Campaign Silliness

The political situation in this country has devolved into a profound silliness that's hard for the average joe to understand. The primaries for the presidential quadrennial circus don't even begin coming on line until next year, but the candidates in both parties, most of them having already been running for months or even years, are making a serious governmental process into a huge joke. For instance, it turns out that unannounced candidates (at least officially), such as former senator and sometime actor Fred Thompson, can be high in the polls while long-running candidates are back in the pack, though no one seems to care much where they are since they're looking foolish or unbelievably opportunistic in making all their noise much too far in advance of the actual primaries.

Indeed, the primaries themselves are exercises in fluff and foolishness. When votes in such places as midget-sized New Hampshire or Nevada or a caucus in Iowa next January are held to be vital to the process, the importance of the whole business is denigrated. It should be obvious by now that if the primary-system is to be employed, all primaries should be held on the same day, preferably in June or July. The conventions, already made meaningless by the primaries, should be consigned to never-never-land, never to be seen again unless and until the silly primary-process is changed. They have devolved into exercises in which windbags are given the privilege of insulting everyone's intelligence by cliché-ridden orations full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

The name of the game now is the incessant quoting by virtually all the candidates of polls that show how well they're doing. The polls are engineered by slick con artists to indicate that the candidate employing the pollsters looks as good as possible. Their use is determined to a large extent by the amount of money the candidate has been able to scrounge from mostly interest groups, the devil take the hindmost in fund-raising. This is sort of like the most important element in establishing successful sports "programs" in the colleges and universities, namely, recruiting. The coaching is secondary to the vital element of grabbing the most talented athletes and letting them do their thing. The most successful coaches, except for rare exceptions, are the most talented recruiters.

The 24/7 Cable-TV "news" outlets thrive on the shenanigans connected to the sham of politics. They come up with new polls every day. Today, for instance (June 18), the big news on Fox News is that polling shows that Senator Clinton is leading the democrat pack, that Senator Obama is still second, and that unannounced candidate Al Gore, who says he has no intentions of running but, of course, is not closing the door, has shoved (or greatly helped shove) former senator Edwards off the edge…though Edwards is still maintaining a significant presence in Iowa, of all places.

The same newsman reported that the polling showed unannounced candidate Thompson (although, didn't he announce on somebody's late-night clambake the other night?) is roughly equal to John McCain and threatening presumptive frontrunner Giuliani in the current republican popularity contest, with wannabe Mitt Romney slipping into single-digit territory, a serious threat to his chances nearly seven months before voting takes place. Not to worry, though, since the polls will be different tomorrow and next week and so on. Romney will make a better showing, of course…or will he? Only the pollster knows.

Adding to the silliness have been the "debates" held thus far by the cable networks. These have furnished opportunities for the "anchor folks" at the networks to shine since they run the show. The entire process hasn't been watched in this corner, but the most impressive of the "anchors" was Chris Matthews, not because he was sharper than the others but because he figured a new angle – that of running back and forth across the stage and eyeballing the candidates pupil-to-pupil or contact lens-to-contact lens…whatever. He hogged his outing…and stole the show. One suspects, also, that the "debates" are actually designed to be exercises in the "gotcha game," catching the candidates by surprise and watching them stammer a bit and slowly twist in the wind if at all possible.

The notion of debate is silly, anyway. The "debates" form a collection of sound-bites or campaign-blurbs from the candidates, who are expected to – and expect to – discuss a subject as serious as war in 90 seconds or less. Imagine nine democrat guys and one woman or eight republican guys and no woman in a debate. Sound foolish? Of course! The debates – if there actually are debates – should be held next year sometime when the fields have been winnowed to a handful of wannabes. Actually, this corner is unimpressed with the so-called debates, anyway, and would much rather listen to a candidate lay out his/her whole plan without interruption or argument from another candidate, and certainly without an "anchor" putting on his own show, which is likely to turn into an advancement of his own agenda or that of his network, not unheard of in this day of the big hype.