Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Send in the Clowns

It's official. Christmas is over and spring is nowhere in sight. Gardeners can't yet begin their annual outdoor decorating. In many parts of the country sportsmen can participate only in sports confined to a gym or other indoor venue. It will be months before warmer weather arrives. What's a person to do for entertainment?

Fear not! It's time for the merry politicians/clowns to tumble in and woo your vote. A full 10 months before the general election, the political candidates waltz across your TV screen on a daily basis. Like a clown car filled with jesters attired in brightly colored costumes, the candidates are searching for an audience.

It's a strange parade. Political candidates will do just about anything to get media coverage. Say something shocking or controversial. Support an unpopular issue. Rally for a local cause in [insert name of next campaign stop]. The typical candidate wants only to see his/her own smiling face on the flat screen so they can advance in the polls.

The polls. Nearly every network, independent station or wire service has its own "pollster" who draws a sampling from the day's potential voters, can massage the date to get the desired outcome. It's a little like an expression I happen to appreciate as a pet owner: herding cats. That maneuver is a study in wasted motion as the cats scatter and run to a location where they would rather be.

I had a friend who was describing a new man in her life, one that she eventually married.
"What does he do?" I asked.
"He's a pollster."
"Oh, he repairs furniture?" I assumed.
She smiled stiffly. "No, he reports what is happening in the world."
Seems to me there is more need in the world for men who repair furniture. Pollsters can make an audience believe what they want them to think. Men who repair furniture, on the other hand, can help you get a few more years out of a sofa.

Remember the old days of political convention balloting? Power brokers in smoke-filled rooms made and broke candidates and helped certain people get elected. No doubt careers turned on a whim as everyone tried to come out a winner. At least there was some suspense right up until the nominating convention.

I'm not about to show my political leanings. I hope that by November not everyone is so tired of all the preliminaries that they decide to skip the trip to the polls. But who can blame people after all this rhetoric?

There are already sound bites when a candidate misspeaks, looked tired or wears a "busy" necktie. How can we continue to listen to this drivel when the country is in a rather precarious position? We have high unemployment, disappearing jobs, evaporating budgets and dwindling hope for the future. I'd say we need to refocus on more important issues than whether the photo of a certain candidate was airbrushed.

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