American elections are not noted for depth of content. Despite constant disparagement, sound-bites often are the only way to know what all the racket is about.
The candidates are typically such pasteboard-cutout figures, but what would you expect from people spending large parts of their lives in Washington? It is stifling preparation for anything useful, and, if the time was spent in Congress, the only solid skill you likely possess is sniffing out campaign funds.
But even extravaganzas grow tiresome. How many times can an audience watch candidates with drippy television-smiles and capped teeth stand on a podium, hands clasped over their heads like boxing champs, while balloons and confetti rain down? If they can't come up with a new closing act for the conventions, some enterprising person should develop a computer program so that the parties only have to insert an image and voice-sample for this year's candidate. Balloon colors would be adjustable as would theme music. Confetti and streamers could be added in any desired proportions.
The phoniness starts well before the conventions and actual campaigns. Honestly, have you ever seen a picture of a would-be presidential candidate in the primaries who isn't either stabbing the air with his forefinger, a la Kennedy 1960, or reaching out with both arms like one of those hog-sized television evangelists groping the air symbolically for his flock's wallets? The images are so repetitive, a good computer program could save everyone time and effort.
One thing is different this year. I don't recall such a wealth of filth being released at so early a date in the run-up to a campaign. We're in for a hilarious season. By November, even the most jaded viewer should have had some good laughs.
Ratings for the national debates, always guaranteed yawns unless one of the gents forgets his lines, should soar as viewers anticipate a darkly-serious Bush reaching into his jacket to pull out a pair of soiled panties in a sealed evidence envelope. Janet Jackson's breast-stunt was probably planned by a Republican ad agency to test audience reaction for the campaign. If a woman who looks much like her brother, minus the "skin condition," wearing a costume from a cheap 1950s sci-fi film about an invasion of giant cock-roaches, can get Americans excited, rating prospects for the fall are excellent.
Bush operatives already are reported to be conducting a worldwide search for any former intern who may have had an affair with John Kerry. The search will not overlook such past contacts as plump-bottomed baton-twirlers at county fairs and employees of the Boston branch of Hooters. The records of dry-cleaning establishments across the United States are being scrutinized by an ever-vigilant FBI for cleaning tickets identifying biologically-stained dresses or undergarments with torn straps.
Dick Cheney ordered the top-secret NSA to enter a salacious-word search into the supercomputers of its Echelon system that daily records and sorts through the world's telecommunications for clues to miscreants. By the way, if Dick Cheney were running, he'd only have to show a wallet-snap of his wife's embalmed-prune smile to be forgiven any straying from the marital bed, but Kerry is married to America's Grand Duchess of Pickles and Ketchup, and her five hundred million or so make up for an awful lot of shortcomings in other departments.
I must confess to not having mastered all the details. I wonder whether Intern-gate is supposed to have happened after Kerry's marriage-alliance with America's canned-spaghetti fortune? Maybe, the Grand Duchess is a tolerant wife. I feel no compulsion to research these points since I'm sure I'll be filled in during the campaign.
Letters already produced suggest Republican politicians long ago closely vetted Bush's National Guard files and wiped them clean. Former Guardsmen, though, have come forward suggesting that Bush never showed up for duty in Alabama after leaving Texas. Bush drifting off into space should surprise anyone?
Bush still thought it worth countering with some murky pay records. Hell, Junior's entire career before going into crooked Texas politics was built on people trying to influence his dad by giving the boy the appearance of an honest living. Why would anyone expect his pay to have been stopped?
We all know what a vital role the National Guard plays, but it was a lot more vital during a protracted and vicious war. It was the only way to avoid Vietnam while getting yourself glossy, full-color pictures in uniform with a huge flag in the background - it was a future politician's dream duty. Bush joined by jumping the queue in front of scores of other influential people's sons. And, hell, he even got to play with a real jet plane once in a while, although for some reason, not explained in the record, his flying was cut short well before his service ended. Smart alecks have unkindly suggested that he was either too smashed or high to fly, but I'm sure this matter will be cleared up to everyone's satisfaction by the campaign.
The critical nature of Bush's service to the nation is brought home by a report concerning his using a National Guard plane to transport what were identified only as "tropical plants" to Texas. Apparently, either there was a shortage of pineapples at the base lounge or Bush invented a new role for the military in the war on drugs.
I'm just hoping a home-movie clip survives somewhere of Bush's legendary naked table-dancing in a bar. This would provide a hilarious finale to the campaign. CNN could show it again and again, frame by frame, with commentaries by a staff of legal experts. Who knows, if we're really lucky there's a Polaroid out there somewhere of Junior with white powder stuck to his nose.
We may need porno-entrepreneur Larry Flynt to put up a million-buck reward to get the goods. If Flynt is a bit short of cash after cutting down some prominent Republican hypocrites during the Clinton impeachment-farce, maybe George Soros, anxious to find a way to retire Bush before he blows up the planet, could send him the dough in a plain brown envelope.
I must end on a somber note. There are almost no genuine issues for Kerry and Bush to debate, unless you include Bush's low effective intelligence, which you may or may not think important since Cheney pretty much keeps Bush to ceremonial duties, a bit like the Queen of England. Kerry drones about jobs, seemingly unaware that a President has little influence on employment, although whenever a Democrat starts talking about jobs, you can bet protectionist trade measures aren't far behind.
As far as Bush's pointless brutality in Iraq, Kerry has long supported intervention there. He supported a resolution to that effect in 2002. He never said a word when the limbs started being blasted off. But what would you expect from the rarified air of the Consort to the Grand Duchess of Pickles and Ketchup?
John Chuckman lives in Canada and is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He writes frequently for Yellow Times.org and other publications.
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