Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Blather and Change

My favorite part of the Presidential campaigns has become the advisor-to-the-candidate-blather. If you watch MSNBC they have more blatherers than the other stations so if you want to see them, this is your best bet. Today they continued to spew useless information about what was going to happen in Iowa and New Hampshire. They know nothing about what’s going to happen. No one knows what’s going to happen because that’s the nature of politics. For example, I think it is possible that Hillary will come in 3rd in Iowa. Anything is possible and as a blobber I can say anything better than the blatherers or at least twice as fast. If Obama continues to gain momentum and Edwards moves people with the family decision (the one where they got very bad news but they decided to go on with their lives), victory for Hillary may not be a sure thing. OK, but the blather I enjoyed most today was when a Democratic advisor said to a Republican advisor, “I don’t understand why with all the fighting between your candidates, you don’t just elect McCain.” What in the world does that mean? In case she hadn’t noticed, there have been shots fired between Democrats as well, so who do we go back to, Wes Clark?

When I was just a wee thing starting out in Presidential politics, my friend and mentor Paul Tully told me two things I will not forget. Actually he told me lots of things that were unforgettable but not fit for sharing. Anyway, the things were, ‘you never know how someone is going to vote’— it is never a sure thing because people are never predictable. You can make some good guesses, you can get people you know are your voters (or told you they were) to the polls, but since you are not in the voting booth, you will not know the outcome of an election until it’s over. And given what we’ve been through in the last two elections you may not even know then. The other thing he told me was in story form. It was about a Congressman who, having won in his district consistently by 80% of the vote, after 20 years he only won by 50% of the vote. When a newsperson called his district office to ask what happened, the response from some person who answered the phone, tentatively, was that the Congressman had died six months before. You can never predict what the voting public will do. I rest my case.

But not my thoughts... It is also possible that Huckabee will knock Mitt out of the ballpark. I never use baseball analogies but with a name like Mitt it was hard to resist.
If Mitt doesn’t make it, it helps Giuliani, so if I were Rudy and I was in a caucus state, I would do my best to make Huckabee look plausible. Of course, this could be a mistake as well, because eventually Huckabee and Jesus (who apparently is working on his campaign) may make anyone who is not a Baptist or an Evangelical Christian a little nervous. I mean look at the choices the Republicans have – it almost makes me feel sorry for them... only almost. Of course, there are those who would say the same thing about the Dems, I am just not among them—but that’s why MSNBC can fill hours with people who don’t know much of anything. And talk about nothing with great assurance that whatever they say is interesting and maybe even true. Isn’t it poetic, and much cheaper than paying for a mini-series?

Joe Trippi was on this morning. You remember Joe from the last Presidential election. He’s the guy that appeared to move Howard Dean all the way to the top – until the primaries, when John Kerry was actually at the top. Joe is working for Edwards and when asked why he was working for Edwards this time (since he had said so many horrible things about him last time), Trippi (had there been a camera he would have looked directly into it) actually said that he always thought Edwards was a winner and it certainly was the case this time. I’m not sure what that meant. The consultants never answer questions directly – it’s not what they learned in their training sessions, but to answer in a way where you conveniently forget what you did and said -- and it’s all recorded somewhere, is almost unbelievable. You see I said almost. What is amazing is that Presidential candidates and staff can just lie about whatever and then move on. I have often wondered why political people (especially in the White House) don’t just say, “I am going to be truly honest about this: I will be lying about everything I say. So feel free to go on with your lives thinking things are working and will get better (because that’s what I lied about), but don’t really expect anything to change.”

Change is a flexible word isn’t it? It can mean coins that you carry in your pocket, money you get back after a purchase, or a transformation, revolution, or alteration. When Presidential candidates use it they want you to think that all change is good. (They never carry wallets or money so you know they are not talking about coinage). But change is not always good. For example, one day you might be making a nice living doing whatever and the next day you lose your house, lose your job and wind up as a homeless person. I met a 70 year old woman the other day who was standing on a street corner, asking for money because she was hungry. Most people passed her by as if she were one of the thousands of invisible, some gave her some change and commented that she was probably going to use it to get drunk and I watched and listened and finally I gave her a dollar. She thanked me and told me that it wasn’t always like this but things had ‘changed’ when her husband got sick and lost his job and the bills piled up and then he died leaving her with all the debt. She had no other family, lost her house and went on welfare but it wasn’t enough. So she started to beg. Change was not good for her.

The candidates are all offering solutions to important issues like poverty, high costs of health care, and better education. Notice I didn’t mention immigration or gay marriage – God seems to be directing those efforts. But we don’t know where the truth ends and the lie begins or vice-versa. There is a website that does look at what candidates are saying and they research the fact from fiction, but how many people are going to take the time to look up the truth? Not many I’m afraid.

