Now that we’ve celebrated our Savior’s birth by buying each other petroleum-based tchotckes, stuffing our gullets with saturated fats and getting into explosive arguments with that obnoxious uncle who won’t shut up about immigration and/or homosexuality, it’s time to turn our attention to other important matters of salvation, such as the Cards’ bowl chances … um … the Cards’ top-10 hoops team … um, er … the race for president!
This week marks the 97th week since the presidential “camp-pain” officially began with the Ceremonial Shooting In The Face Of A Hunting Buddy by Vice President Dick Cheney. After 947 debates, the race shifts into high gear next week with actual voting in the Iowa “caucuses,” which is a Chippewa word meaning “Caucasian farmers decide.” The following week, white engineers in New Hampshire will decide if the white Iowa farmers got it right. After that, it’s pretty much over until November, when Fox News will determine the winner in the general election.
But it’s still fun to follow the race here in Kentucky and imagine what voting would be like if we lived in a democracy. It would mostly be a real drag, what with all the politicians pandering to our grandparents’ values, the disingenuous town meetings about “what’s important to Kentucky,” and all those pesky, whirlwind visits from Oprah. Plus, we’d have to keep up with the important issues, like which candidate promises to use stem cells to solve the housing crisis and who is better equipped to protect us from jihadists and the monogamously gay.
Alas, even the Iowans and New Hampshirdistanians don’t have much to decide because the pollsters and television pundits have already made most of their decisions for them. A favorite TV-news technique is to suggest that any candidate with actual ideas is crazy, thereby ensuring that the candidates speak only in monosyllabic clauses and talk to us as if we were home-schooled — and by “us” I mean the good white farmers and IT professionals in Iowa and New Hampshire. Also unacceptable are the ugly candidates, who frankly should have known better than to enter the race in the first place. This is America, hello. Have you met our voters?
That pretty much rules out Democrats Gravel, Kucinich, Dodd and Biden, and Republicans Hunter, Paul and Thompson (Tancredo finally took the hint). Which leaves only pretty and/or non-creative candidates, plus some to cast aside ASAP, cough, Bill Richardson, cough. Mike Huckabee gets a special dispensation from the press because his ideas, while completely insane, are virtually identical to President Bush’s and therefore warmly nostalgic and appealing to comedy writers, bloggers and cable bloviators. John McCain also gets a pass because he was tortured in Vietnam, back before torture was cool.
On the Republican side, it’s easy for all but the morbidly religious to pick a candidate by process of elimination. Rudy Giuliani is trying to be the nation’s Austin Powers: part spy, part walking anachronism, part horndog. His 9/11 chest-thumping rings false even for the most ardent anti-peace voters, plus he’s a Yankees fan. Mitt Romney is a big-money corporate tool who would totally get his ass kicked in a debate with himself. McCain sounds mildly sane until he starts pandering to the religious right, whereupon he sounds as genuine as Hillary Clinton speaking at a black church. Likewise, anti-war candidate Ron Paul sounds good until he starts talking about anything besides the war. So, let’s see, that rules out … everybody.
Surprisingly, the four Democratic frontrunners don’t totally suck. It’s unprecedented to have so many excellent presidential candidates to choose from.* Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Bill Richardson all seem like good candidates to move the country gradually away from the nightmare of the past eight years. None are truly progressive, but all realize it won’t be easy lugging the right back to reality.
And it would be an honor to vote for the first woman, the first black, the first Latino or the first Bobby Sherman-look-alike president. Whatever your persuasion, there’s a candidate for you. So you’ll just have to study the issues, reflect deeply on the candidates, and trust that Iowa and New Hampshire will do what’s best for Kentucky.
*Offer valid in Iowa and
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