Jon Stewart, as usual, conveyed some sense of the absurdity of the GOP primaries, recently comparing the candidates with a Whitman's Sampler. Poking through the dreary selections, Stewart dispensed with Michelle Bachman (too nutty) and Rick Santorum (too gooey), concluding that Republicans will dilly and dally - only to select the boring chocolate square in the center: Mitt Romney ("the little messenger boy" covered in gobs of "Santorum").
Still, I don't think Stewart went quite far enough. You see, much of his argument relied on the supposedly shared assumption that most folks wade through many of Whitman's offerings while enjoying few of them. Maybe I'm alone here, but I like pretty much everything that comes in a Whitman's box. Yeah, even the cherry cordial. [OK, maybe I said too much here.]
Sure, few people will agree on which candy tastes best. That's why the boring choice usually wins a popularity contest. Indeed, as much as I'd like to believe that Michelle Bachman suspended her campaign this morning once Iowans had concluded that she's bat-shit crazy, I know that many voters base their choices on electability rather than sanity. At the same time, plenty of people genuinely like Bachman's brand of battiness. Nuts can be popular too, even if they fail to win the mainstream taste-test.
So I was thinking this morning: what's something that pretty much all people agree that they dislike, even more than those occasionally regrettable Whitman's choices? Let's see. Reflecting on the past month, I'll bet all of us can remember at least one holiday party we attended just because we were expected to be there. Yet most folks still like holiday parties, yes? OK, how about fruitcakes? Who really likes fruitcakes? Maybe a smaller number of people. But some folks like 'em. Not ironically but for real.
Yet there is one thing, no matter the season, that almost everyone hates: television campaign advertisements. Think about it. Even if you believe in the candidate, don't you get tired of seeing his or her face in your living room every five minutes? All those blathering platitudes, all those banal slogans, all those clichéd images. Does the candidate support education? Here comes the footage of fresh-faced school kids raising their hands all at once! Does the candidate have a plan to "get America back to work?" There's a hard-working joe turning a wrench.
And we all know the script for the opposition spot: eerie music, grainy photos, and that earnest, alarmed voice ("haven't we had enough of [whoever, whatever]?" We suffer the same drama season after season, and maybe we even believe that some candidates are "Bad For America." Yet I don't know a single person who actually likes the onslaught of campaign effluvia we must endure every two years. Not one. And yet we feel powerless to stop it.
What can we do?
Well, I have one idea that, oddly enough, I borrow from Newt Gingrich. More tomorrow…