"If you don't know where you are going any road will take you there..." - Alice In Wonderland.
I have had the misfortune of having had to spend most of the past week sick at home with a very nasty bit of digestive illness. I have kept myself occupied in a variety of manners but, as I have felt weak and tired for most of the time, I have tried to address my boredom with a bit of passive listening to cable news channels. This excursion into the intellectual wilds of mainstream American culture has provided me with an anthropological view of the fear and loathing to which our once and perhaps future great nation has fallen. Maybe Hunter saw all of this coming and felt unable to take yet another savage journey in search of the country's lost dream.
In this blog yesterday, I described some of the total sense of weirdness that had washed over me - the early symptomsof an excessive bout of Marshalla McLuhan style casual cable news viewing . This morning the curious and curiouser, the weird and weirder all seem to remain on the normal side of the looking glass and I have definitely fallen into a whole new psychotropic rabbit hole in the fabric of bizarre.
I've followed politics as sport for much of my life. I enjoyed the great political maneuvers by campaigns like Reagan 1980 in which Lee Atwater took a guy associated with the lunatic fringe and convinced us all that he was really the grand pop we all loved. An equal level of skill goes to the brilliant Clinton machine in 1992 who took every imaginable scandal and made it look like kids pulling the hidden ball trick in little league - now you see it, now you don't. Both of these guys drew comparisons with teflon and managed to spend two terms of abuse hurled at them without crumbling.
On the other side of the scoresheet, the 1996 Michael Dukakis and 2000 Al Gore campaigns could probably not have been executed more poorly - or at least I thought this until I spent a week listening to white people shouting at each other about election 2008 and the McCain organization.
The Dukakis campaign got derailed by Willy Horton race baiting and their own LSD inspired images of the Massachusetts Governor playing soldier with a Pee Wee Herman inspired helmet on his undersized frame. Can anyone remember how many violent felons got parole from the Federal system during the Reagan/Bush years? Of course not, John Sasso let the punch land without a counter - game, set, match Atwater.
On Thursday afternoon, the Drudge (it rhymes with sludge) Report broke the harrowing story of a young white woman who had allegedly suffered a horid assault by a "six foot, four inch black man" who beat her, sexually abused her, gave her a black eye and, most strangely of all, "carved a backwards letter B on her face." My loyal readers, in my most gonzo moods I cannot even start to imagine anything as disturbing as this item repeated over and over on cable news. By yesterday evening, though, the woman apologized for inventing the story (in the reality of 2008, it wasn't actually obvious on the outset that shit of this quality weirdness doesn't actually occur in the stream of possibilities) and Pittsburg news channels reported that the McCain Pennsylvania communications director had shopped the story all over town before the police had released the original report. The Obama campaign didn't even need to respond to this one as it fell right into the bag like a soccer goalie accidentally kicking the ball into his own net.
The Al Gore campaign in 2000 did its best to distance itself from the very popular horndog William Jefferson Clinton. Clearly, the Gore people forgot that Slick Willy still held the hearts of a nation of screw-ups and conceded the quickie sex vote to the weed whacking Bushniks. While W. remains massively unpopular, Senator McCain has decided, after voting to support the president 90% of the time over the past eight years to suddenly attack the guy. Again, the Obama people need only sit back and grin on the television while the Arizona Senator places the pistol in his mouth and counts down the final ten days until the actual election.
Even worse than the miserable campaign efforts by Dukakis and Gore, the McCain team rises to new heights in public incompetence . While Clinton dealt with a scandal per week or so back in '92, Team McCain/Palin now appears to manage a new one on an hourly basis and critics said there wouldn't be enough content for the 24 hour news cycle.
If any of the following didn't actually happen, please write to me as I may have slipped into some kind of paranoid flashback and perhaps my twisted mind is generating false memories again:
Last night, MSNBC played a tape of Joe "Not the Plumber" McCain calling 911 in Northern Virginia to complain about traffic. When the emergency operator suggested this didn't rise to the level of an actual emergency he told them to "fuck off." As it is a crime to abuse the 911 system, the operator returned the call and left a voice mail for Joe "The Serious Dumb Ass" McCain warning him of this little fact. To prove that he can outdistance even Billy Carter or Bubba Clinton in idiotic sibling statements, Joe returned the call to scold the 911 people. Again, even Lewis Carroll couldn't make this kind of stuff up no matter how much opium he had sprinkled into his oatmeal.
We learned yesterday that the McCain /Palin campaign paid the Alaska governor's hair stylist more than twice the compensation received by their top foreign affairs advisor. They are relly the gang that can't find a priority when it, like say the stock market, comes crashing down on them.
Rush Limbaugh, the big fat idiot of a conservative commentator yesterday announced that he didn't actually believe that Senator Obama was visiting his sick grandmother on her death bed in Hawaii but, rather, had traveled to the Sensamilla State for some secret and nefarious reason. With friends like these, can McCain afford an enemy? Even Sy T. Greenbacks has more of a heart than the obese junky over in Miami.
Typical of himself, Fox News' Bill O'Reilly fell into a paranoid ranting about the Neilson ratings, the New York Times, General Electric and the Obama campaign all conspiring to make his show seem less popular than it really is. Huh? While I know there is an international conspiracy against my own personal happiness, I have never grown as delusional as Mr. Fair and Siriously Unbalanced or Off of His Meds Again.
Keep in mind my friends, all of this happened yesterday. Dukakis and Gore had bad campaigns, Reagan and Clinton had bad weeks, these guys can't go more than a few hours without planting a designer Italian pump straight into a bucket of pre-digested liquid protein.
On the other side of the ticket, Congressman John Mirtha, elected 17 times by the people of Western Pennsylvania pronounced that the people in that region tended to be racists. Not to miss a chance at a blunder, Senator McCain stood before a large crowd and said, "The Democrats are saying bad things about the people of Western Pennsylvania and I couldn't agree with them more," I think I heard him unclick the safety on the pistol in his pie hole.
Senator Joe "Not the Plumber" Biden couldn't keep his hooves out of his mouth and decided to announce to anyone listening that an Obama election would probably bring on an international event of Cuban Missile Crisis proportions. His statement, without editing or much augmentation is now running as a McCain campaign commercial.
Meanwhile, Governor Palin was deposed by a Special Prosecutor in the "Troopergate" investigation she ordered on herself. At least Clinton could blame AG Reno for his special prosecutors but inviting an investigation of oneself while in the heat of a national campaign is unprecedented. Then again, James Michael Curly was once reelected as mayor of Boston while in jail for graft so, who knows, maybe a bit of nostalgia for criminal despotism has come into fashion.
Upon rereading this piece, I still struggle to believe all of it. Hell, believing any but the historical references is nearly impossible. Could it, did it all happen in a single week on cable news? To paraphrase George "THe Real President" Clinton, have they made thinking illegal yet?
Another thing that popped out as I reread this piece is the real clever sort of rhyme I attempted near the start of the item between the name McLuhan and the word viewing will be lost on people reading this essay with a speech synthesizer or at least the Alex voice on a Macintosh. For thos who do not know him, Marshall McLuhan was the father of "media science," the person who coined the term "global village" and provided us with the most important criticism of television in his 1960s masterpiece, "Casual Viewing." His last name is pronounced mick clue in which would rhyme with a slurred "view in" version of viewing. I had found a really cute intellectual nerd bit of word play and, sadly, it will be lost on the majority of BC readers.