I haven't been posting on political stuff lately for one primary reason: it's too damn depressing. Depressing to see the dire state of the political process in America. Depressing to watch someone I, a lifelong Democrat, almost voted for once turn from a "straight-talking maverick" into just another candidate acting like the ends justify the means. Depressing to see the shocking quantity of mouth breathing that passes for political discourse these days. Depressing to see America either not care or buy into the lies as if their next meal depended on it.
Much has been made of McCain's consultants brought on board to "right the ship." They are fingered as the Rovian proteges responsible for the recent negative barrage of campaigning. But here's the most depressing thing for me, a former political person myself: in all my graduate studies, in all of my practical experiences, there was never any disagreement on the one fundamental principle of being a political consultant: the candidate is in charge. You offer your expertise, you strongly, strongly advise the candidate on a variety of ways to campaign, fundraise, speak, whatever; some of them less than shiny and happy. But the final ethical responsibility lies with the candidate. As in, "I'm John McCain and I Approved This Message." You can pitch Willie Horton to the candidate, but unless THE CANDIDATE says he won't go there, the campaign goes there. The final, ethical responsibility for the conduct of the campaign always lies with the candidate.
Which is why I grew to despise Hillary during the primaries and why I am well on my way to loathing John McCain in the general. You can blame Howard Wolfson or Karl Rove or Mark Penn all you want. But when a campaign runs an ad that is borderline racist, when a campaign allows its surrogates to hold forth in deeply offensive ways, when a campaign resorts to innuendo and fear to drive voter participation in this democracy down, you don't have a rotten campaign. You have a rotten candidate.
A rotten candidate aided and abetted by none other than the MSM (mainstream media), who need a sideshow, some bread and circuses to keep the public (themselves?) titillated so they don't notice their abdication of professional responsibility and their disturbing coziness to the very people they purport to keep honest.
A rotten candidate aided and abetted, sadly, by us. The public. The ones who apparently can't keep our candidates as straight in our minds as the characters on The Hills. Who apparently missed the high school lesson on caveat emptor: buyer beware; that maybe we should assume someone is trying to sell us something (a product or a belief or an opinion or a candidate), and maybe we should therefore think critically about what we're being told. Or, we could just get back to watching So You Think You Can Dance.
Me, I've been depoliticizing my inner chi by watching "Randy Jackson Presents America's Best Dance Crew." Yes, for the dancing but mostly because simply repeating the title kills a full minute and harmlessly releases a hefty quantity of otherwise inchoate rage in the process. I mean, who besides Donald Trump and Aaron Spelling need their names above the title? There's a reason this is not called "E Presents Star Spangled Haggis's Best Blog Crew." Such magnanimity involves a great deal of humility and integrity and a firm sense of that which is appropriate.
And also because I am certain I'd be laughed at for the mere attempt.