Monday, July 16, 2007

Amateur Hour

The democratic presidential candidates — all fifty of them — were at an NAACP convention on Thursday, where Clinton and Edwards were chatting amongst themselves. They were discussing the best way to keep the rest of the democratic field — those polling at Mike Gravel levels — out of the primary debates and, unfortunately for them, their private conversation strayed into the range of an open mike. You can guess what happened next. Kucinich "expressed outrage," in the form press release rage, and Chris Dodd (who I thought dropped out) had some criticism for Clinton and Edwards that reminded me why I'm scared for the future:

"I'd remind them that the mike is always on," Dodd told reporters on Saturday after addressing a state convention of Utah Democrats.

It didn't used to bother me that the top tier candidates all have little political experience — after all, Dubya only served one term as governor and personally messed up a baseball team before being thrust way, way over his head in Washington — but come on, guys! Even I know that there's always someone recording you, and I knew that rule before Dubya was caught cursing and George Allen's racism got plastered all over YouTube. I'm afraid we're gonna wind up with a president who's trying to swat a fly one day and accidentally slams his hand on the nuclear button.

There was an article in the New York Times Magazine that I think highlights my fears well. It's not the lack of experience, per se — note that Lincoln only served one term in the House before he was elected president — but rather a culture that, for some reason, thinks that the ideal president should be some random mope off the street. Someone like us: fat, stupid, lazy, and unable to find America on a map. People who think our elections should be more like American Idol and our government should run like 24. People who've read all the Harry Potter books, plus The Da Vinci Code, but don't know the first three words of the Constitution.

This is what passes for rugged individualism these days.

And I resent being called an elitist... well, if you want to call me an elitist because I have a degree from an exclusive, overpriced liberal arts college or because I waste my money on a cup of European coffee a day rather than saving it and buying a keg of beer at the end of the week, that's cool (and correct), but not because I think people should be better than the stupid, spoiled, self-centered selves that most of us are. I don't want to look down upon people — even if I actually had a high opinion of myself, I wouldn't want to look down upon people — but since we put ourselves in charge of a whole country, no matter what Dick Cheney or Plato thinks, we've got to start putting in the time and energy to improve ourselves as human beings.