Dancing with the Candidates
I believe I could very well be the only person in America with a TV set who has never watched a single so-called reality show. I also believe that many of you are sitting there convinced that if I'm not outright lying, I am certainly stretching the truth to the breaking point. How could anyone, you're asking yourselves, not have tuned in for 15 minutes of "Survivor" or "The Bachelor" or caught a tango or two on "Dancing With the Stars"?
The answer quite simply is that I'm just not interested. I'm not a snob where TV is concerned. I watch "Monk" if I'm home, some old movies on TCM, baseball from April to October, and I'm a big fan of the Canadian sit com, "Corner Gas."
But why would I want to spend my time watching Jane Seymour or Marie Osmond dancing or Simon Cowell scowling? A better question is: why are so many of you planning your lives around these shows? Don't people have hobbies anymore? Is nobody out there crocheting or putting ships in bottles or whittling? Isn't anyone playing canasta or charades?
Of all the things you folks are watching on the tube, the unlikeliest of all the shows are the so-called presidential debates. I'm not sure what they are, but they're certainly not debates. And seeing as how such folks as Dennis Kucinich, Bill Richardson and Ron Paul -- people whose only chance of winding up in the White House would be as members of a tour group -- are still showing up on stage, they're hardly presidential. Speaking of unlikely candidates, isn't it time that we all stopped enabling poor Joe Biden? I, for one, say it's time for his friends and relatives to conduct an intervention and tell him the truth; namely, that he's never going to be President Biden, and that the best he can hope for is that he'll someday replace Harold Stassen as the answer to a trivia question.
I confess that I tuned in to a couple of the early debates, but once I realized that I was never going to hear an original thought or an amusing response from any of the contenders, I saw no further reason to subject myself to Chris Matthews, Wolf Blitzer or YouTube.
I happen to believe that if you listen to politicians too much, it promotes brain rot. These are people, after all, who actually believe that if they say "at this point in time" instead of "now," they are being Churchillian in their rhetoric.
The truth is that I don't like politicians. With only a few exceptions, I don't think they're necessarily evil or more venal than other people, but they have an unsavory appetite for power and influence. They really believe they are entitled to tell other people how to live and, what's more, they're convinced that they spend other people's money more wisely than those who actually go out and earn it.
As with every other addiction, it takes larger and larger doses to satisfy their craving. So whether they start out as mayors, state legislators, congressmen or senators, inevitably they aspire to the biggest high of all -- the presidency. In the past, people who thought they were Napoleon were deemed insane, and then institutionalized and treated for their delusion. But these days, when a nonentity such as Ron Paul claims he is presidential timber, we find millions of people prepared to vote for him.
Frankly, I find the desire to be commander in chief as weird as the desire some people have to snort cocaine or shoot heroin into their arms. I mean, just look at George Bush. I believe he's a decent man trying his level best, for the most part, to do the right thing, but every day he wakes up to find himself vilified. People equate him with Hitler, insist he's unconcerned about young Americans dying in Iraq, claim he's only interested in propping up the price of Halliburton stock and, for good measure, is Dick Cheney's puppet. All things concerned, the amazing thing isn't that the man's approval rate hovers around 30%, but that it's even in double figures, seeing as how the MSM mugs him on a regular basis.
If I were president, I would happily let the opposition party control the House and the Senate so long as I had CNN, the three major networks, the New York Times and the Washington Post in my hip pocket. One merely has to compare the popular perception of George Bush with that of Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Jimmy Carter, to see where the real power rests in America.
In 2008, I will continue to avoid all the political preening on TV. Then, come November, I will vote for whichever Republican ultimately gets nominated. That's because I believe that Hillary Clinton, John Edwards and Barack Obama, all exemplify why the jackass is the appropriate symbol of the Democratic party.
Television writer Burt Prelutsky is the author of Conservatives Are From Mars, Liberals Are From San Francisco (101 Reasons Why I'm Happy I Left the Left).
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