Monday, October 23, 2006

Elaine, that reminds me of a story...

Before I start, let me tell you a story. Yesterday afternoon a car flipped over outside my apartment, whereby when I say flip over I mean it FLIPPED OVER. I'm using "flipped over" in the "turned upside down" sense. And let me tell you something. When a car flips over, it isn't like it is in the movies. There's no spinning wheels, no scattered debris, no rogue hubcab, and certainly no thin trail of gasoline about to catch fire. In fact, I barely noticed it at all. I was in my apartment reading when I heard the sounds of wheels screeching outside. Not a movie screech. Not a screeeeeeeeeeeech. It was like a screech lite. Accompanied by a slight bumpity-bump sound. I thought to myself,"I say, that sounded like a car accident!" and I rushed to the window to see a car FLIPPED OVER outside my apartment. Whereby when I saw "flipped over" I mean it landed on its roof, smashed against the divider. I don't even know how it GOT flipped over, but there it was. Outside my apartment. Flipped...OVER.

And let me tell you something else. Bystander response isn't like in the movies, either. People don't rush over, no muscled ex-Marine pulls the soccer mom with marital problems out through the car window. Instead they all sort of leisurely parked on the side and trotted over to make sure the driver was all right. I was a little disappointed, actually. If my car ever flips over, I want people to swing into action. Luckily, from where I was standing it looked like the driver was unhurt.

Things haven't changed since last Thursday. Everbody is STILL talking about Barack Obama. Bob Herbert. Frank Rich. Maureen Dowd. And me. Do you think one day could go by this week where the Times DOESN'T have an od-ed piece about Obama? Probably not. They just can't help themselves. Barack's the talk of the town, the belle of the ball. Will he run for President? WILL HE? I just don't know! So exciting!

I also got an Obama-tastic morning yesterday on Meet the Press. I'll admit, despite my better judgment, my opinion on Barack's presidential likelihood changes whenever I see him speak. He's just too sincere a policitian not to want to vote for him. "He'll go into those gymnasiums in Iowa and New Hampshire and blow them all away. Shake every hand in the joint, kiss every baby, hug every widow on Social Security, and sound smarter and more honest than any Republican they've ever seen...because he is." It certainly seems like he's positioning himself to make a bid. All this press coverage. Spreads in Vogue and the like. A book about leadership and public service? Come on. If that's not an announcement of your intentions to run for President, I'm not sure what is.

I don't agree with Maureen Dowd, though, that it's a bad thing he's making the rounds in the Vogue/Vanity Fair circuit and "lounging around in fashion magazines" instead of doing "some honest work, like running for president." Mostly that's because I like to disagree with Maureen Dowd, but also because I don't think it's the worst political strategy in the world. True, there's a part of me that believes, yes, politicians should run substantive campaigns. They shouldn't "run for the President the same way you want a cold beer." This isn't your high school elections, after all, it's not a popularity contest. Except, of course, it is. Presidential campaigns aren't about issues. It's about the adult quest for a father figure (probably one of the reasons women haven't been quite so successful in breaking through the political ceiling). Americans don't have the time, to say nothing of the inclination, to examine and consider issues. They just want to find a guy they like, a guy they can trust in, and assume he's making good choices.

This is why I think a Hilary Clinton presidential campaign would be doomed to failure. I think she'd make a great President but a lousy candidate. People just don't like her. Meanwhile, look at the Captain Caveman of a President we have now. Not a particularly good President at all, but he was a great candidate. People liked him. They responded to him. He's their buddy, not some elitist with a vocabulary.

There's a joke from SNL that goes, "The movie Brokeback Mountain opened this week. The movie is making history as the first western ever where the good guys get it in the end." But the one that's pertinent to this topic is the one that goes, "A new poll shows 66% of Americans think President Bush is doing a poor job of handling the war in Iraq...and the remaining 34% think Adam and Eve rode dinosaurs to church." The Christian-bashing notwithstanding, people would have to be blinded by something - call it trust, call it wacko obsession with the promotion of a conservative-religious agenda, call it what you want - to approve of the job Bush is doing. At the least, they'd have to have put any commitment to substance on the backburner. And that's not necessarily the worst thing in the world. They've found a guy they like, and they're sticking with him. It's the same reason why I don't mind so much that Bill Clinton lied in his grand jury testimony.


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