Sunday, October 28, 2012

Electile Dysfunction

It won't be long, thank God, before the final act of  “our long national nightmare," as Gerald Ford characterized the American Constitutional crisis caused by Richard Nixon being caught with his hand in the Democrats' cookie drawer.

In this case, of course, I refer to the quadrennial marathon of mendacity and mediocrity we refer to as presidential elections.  Only a few very long days left before a largely dispirited America trudges wearily to the polls and selects two from Column B or two from Column B-minus.  Column A, regrettably, is only intermittently (no pun intended) available.

We've endured the not-so-great debates, less policy discussions than snapping-turtle fights, in which the presidential and vice-presidential candidates squabbled savagely over how their opponents had flip-flopped on various mildly important issues (as though the ability to change one's mind disqualifies one for public office) while floating gentle platitudes and generalities toward things that actually matter: the deficit, the war in Afghanistan, the extra-judicial murder of Afghani and Pakistani civilians with drones.  (“I agree with the president about drones,”) Mittens murmured.

The president he agrees with, by the way, is the same president who made noises about trying members of the Bush administration for, uhhhhh, waterboarding civilians.  I'm willing to admit that waterboarding is no day at even the world's worst beach, but offered a choice between it and being taken off the board permanently as collateral damage in a drone attack, I'll line up for the bucket of water and the towel every time.

So: we're heading toward sixteen trillion in the hole.  Not a real campaign issue.  Getting pasted in the longest war of our history.  Not a real campaign issue.  Bill of Rights about half-shredded, thanks to Bush and the Patriot Act, abetted by the present administration.  Not a campaign issue.  Schools dumbed down to vocational level and about a quarter of our students failing to graduate anyway.  Not a campaign issue (if you discount Obama saying to Romney, “You said we don't need more teachers” and Romney saying, “I did not.”)  African-American and Hispanic kids (especially boys) failing to graduate at hair-raising rates. Not a campaign issue.  Tech companies and others hiring foreign nationals because, despite the level of American unemployment, they can't find qualified American citizens.  Not a campaign issue.

Hundreds of billions in TARP funds being “paid back” by banks who are borrowing from other government programs the funds they're using to pay the government back.  It's like I take a dollar from your left pocket, tell you I owe you a dollar, and then take another dollar from your right pocket, give it back to you, and call us even. Not a real campaign issue.

Gay marriage?  Now there's an issue Obama can sink his teeth into.  (Never mind that the Supreme Court is about to rule on it and the president can't do a thing about it.)  Self-deportation?  Romney can knock that one out of the park.  Getting the government out of our bedrooms and/or securing the borders?  Not real campaign issues.

This is the election in which the political father of the ObamaCare model, former Massachusetts Governor Mittens, campaigned against his own program.  This is the election in which the Republican vice-presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (who is, as someone once said of Nixon, “an old man's idea of a young man”) floated a deficit-killer budget with enormous increases in defense.  This is the election in which the so-called “liberal media” ran headline stories about how much money Romney's campaign was raising but backed off the issue when Obama began to outraise him.

I have to tell you, there was something reassuring in old Nixon burglarizing the Democratic National Committee's offices.  It suggested that there were actual differences between the two sides, that there was a genuine choice for voters.  These days, when a campaign costs billions and billions of dollars and corporations are people, it seems like both candidates have their hands in the same pockets.

I'm voting for Obama, but I'm doing it one-handed because I'll be holding my nose.  And I'll be SOOOOOOOOO glad when this is over and I can get back to “Honey Boo Boo.”


  1. Tim, I too can't wait for Wednesday week. I'm surprised that the entire population isn't in hospital suffering from intellectual whiplash as it tries to follow the candidates' policy positions. You're so right - nothing of importance was discussed, and irrelevant issues were debated to death. It is so sad to see how low the discourse has sunk. Can anyone suggest a good antidote for nausea?

  2. My political party, the Ixnaycrats, would have a four-point platform: Vote out all incumbents; vote against all professional politicians, impose term limits on every office in the land; and vote for fiscal responsibility.

    Presto, that queasy feeling is GONE!

  3. Warren Buffet has pretty much a similar proposition. Up the Ixnaycrats!

  4. Cure for nausea: turn off the television, turn off the radio, throw away the newspapers and magazines, and read a good book.

  5. And how about after the election when the cable news network on the losing side (be it Fox or MSNBC) starts discussing who will run against the President four years from now?

  6. It is all pretty scary. Nature has it's own comment to add to the dysfunction.

  7. They've already started talking about 2016. This is truly the most dismaying election I can remember, but it matters a great deal. I hope all of those in Sandy's path are safe. Maybe that is Nature's commentary as well.

  8. I think we should leave the decision up to Frankenstorm. Put both candidates in a sailboat off the Chesapeake Bay at 12:01AM this Tuesday morning with a tiger named Sandy and whoever steps off next Tuesday is the winner. I guess that means even the tiger is eligible...though it may be the only one in the boat incapable of changing its stripes.

  9. Stan, Buffet is a latecomer; I started talking about this five years ago. Of course, I didn't DO anything about it.

    Annamaria, there's a certain horrid fascination. When I was down on the beach here in Thailand, there was no CNN in the hotel, but now that I'm back in Bangkok I'm waking up to Candy Crowley interviewing anyone with a pulse and a talking point and getting the same sub-third-grade-level answers from all of them: five meaningless adjectives and a talking point.

    You know, they say people get the government they deserve. I hate to think what that means about America.

    Michael, I AM proud to say that I won't watch either Faux or MSNfornation. (Hooo, I just made that up.) Goebbels could have run either of them. CNN is the only game in town, and even it's got big problems, even beyond the fac that I'm apparently the only one watching.

    Anonymous, wouldn't it be awful if the storm shut down power on voting day? (Of course, in Florida it would only shut down Democratic districts and in Chicago one Republican ones. I think we should just empty Washington and let the crows and the feral cats have all that neoclassical and Federal architecture.

    Lil, they'll be in high gear for 2016 by 9 AM on the morning after the election.

    Jeff, that's the best idea yet. And smear them both with fish, so if the boat capsizes and Sandy swims off, they'll have sharks to contend with.