Some time ago I found myself going down the grocery aisle of presidential contenders that had been coughed up from the inky pits of party politics with a totally open willingness to eschew any old resentments or prejudices (politically speaking) in an effort to find someone, anyone, who might right our mighty ship of state, and guide us through the troubled waters we have found ourselves in as a nation. Alas, even with this receptive search mode pickings were alarmingly slim. I won't dwell on why the rejects were rejected; most of the decisions were quite easy ;(President Kucinich, anyone? I think not). But then there was Barack Obama. Once you got past the name (and it is not too difficult in our great polyglotinous melting pot), and started looking at the man, you had to consider deeply. My first reaction was that he was sent right out of central casting: young, black, not too good looking but not too bad looking, family man, not a bad speaker, (not as great as everyone seems to think he is, but then everyone always said that sonorous bore Clinton was eloquent as well). Okay, but was there any there there? Well, he was short on Senatorial experience, but he did make a good call on Iraq (as it turns out). But it was in his biography that there seemed to be the greatest hope. As a son of mixed race parents he represents the embodiment of a long held dream of this country: the healing of the wounds between black and white. And as a Christian man with a Moslem heritage he represented a potential bridge in the understanding of these two poor misrepresented and ill-abused faiths. We could hope to have hope, which is about as good as we can expect in our cynical times. But maybe it was unfair to heap so much hope on poor Barack. He reminds me of a syndrome that has occurred to me several times over the years, and may have occurred to others: you see someone intriguing; beautiful; wise looking; full of mystery and power: you fantasize about the greatness of this person if only you could connect with them; and then finally you chance to hear them speak and from their beautiful sculpted lips comes the braying voice of a trailer park madonna: fantasy dissipated...So too with the Great Black Hope; the more familiar we become with him the more it becomes clear that he was chosen in the modern equivalent of the smoke-filled room: the smoke-free room, by the same gang of hucksters that have coughed up every other sorry hairball for our consideration over the last generations. He was burnished with a brilliant patina of bullet- proof cover: you can't criticize him without risking being called anti-
Black, anti-White, anti-Christian or anti-Muslim...Wow...It really makes you disgusted with how candidates are selected at all. We are all so addled by the over -influence of movies in our culture that we treat the selection of our nation's leader like we are casting a role in a big budget blockbuster that we are going to be forced to watch for 4 to 8 years. In past times you were expected to have actually done something to deserve the opportunity to run for president, like, I don't know , lead in a war that we won (are you listening, McCain?), or craft a Constitution or something. I know Yoda says that wars do not make one great, but winning a war would be nice for a change and I think would show some greatness. But what we get to choose from at this point are only the greedy homunculi spawned by spotty party bosses to be their face to the world. We gotta do better. Only the rich seventh lawyer's son of a seventh lawyer's son can even dare to think he can engineer the money for a run. (It helps if one has a rich 18th century forbear) . Here's my suggestion, and please don't pooh- pooh it out hand. Keep the system as is: don't even waste a cent trying to undo two and a half centuries of gerrymandering. Instead, throw up a third party candidate from the Reality Party. That's right, let's hammer our Nielsons shares into swords! Let's use the very thing that has been poisoning our minds for these last years, Reality Television, to select a third party candidate and let democracy reign. So You Think You Can Run the Country can sweep through thousands and thousands of Presidential wannabes across the nation , narrowing the choices by putting the candidates through grueling tests and scenarios until we find the best person that our 33 cents a minute phone votes can select and then throw them in the faces of the two- party puppet people. Can we do much worse?It sounds a little ridiculous until you see Mitt Romney flipping pancakes in New Hampshire and realize that the circus is in town anyway. Let the contestants prove they care by visiting schools, prisons, hospitals, nursing homes, foreign countries, etc, and work through microcosmic solutions that would mould their mettle for the big job. At least you'd have an idea of what you were getting before the trailer park madonna brayed. It would be fun to watch too, might just be a ratings hit. If we do try it, though, let's just hope we can have a better impact on the political world than American Idol had on the music world. (Fantasia, anyone? I think not.) Okay, you can pooh-pooh it now if you want to.