Archive for May, 2008

The kind of government we deserve.
May 9, 2008

A person very dear to me once allowed as how she could never vote for Richard Nixon. “I don’t like the curl of his lip”, she explained. I don’t know if that was the only reason, but I got the sense it was a deal breaker.
John Edwards might have been the greatest President of our time, or the worst, I don’t know, he never got the chance. He’ll be remembered as the guy who got super-expensive haircuts. In 1972, Ed Muskie cried. Well, it isn’t clear if he really cried. It may have been the snow melting on his face, but no matter, the Senator from Maine was finished. He could have been the next Abraham Lincoln, who knows, because he maybe, possibly, perhaps, might have cried, and that’s all that mattered.
Did John McCain suffer an inappropriate flirtation? In his 300th news quote of the day, did he accidentally say “Iran” when he meant “Iraq?” Well, sheez!, show him to the door! Was Chelsea Clinton churlish when asked about her Dad? Ummm! then her Mom has got no business running for President! What was it that Obama’s minister said? Has he been strong enough in repudiating the Reverend’s words? He must secretly hate America! It would be one thing if these topics had a flashbulb existence, burning white-hot for one gossip-cycle,  but instead they fester into dramas that, amazingly, take on a self-perpetuating energy of their own. While the fate of The Republic hangs in the balance, campaigns sound like a schoolyard full of 8-year-olds. Seasoned reporters who should know better, justify being a part of the frenzy, by pretending this is “a test of how the candidate handles the heat!” In fact, it’s a loss to all of us. We end up with no sense of who might make a good President, but a terrific idea who’d make a nice prom queen. 
Candidates, desperate to please, become vanilla clones, their responses only slightly varied shades of beige . They make it a point to go to church and sit up especially straight. They wear flags on their lapels, and propose “gas-tax holidays”.
Voters complain the candidates we elect so often end up disappointing us. Once in office, they prove to be incompitent, ineffective, self-serving, or, most often, just painfully unremarkable.  It’s been said we get the kind of govenment we deserve. Until we start paying more attention, we deserve nothing better.
Years ago, there was a Mayoral candidate in San Diego who figured he had the election locked up. Then the voters cast their ballots, and he lost. He responded by putting together a list of those who, he was convinced, had betrayed him. He titled it “One Thousand Liars”. Cooler heads convinced him not to publish it. Why he lost has never been made clear. Maybe it was the curl of his lip.