Anyway, I no longer watch cable television news expecting to learn anything. I watch it for the entertainment value. I am sure that during Christmas people in Iowa won’t be paying much attention to the candidates, but we don’t have to worry because there will always be blathering about the election – that won’t change. But I guess we can always have one change that is good, and that is to just take it upon ourselves to change –the station.
We’re just sayin...Iris


Anonymous said...

It's kinda fun watching some of those Kooky Kampaigners at election time. It's sorta like the academy awards all over again. Everyone has their own little films,and usually the ones with the biggest budget wins. Even the best actors get involved.

Our system (Canadian) is too transparent to really have that much fun with it. Basically we have no celebrity endorsements - cause we have no celebrities - and even if we did we'd wonder, "what the hell would an actor know about politics, especially since they are a lousy actor too, now a good actor maybe... a hockey player thats different! Those guys are really well educated. They travel around the world you know, to tournaments and stuff." (Actually over-heard at a coffee shop.)

And while we take our politics seriously, we don't take seriously our politicians - maybe only three of them in the last 60 years have inspired the voters of any note.

its true, our national culture is influenced greatly by yours,but we seem to have never adopted the same campaign fever'ed process that the Americans have. Perhaps because we don't consider it be a global event. The notion that we are voting for the "leader of the free world", would never cross our minds. Heck, we're pleasantly surprised if they just get the simplest things done at home.

But I think it's this celebrity thing that separates us the most. I dont understand it, but I'm pretty sure that the pop-entertainment industry ought to be one of the LEAST influencial components of an election. Yes good plays and literature,good films or a song, even a photograph should/could, inform/challenge, the social conscience of a nation to react politically, but we're talking art here. This whole celebrity- back stroking -show stopping -stump standing -Oprah Oogling - politcal posturing seems like a huge cultural mistake. I dont know Oprah (or streisand,or Ben Affleck et al. :they've never phoned), I dont know what she is like behind closed doors,she could have such a strong connection to the everyday plight of Americans that she is a political messiah, but something tells me that a T.V host she is, and Václav Havel she is not.

I wonder what would happen if Obama, after winning the Presidency, traveled around the country insisting that Oprah get an Emmy for best daytime talkshow, emphasising over and over her credentials to be on t.v., and how hard it is to be a host on T.V, and that there was no other talk show host worthy to be honored with the prize, especially considering her credentials!

He finishing the endorsement as he stood besdie her with ,"Good luck "O". You'll have to excuse me now folks, I have to get back to the Oval Office, there is this crazy Middle East thing I gotta take care of."

Who would take him seriously as a political leader after that? I mean this man has nukes at his command!

Actually, now that I think about it, maybe sadly, probably quite a few would take him seriously...I suppose Millions of Oprah lovers... Never mind...i think I understand the Celeb thing now...ya, never mind.

Sorry Iris ,sometimes ya get me going...

David get to New York quick, this Davis Birdnet guy sounds shady.

Iris and Clay said...

Whew Michael, I like your writing better than mine. I seem to have inspired something in you that really works-- do you think I could get paid for being a muse? It would be so much easier than trying to be a writer. And speaking of celebs, what about Alex Trebeck and the guy who beat David when they were on Jeopardy-- they were in cohoots, and are both Canadien Celebs. I think you're right about hockey celebs, but I would get one with a big stick who could just check the opposing candidates out of the election. Iris

Anonymous said...

Payment? I dont know Iris, you're stuffs priceless. And lets be honest, Im more Costello to your Abbott. And a bad costello at that. Unless Seth is on talking about sports, then I look pretty smart...hee...hee...Go Pats!!

Most papers up here favor Hillary. We've already had our lady Prime minister, have a black woman as our current govenor general,and of course our close ties with the Brits and Thatcher past, and that queen chick, so it seems entirely possible at this end - having a woman in leadership seems pretty normal. Most Canadians love Bill too (we're a sexual people,being part French and all).

You met Alex Trebeck? The gods are with you two! I guess that should have been in the form of question...

sorry for the birdnet thing, an african fellow once told me that last names are sacred.I believe him.

Looking forward to your book.


Anonymous said...

And I like MY writing better than both of yours!

Iris&David said...

Writing? Writing? Did someone say Writing? I thought I was the writer. Oops.. never mind...


Iris&David said...

Sacred aside, in high school and junior high I was known as, variously:
Burned'Egg (most popular)
Burrrneggg (by Franck the French kid)
but never "the Kid"