Editor's Note: It’s only August, and I’m already sick of this election. We’ll be getting an overdose of conventions, debates, libel and slander soon enough. So, for now, how about a respite from all this campaign sleaze. Go see the new Woody Allen movie (Scarlett Johansson, for Christ sakes!) ... there’s Shakespeare in the park ... the World Poker Tour ... find a nice restaurant where you can sit outdoors, eat a soft-shell crab sandwich and drink a Tecate right out of the can. Just stay away from anything that has to do with the upcoming election ... at least until after Halloween.
Our long national nightmare is over. Another disheartening and interminable primary campaign has ended, and our two candidates have emerged from the muck and slime.
To ensure that the aftertaste at this point in the political cycle is just a bit more sour than usual, we can chew on the John Edwards postscript to this sordid season. The smarmy ex-senator not only cheated on his wife while she was being treated for inoperable cancer, he sought his party’s nomination, knowing full well that his affair was an open secret.
Such is Edwards’ egotism and narcissism that even the knowledge that the National Enquirer already had the story nailed down didn’t inhibit his presidential bid. If Edwards had won the Democratic primary, then John McCain would be picking out rocking chairs for the Oval Office from the Ikea catalog even as you read this.
Even more sadly, Edwards has lent credibility to the tabloid Enquirer — which normally breaks stories about Katie Holmes’ fear and loathing of Scientology, Lindsay Lohan’s incipient lesbianism and Dennis Kucinich’s boyhood on the moons of Jupiter — for having scooped the mainstream press. (I guess even a broken clock is right twice a day.) Edwards should have provided a fitting finale to this tawdry mess by going on The Maury Povich Show for that paternity test he promised to take.
Let’s hope we’ve seen the last of the hypocritical Mr. Edwards and his Trump-sized sense of self-esteem. Anyone who thinks he’s the best-qualified person in the U.S. to have his finger on a button that could end all life on Earth probably needs an ego with the circumference of Rush Limbaugh’s belt, but politicians could at least do a better job of feigning contrition when they’re caught diddling the help.
Every four years, we lesser citizens get to vote in “the most-important election in our history.” This year, Barack Obama, a multiracial newcomer who frightens some voters with his youth, his exotic name and the promise of change, is being opposed by the “old guard,” who promises a third Bush term. If you’re happy with how things are going, and feel you’re better off now than you were eight years ago, then pull the lever for the guy from Arizona, who portends more of the same, including endless wars like those predicted by George Orwell in “1984.”
After the distasteful primary campaigns, it was exhausting (and depressing) to type as partisan a paragraph as the one above. Elections are a smelly business, especially during the sweatiness of another globally warming summer. So, rather than being forced to think about McCain and Obama, you might want to take a brief “staycation” from politics and find another way to spend what remains of your last summer of this golden Bush era.
At a time when a tank of gas requires a home-equity loan — and your home’s equity probably isn’t worth quite what you’d imagined — you might want to postpone that cross-country road trip you were planning. Instead, put $20 worth of gas into that big SUV you bought before the Supreme Court handed our government over to an oilman, his vice oilman and their pals at Exxon. This might get you 40 or 50 miles out of town, where you can park your four-ton Hummer in a scenic locale and use it as a vacation home.
Or, if your primary residence hasn’t been foreclosed on yet, you might want to stay there and enjoy the Olympics. The incredible opening ceremonies in Beijing were reportedly the most extravagant and expensive in Olympic history, and it’s nice to know they were probably financed, in part, with interest from the loans the Chinese have shipped over to keep our government afloat … I love seeing my tax dollars at work. Plus it’s nice to get a look at the people holding the ballooning mortgage on our country.
Or, if you’re ambitious, and the Bush administration hasn’t drained away your last vestiges of patriotism, then you might try your hand at some drilling in your own back yard. Soon, we’ll be looking for oil everywhere from the Grand Canyon to Central Park, so this is no time for a NIMBY attitude about pumping black gold from your patio. Just because our politicians haven’t lifted a finger to free the country from its dependence on Arabian oil doesn’t mean you can’t become personally energy-independent this year.
Or, if our rocky New England soil doesn’t seem conducive to wildcatting, you could always raise maize. With the price of produce these days, cornhusking is sure to be profitable. And you can refine your own ethanol — call it a victory garden in the war on terror.
As you bring in your crop, a much-longer national nightmare, the eight-year reign of George II, will be lamely limping toward its conclusion. At least this year, no matter who wins the election, it will surely be an upgrade.
At the end of October, you can don that Dick Cheney mask one last time to scare the little neighborhood children. But wait until Halloween’s over before jumping back into the cesspool of our electoral process. The longer you delay, the cleaner you’ll feel.
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