Andy Stone: A Stone’s Throw
August 5, 2008
I have to tell you, I am sick of the 2008 presidential election campaign.
It’s embarrassing to admit it ” I’m a news guy, I’m supposed to be addicted to this stuff ” but that’s the way it is.
I am flat-out sick of it.
If I’m in my car and election news comes on the radio, I switch the station. If I’m watching TV and I see an “Election 2008” logo on the screen, I hit the mute button. The other night at a dinner party, I actually stuck my fingers in my ears when the conversation turned to the election.
It’s not that I don’t care. I do care. Desperately. The 2008 election is the most important election since … well, actually, since the 2004 election. And we, as a nation, really blew that one, didn’t we? We were like investors buying more Enron stock after it crashed because that nice Mr. Ken Lay promised us it was coming back.
And with that on my mind, I can’t avoid a wave of stomach-turning fear at the thought that we might easily make the same kind of stupid mistake again.
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So watching the election news is like watching a horror film, right at the point where the clean-cut young couple stops their car in the pouring rain to pick up a hitchhiker. And, just as it’s useless to scream “No! Don’t stop!” at those smiling, helpful, doomed young idiots in the movie, I know there’s nothing I can really do about this election.
I’ll vote, of course, and my one vote will count as much as anyone else’s. And, sure, I write a newspaper column, but people don’t read this column looking for guidance on national politics. (You don’t, do you? No, I thought not. Whew!) So there’s not much I can really do ” and certainly nothing that requires me to follow the campaign news.
And, even beyond the pointlessness of giving myself a stomachache by following the election news, there’s the pointlessness of the election news itself.
He’s ahead! No, wait! The other guy’s ahead! He looks like a winner ” that’s good! No, he looks too much like a winner ” that’s bad! He looks like a loser. He looks too old. He looks too smart. He looks too dumb. He’s ahead! Behind! They’re tied!
Make it stop.
Is it any wonder I stuck my fingers in my ears at that dinner party?
But even that’s not what’s really bothering me. What’s really bothering me is that one of these two guys is going to win. And the election news is making me like my guy a little less ” and hate the other guy a little more ” every day.
Liking the guy I support a little less every day is probably inevitable. As the campaign drags on, even someone you support is bound to make a statement you don’t like, bound to make just one compromise too many, go one step too far. They’re all small mistakes, small steps in the wrong direction, but they have to nibble away at the enthusiasm of anyone who’s a halfway honest human being. (And I am exactly that: halfway honest. Beat you to it.)
But hating the other guy, that’s the hard one ” because he just might win, and then what are you going to do?
And right now, the “other guy,” John McCain, seems to be sprinting ” with wild, reckless enthusiasm ” right for the bottom of the barrel. I don’t want to hate him, but he seems to be turning into a classic example of Subdivision Naming Syndrome.
(Yes, I know that’s a terribly clumsy term.) That syndrome is the one that results in subdivisions being named after what was destroyed to build the subdivision. If a subdivision is named Elk Meadows, that means that once there were meadows filled with elk ” and now there are only streets and houses. No meadows. No elk.
And John McCain is running for president as an honest, honorable man. A man of strong moral fiber and impeccable character. That’s his “brand”: Honest, Honorable Man.
Those are, perhaps, all virtues he once had. But they were virtues he has had to destroy (like the elk and the meadows) as he campaigns.
Why do I say that? Well, having said how much I hate campaign news, I’m not going to start digging around in this particular pool of muck to stir up details. So I will simply point out that after one particular McCain attack ad, NBC News reporter Andrea Mitchell, who had direct knowledge of the topic of McCain’s ad, said, “The McCain commercial on this subject is completely wrong! Factually wrong.”
And Sen. Chuck Hagel, a Republican who says he considers McCain a close friend and who also had direct knowledge of the incident in question, said of McCain’s ad, “I do not think it was appropriate.” Perhaps not the strongest language, but when you have one Republican senator criticizing another Republican senator ” who happens to be running for president ” well, I think even carefully worded criticism is pretty dramatic.
Don’t get me wrong. There are plenty of solid grounds for attacking Barack Obama.
But an honorable man wouldn’t base his attacks on lies.
Frankly, I don’t want to hear any more about it. If by some sad national mistake John
McCain does become president, I will have to hope he can be an honorable man.
And overwhelming evidence to the contrary on a daily basis will not be helpful.
And so I change the station, hit the mute button, stick my fingers in my ears and turn to the comics pages.
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