Disconcerting thought of the week: The presidential campaign, to say nothing of all the other races, has ten more months to go. That means thousands of hours of analysis, millions of words of commentary and mud that comes up to your waist. Which is why I inevitably shake my head and find myself quoting New York Times columnist Gail Collins who said, memorably, “Who cares?” As noted in previous times, I stay away from comments political, either here or in general conversation. It’s just all too much. Plus, still more hand-wringing from me won’t make five cents worth of difference.

Because frankly, what would one say who is not paid to offer endless critiques that are typically presented almost completely without humor? What you do read or hear is mostly expressed with great gravity and a sense of world-changing importance. It’s not for grownups. We counsel children to save their pennies and behave; it should not be necessary or likely for politicians to berate adults for the same thing, followed by the appraisal of pundits who tote the score.

What will happen in the end — i.e., next January — as you know, a government of one party or another will assume authority and the squabbling will go on as it always has. The only politician who ever got it right — that is to say, honestly — was Harry Truman who once famously said, “When I leave office, nothing should have changed.”  

(Well, O.K., here’s another great one from Truman: “My choice in early life was either to be a piano-player in a whorehouse or a politician. And to tell the truth, there’s hardly any difference.”)

And of course, there’s the rampant lying. When I was a kid and told a lie — which was rare, naturally — I was required to wash my mouth out with soap. With today’s crop of aspiring office seekers, Proctor & Gamble couldn’t keep up.

You’d really think, for example, that the almost laughable tonnage of falsehoods uttered by Newt Gingrich would never survive long enough to earn even a single vote, but his support — up or down — continues. And that’s with proven documentation of his casual way with the truth. And I guess in the end, his performance, along with so many others, casts grave doubt on the, well, intelligence of the electorate. Are people really that stupid? Or does dismay and disgust eventually trump good judgement, along with a taste for cheap drama?

What does it say about the 40 percent members of one party who actually do believe the President is not an American and are equally convinced that he is a Muslim (and would it matter)?

There are, of course, countless Americans who always vote the party line, regardless the name on the ballot, with little interest in ability or suitability for office. And for sure, those non-participants get what they deserve.

These are times, I’m afraid, when the voting franchise gets less and less worthwhile thought and the hucksters are gaining more and more prominence. When price has achieved far more importance than value. Like Harry, my mom had it right as well when she made the observation that talk to a Californian for any length of time and the price of housing will come up. You simplify that and it comes down to what’s in it for me.

So politics. Who cares? Good point. But there is worth in trying to keep these people honest, insofar as that’s possible. The ongoing dialogue helps, to a degree, but the national intent to hoodwink a gullible electorate will prevail. One can only hope that the damage to the nation will never be insurmountable. I’ll be holding my breath, and for the most part, my tongue.

 

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