If You Ask Me... 

Rambling down the campaign trail

If there are any lawyers reading this, do me a big favor. Would you please check in all your books ... ask your judge friends and old professors ... put your firm's interns and paralegals to finding out ... if there's any law that says we can't just declare 2007 to be a wash and jump straight to April 2008?

It would be a little confusing at first, sure. A lot of calendars would go to waste and I suppose there would be problems with the damn computers. But in another year or two, we'll forget it ever happened. Astronomers can put an asterisk next to their calculations to remind them to figure in the "lost year," but I can think of no other profession or population that wouldn't, in a month or two at most, get on with life as though it really were 2008 instead of 2007.

And my goodness, think of the benefits. For instance, everyone currently alive would automatically get to be one year older when they die. I'll bet that would be hugely appreciated by those nonagenarians who ask for nothing more than to make it into Willard Scott's Smucker's jam segment on the Today Show.

And "The 100-Day Year," as 2007 would likely be called by future historians, would surely turn out to be the least deadly year for Americans in Iraq since the war started. That should make those surge defenders happy, eh?

And best of all, if today were proclaimed April 11, 2008, we could hold the election this coming November, thereby eliminating a full year of bickering campaign bullshit, and we'd be less than seven months away from getting ourselves a brand new president!

If you ask me, that'd be worth the cost of a new calendar or two.

I didn't want to even utter the phrase "presidential campaign" until sometime after next Christmas. I haven't peeled the Kerry/Edwards stickers off my car from the last one, and here we are, knee-deep in the next one. If you ask me, no campaign season should last longer than nine months, from beginning to end. If Mother Nature can turn out a Mozart or an orangutan in nine months, surely we can do something as simple as decide whom we want to bitch about for the next four years.

But this bull has left the chute. Initially, I blamed the 24-hour news shops for stirring it up so early—CNN, MSNBC ... that one with all the idiots on it—and in part, I sympathize with their dilemma. What else are they going to do with commentator guys like Chris Matthews and Tucker Carlson but keep them busy punditing, even if this should rightly be the off-season? After all, it's not like those people can do anything useful.

But in the last few weeks, I have began to sense that the media was only responding to a profound hunger growling away in the belly of our nation, and that an inordinate number of Americans were paying close attention to this drawn-out ordeal. Republicans and Democrats alike, anyone with an interest in seeing the United States stick around for another century or two, are champing at the bit, eager to move on to the next chapter of American history. Eager to put these sad, miserable days behind us. Eager for a time when we can be thankful that the worst president of all time is no longer the one occupying the presidency.

Yes, Republicans and Democrats alike are looking at the Bush administration like an old crate of a lemon car that we have no choice but to keep chugging away in, at least until the tax refund check comes back. He's the slow cousin we have to put up with at family reunions. He's the tasteless crackers we have to nibble on until the main course gets here. He's the horrid stink we must pass through to get to fresh air. Increasingly, desperately, Republicans and Democrats alike just want him to be over with, and it's understandable that so much shopping around should be going on, as we gaze longingly through the windows at the new models.

All the latest polling shows that Democrats are generally satisfied with the Democratic line-up. It's not like every Democrat is whoopin' happy over every candidate. If I were king of the Dems, for instance, Joe Biden and Bill Richardson would be the front-runners instead of you-know-who and you-know-who-else. And then there's Gore, of course, who would become quite an inconvenient truth to a few leading money-raisers the moment he entered the race, were he to enter the race. But by and large, we Dems think we have a commendable field to chose from already, and we're confident that whichever one of them is eventually chosen will make us proud.

Republicans, on the other hand, are nervous. Their top contestants all seem to have trouble remembering what they're supposed to believe in from week to week, and from the front-runners to the ones that don't even get recognized in their own states, they all have that musty scent of eau d'also-ran about them.

And Republicans know it. That's why so many are praying Fred Thompson gets into the running. He's made a modest show biz career for himself playing the gruff, plant supervisor-type, and that's what Rs seem to be looking for. Thompson represents the very best in the Republican political tradition: an actor who, when all else fails, can at least convincingly pretend he knows what he's doing.

That's why Ronald Reagan remains such a warm spot in the tummies of nostalgic Republicans, you see—not because of anything he accomplished, but the way he delivered his lines. And there they go again. To date, Thompson has only hinted that he might join the race, and he's already coming in third in the GOP polling.

The deal is, Republicans don't care whether a president is actually governing the country or not. That's what corporations and their lobbyists are for, governing the country. All Republicans ask out of their leaders is a good show. A solid performance. A passable illusion of John Wayne grit, Gary Cooper determination and ... after their recent experience ... maybe someone who can pronounce three-syllable words.

That's why, if you ask me, Republicans should forget Thompson and draft Bruce Willis. Think about it ... in the movies, guys like Thompson only pretend to be the boss back in the office, while it's guys like Willis that pretend to go out and get the pretend dirty work done. See what I mean? As long as they're picking pretend leaders, they might as well go for the A-list action talent instead of the bit-part character actors.

OK. That's all I have to say on the presidential race for now. I'll wait a few weeks before I pretend I care about it again.

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