The Breakfast Table

Only Losers Run for President

Dear Steve:

Of course you’re right about the cult-of-celebrity politics; it’s just that I still don’t understand how the two current benefactors of the American obsession with that celebrity got where they are. On the one hand, you have George Quincy Bush–and any romantic view of his dad as a guy unjustly toppled by a womanizing schemer is historical revisionism, pure and simple (remember the last recession? went on for perhaps 6 or 7 years? Bush Sr. acted like Hoover? didn’t give a press conference for months? couldn’t put both nouns and verbs in the same sentence?). On the other is Al Gore, notable for (as you put it about JFK Jr.) not living up to his Fair Deal hero father’s high standards of integrity and cojones. How can these two turkeys be our leading candidates for the highest office in the land?

The answer, methinks, is that the presidency attracts losers because it’s not even in the top 500 highest offices of the land. The top slots belong to CEOs, the guys (and gals who act like guys) who really run America, whose lobbyists write the bills, whose contributions fuel the campaigns of lackeys like Bill and Hill. What did America ever do to deserve this, anyway?

By the way, there was a cool NPR spot on conspicuous consumption this morning. (I was too sleepy to note the reporter’s name.) As she went on and on about $12,000 bottles of 1870 wine (actually, I’d kind of like to try one) and a Park Avenue apartment building where the grungy units start at $4 million (why anyone would want to live on a street where your furniture shifts whenever the commuter trains rumble beneath is beyond me), she cleverly pointed out the analogies with the ‘80s economic bubble and the dot-com one … the big difference now is that only seven people ever benefited from the ‘80s boom. When this one heads south, it’ll affect a lot more people who think of themselves as middle-class.

Today’s New York Times lead may be the stupidest ever: “A PLAN IS IN WORKS TO PUT OFF A VOTE ON TEST BAN PACT: Clinton Satisfies a Demand by Lott in Effort to Avert Showdown.” Gotta get the crank out of the water supply down on West 43rd Street; what the hell is wrong with the headline writers? First of all, no one cares about the test ban. Maybe they should, but they don’t, and I don’t blame them. We did the Cold War, and it was fine then, but now is now and even though the Russians still have zillions of nukes pointing at us and nothing has really changed, it’s sooooo over. More important, how about something sexier? Try: “NUKE VOTE NUKED: Clinton Sucks Up to a Lott”.

And they wonder why the average age of a newspaper reader is deceased.

Best Regards,