You know, of course, that the free-floating envy we regular folk have for you political reporters is all about the post-event kickback session in the hotel bar. We imagine that the lubricated and informed nature of your skewering is just better than ours. What political junkie wouldn’t give anything to hear U.S. News and World Report, say, tell the Baltimore Sun that for a guy who’s been marinated in money, Dubya seems particularly beset by plural articles and singular verbs. I really am waiting–maybe the next debate?–for someone to ask him what caused World War II, and for him to tell us it was Lust, Avarice, Sloth, Happy, and Doc. Dean Acheson book or no Dean Acheson book, the guy clearly doesn’t know from history.
To show solidarity with you, I watched the whole encounter, larded up as it was with odd rules. Even if they all meant what they said–or even wrote it–a president simply cannot do everything he wants, and can’t do anything by himself, so who really cares what gets said there? It’s all just blah-blah-blah. The only useful byproduct, perhaps, is that we get to see who’s uncomfortable with concepts, or who oughta’ be given a pulpit.
After a while, I couldn’t even make myself listen. Do you think I have A.D.D.? McCain was the only one who came across as smart, informed, and seemingly unscripted, though even he, in the wrap-up, seemed a little bit on autopilot. Maybe all candidates–both parties–could just stipulate that they plan to be good, fair, more, better. The impressions I came away with were that Keyes works the plantation metaphors for reasons unclear to me. I already know he’s black. Bauer looks like a toy … a doll whose name I cannot for the life of me remember. And Bush … well, he just seems like some lucky sum’ bitch who was whisked out onto center stage, no rehearsal necessary. (This is assuming, of course, one imagines it lucky to wind up in the presidential race.) Not to be fixated or anything, but Bush finessed the Dean Acheson book challenge. The problem is that I haven’t read that book, so I don’t know if they caught him out or not. And I want to know. Do you know? Maybe they could put a truth squad up there when these guys go at it.
Since I was invited into no bar after the “debate,” I read the New Republic, which, strangely, gave me an overview of some of what I had just seen: In this election year, it’s smart to be dumb. Anti-intellectualism plays well and equates with “character.” Oh, brother. Anyway, come on out of that desert. And don’t forget orrinhatch.com.