Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Popular Politics

Why do we have to like our public figures? Why do we have to know so much about them? Do we really need to relate to these people? Why does it matter in the least? Why aren’t even the dead exempt?

Why do I have to hear speculation about whether Abraham Lincoln were gay or not? He fought that Civil War. That’s all I care about. Hemingway may have been a cross-dresser? Oh, really? That still doesn’t tell me why I had to read A Farewell to Arms in high school. And if you told me Thomas Hardy was actually a black nationalist transsexual Satanist, I’d still be pissed about having to read The Mayor of Casterbridge.

But still, we have to know. And we have to approve. Of people’s past and present behavior. LeBron James curses out his mama. Christian Bale pimp-slaps his. Paris shaves, Lindsay shaves more, and Britney cuts it all off.

The paparazzi colonoscopy is constantly searching. Even politicians get the anal probe. Mark Foley wanted to give one to many of his young pages, Larry Craig was looking for one—or just his shoe laces—in an airport bathroom. John Edwards had to confess to probing a former employee. John McCain got in trouble for just looking like he wanted to probe a lobbyist.

All because we need to like not only our celebrities but our politicians as well? Not their policies, but their personae? “Sure, he started a pre-emptive war and lied about it, but he seems like a good guy.” Really? Is that why my brother pulled a tour in Iraq? Because you felt that you, working-class commoner, felt you could have a beer with W., whose family has been rich for a century and a half? Was he inviting you to the Skull and Bones Country Club or was he meeting you at the Bumblefuck Bar and Grille? Or was it that you looked into your TV screen, looked into his eyes, and just knew that he was pretty cool? Now, I realize that that’s a sound way to run foreign policy—and it’s working wonders for us in Russia and Pakistan—but it seems like a completely ridiculous way to vote for a politician.

And what’s even more ridiculous is that now we have to like a candidate’s spouse as well. I mean, why are Cindy McCain and Michelle Obama in the news at all? Cindy has a half-sister she won’t claim; Michelle’s an “angry black woman”; Cindy broke up John’s first marriage; Michelle had some shady dealings with a hospital board; they both love their “black” daughters.

Enough already. It’s petty and annoying. And I’m pissed that I fell for it last night. I mean, Michelle Obama’s a pretty impressive woman. She struck me as a strong, intelligent, talented, and incredibly dynamic woman in her own right. Her speech—her story—was utterly compelling. She seems to me to be a woman who can definitely hold her own and would definitely do us proud as the First Lady.

Michelle Obama is most definitely a strong woman, and weak men generally don’t fall for strong women. Russian mail order brides, trophy wives—or in Donald Trump’s case—both—but hardly ever a multiply Ivy League-trained attorney. It made me a bit more impressed with Barack himself.

But, in all honesty, Michelle Obama’s speech, no matter how eloquent, is not going to have me voting for her husband. I already have my reasons to do that. She’s had no effect on that whatsoever. And if he keeps up with that FISA crap, he could still lose my vote. And if Cindy McCain ends up being Mother Teresa, the Virgin Mary, Lucille Ball, Marilyn Monroe, and Vanessa del Rio combined, I still won’t be voting for McCain. Even if the three of us got drunk at a Redskins game and pissed on Daniel Snyder, I couldn’t do it. No matter how much I loved those two fools, no matter how many candlelit evenings we spent together, gazing lovingly into each other’s eyes, how could that determine my vote? There are wars to be ended, jobs to be found, bridges to fix, healths to be cared for. What does a winning smile and dewy eyes have to do with anything? I can get those and much better music with Prince … but that doesn’t mean I want him in the Oval Office.

Though it would be cool to paint the White House purple.


RonStrelecki said...

What irritates me is the meta-meta speculation. You can't stand in line at the grocery store without overhearing somebody yapping... not about their opinions, no. Everyone has to talk about how Obama's VP choice is going to play with the Inuit Trucker mail-in vote.

"That's really going to hurt Obama's chances with stay-at-home Moms who like to grow their own root vegetables."

Shut up! Here's what you need to decide: How you are going to vote. The middle class Portugese Bankers who like to go sport-fishing in March can make up their own minds.

RonStrelecki said...

I also can't abide all these accusations that someone is "playing politics". They're Politicians.

And then there's this accusation that it is somehow nefarious that Obama is "appealing to swing voters" as if it were somehow disingenuous. What is he supposed to do? Go out and say, "I don't want you asshats to vote for me... why? Because you stink... I mean, you people smell bad. I'm Barack Obama and I approved this message."

And now all these commentators are saying that by picking Joe Biden he is trying to make up for his weaknesses... Well, who should he pick? Someone that emphasizes his (apparent) weaknesses? Or should he just pick a name out of a hat? Or should he pick Tom Arnold? Carrot Top? Martha Stewart? Who could he pick that you would approve of, oh Mr. Commentator?