, as the network exec told Howard Beale in “Network,” screwing with the primal forces of nature. Belief is what the world owes GeeDubya. He does not know how to talk to people who disagree with him, does not know how to persuade. Compare how uncomfortable he looked during the debates with how much he is clearly enjoying himself now, free to yell childish epithets at Kerry, in his absence of course, in front of carefully vetted crowds of the true believers. The man controlling the might and majesty of the most powerful empire the world has ever seen is spending his days declaring that John Kerry belongs in the “flip-flop hall of fame.” Bill Clinton brought more dignity to the office when he was being serviced by Monica Lewinsky; at least he was on the phone at the time, taking care of the nation’s business.

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