A Sideways Glare at Contemporary Society
Every four years, whether anybody likes it or not Americans stop whatever they’re doing and turn on each other in a ten-month, bare-knuckle brawl called “Who Wants to be the President.” It’s sort of an itty bitty Civil War that keeps the most powerful nation on earth from having the real thing. In the past, nobody outside the fifty states cared very much about it until October, when most of the fighting was over and it was down to the final four. However, somewhere around the time CBS cancelled The Sonny and Cher Show, the rest of the world started taking an interest in how Americans went about electing their head of state. In those days, Jimmy Carter was president, and he was such a dolt people all over the world wondered how he’d got there. This year, 2012, is once again a presidential election year, and as of yesterday, the war’s on.
In general, potential presidential candidates could give drama lessons to Gossip Girl. They’re always talking about how this particular election is the most important one in history and how the future of our species depends on how the people in Michigan’s fifth congressional district vote. With a few notable exceptions, like 1860 and 1940, this is crap. For example, at the time, 1976 was called a pivotal year in American politics. However, we now know that the difference between “Jimmy” and “Jerry” was minimal. Usually, somewhere between the election and the inauguration, most presidents get sorted out. Even though there have been a number of bad ones, none of them has actually ruined the country. The problem is since every candidate since Washington’s Farewell Address has cried wolf, nobody believes it anymore when the sheep are actually being eaten.
We live in such a time. If history is any judge (and it will be) 2012 will be a serious date in the continuum of our planet, and the next president is going to have to lead, follow or get the hell out of the way.
To be brutally honest, 2008 was a throwaway election. America needed a vacation after eight years of George Bush. On the one hand, you had a young, handsome, intelligent candidate who could talk circles around Daniel Webster and Clarence Darrow combined. On the other, you had a guy who had actually shot at godless Commies, way back in the Cold War. Pair the old guy with a Kardashian wannabe, and you had a slamdunk for Prince Charming from Chicago. With the media leading the voting public in the chorus from “I Need a Hero,” the only bona fides Barack Obama ever had to provide were that he wasn’t George Bush. Nobody bothered to ask him who he was or what experience he was bringing to the table. Four years later, America and the world have discovered that on-the-job training doesn’t really work when the job is President of the United States.
Barack Obama is not a bad guy. He’s not out to ruin the world or the country or even the American middle class. He just doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s demonstrated that beyond redemption right from day one when he had to ask the Secret Service where the bathroom was. It’s not that he’s stupid; he just doesn’t have any experience. When he walked into the White House four years ago his resume consisted of Community Organizer (whatever that is) Illinois and U.S. Senator. That’s it! And he spent over half his time as a U.S. Senator outside the Senate, campaigning to be President. That’s like that kid Eddie down at the convenience store (no offence, Eddie) getting promoted to CEO of the 7/11 Corporation. For the last four years, the country has been without adult supervision — and it shows. But here’s the kicker: Obama now believes he’s figured it out, and he wants to keep his job. That’s the problem! The Democrats can’t dump him now. If they did, they might just as well hang a vacancy sign on 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and get it over with.
And all this brings us back to the first punches thrown yesterday in New Hampshire. (The Iowa Caucus was just a bunch of crybabies saying “Me first!”) As of this moment, it’s the responsibility of the Republican Party to make sure Barack Obama leaves a forwarding address. Why? Because this is the most important election since Ronald Reagan put a stop to Jimmy Carter in 1980.
Friday; Why the Republicans have to reclaim the White House.