Saturday, November 3, 2012

Dance of the Dead

Halloween is over and the November election is but days away.  It's a special time of year when, if they know what's good for them, those in swing states are busy consuming large quantities of their left over 'Trick or Treat' candy; and washing it down with whatever version of brewed, fermented, or distilled products that they can lay their hands on.  This tinkering with the body's hormonal balance may in fact be their only hope of anesthetizing themselves from the incessant political commercials they are currently being forced to endure.  (And is a practice which has been surprisingly successful in keeping down the suicide rate down in swing states during election years.)  You see, it's time for the "Dance of the Dead".

This is not by the way, a term that you will likely hear from the media, since it's one that I 'borrowed' in attempt to explain the political poppycock occurring from now thru Monday night across the fruited plain; but especially in a favored few places.  The media after all, is too busy preparing to cash in on the upcoming quadrennial events to have any compassion for their audience.  Every news reader, political analyst, pollster, pundit, and former politician (along with their familial relation wannabes) are queuing themselves in front of every camera and microphone they can find to share their dearth of information and lack of insight with an audience that's only watching because the reruns of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" aren't on until later this evening. They will talk about how close the race this year really is (otherwise who would care, since it's only about who will be President for the next four years and not who will win 'American Idol' this one), while they micro-analyze percentage point polling changes for each of the swing states, and get an occasional plug in for their web-site or latest book release.

Of course most of what they say will be way too 'inside baseball' for anyone outside the Beltway to understand it (how else could they impress us or get us to sign up for something so that they can explain it to us); and the rest will prove little more than self-serving nonsense designed for media personalities who likewise need to promote their own careers.  After all, the candidates themselves have been out there raising money and getting their message is out for over six years; so what point can possibly be served in repeating it incessantly now.  What, you say that while it may seem like it's been a decade, that the campaign could only have been going on for four years at most?  Really?  As I recall, the Democratic candidate is an incumbent who's been continuously running for president since soon after he got elected to his first term in the Senate.  The Republican likewise ran for this high office in 2008, but got thrown off the island early during the last election cycle.  These two guys have been running for office so long that some of the positions have actually changed in the intervening period!  (Which apparently is now calling 'evolving' and not 'flip-flopping', unless it's being done by the opposition candidate and not yours.) 

There they are however, still out on the stump in every city, village, and hamlet that can provide them with a camera-ready audience of middle Americans (carefully screened so the proper demographic shows up on camera), repeating the same talking points they have for years to well trained audiences.  It doesn't even seem to matter that the only people that they're speaking to are their own, since such events at this point are by invitation only, and are carefully screened to insure that only the faithful are present.  Apparently, the need to fill twenty-four hour a day media coverage means that it's still vitally important for them to preach to the choir as long as the cameras are in attendance.  Repetition is the new rule, in some twisted (though sadly perhaps, accurate) belief that if you don't start speaking again before the last echos of your sermon die out, somehow they they will forget both you and your message.  As for the media, they cannot help but be there to recording this repetitious rhetoric for posterity, lest some part of that TV audience learn to tell the difference between a small town in Ohio and one in Iowa.

And when it's not the candidates themselves attempting to delivery carefully and barely restrained sermons to the party faithful, it's their fire and brimstone surrogates delivering partisan admonitions deemed too uncivil for the candidate himself.  Sniping and scurrilous claims fill the air so that even small market local media outlets won't be left out of the game.  Vice Presidential candidates assume their places as zealous attack dogs (though some have perhaps rightfully characterized incumbent VP Joe Biden as having morphed from zealot to crazed demagogue); but they are far from alone in their efforts.  From the former mayor of NYC to the former governor of Ohio, these stand-ins will spout ever greater amounts of acrimony (much of it often subject to selective interpretation of the facts) to ever dwindling audiences; and the farther away from the candidate they get, the more highly charged the vitriol in their message. Keeping the candidate protected under a cloak of 'plausible deniability', all of this is of course designed to whip up those attending into an all but rabid partisan frenzy for a media consumption that shows enthusiasm for the candidate.  The media plays along for their own reasons however, watching these side ring events in the hopes of snagging the Biblical scale gaffe or unforgivable faux pas.  This doesn't seem to deter these political apostles from challenging civility however, asking only for their fair share of face time on camera (and perhaps the occasional opportunity to comment on one of the cable news shows).

Unlike the debates or conventions however, these last days stand out in this long and bitter campaign for ... absolutely nothing.  Their tired oft-repeated rhetoric and disturbing diatribes add nothing to the national debate and do little more than provide a cadaverous song and dance.  Only the news and political junkies of this nation (like me) even occasionally watch, and we often do so in horror.  After all, voting has been going on in many places across the country for a month; and with the exception of the Chicago area, those who've already done so cannot participate again.  The party faithful, if they've not already cast their ballot, know how they will decide and long for the opportunity to do so.  If there are still undecided voters out there, as we are often told, they should probably have their polling cards taken away from them immediately; lest they contaminate the process by casting their vote based on a coin flip or random button push.  This weekend's 'Show That Never Ends; is actually nothing more than cheap bit of political / media theater where the actors are locked in circle jerk in which one half is a group jaded opportunists hoping to add to their resumes and the other a bunch of self-serving whores seeking to enhance their own.  (I'll leave you to decide which is which.)  I could say more about the twisted sexual nature of this Dance of the Dead weekend, but the tiny shreds of decorum that still remain a part of my shady character prevent me from using any of the off-color terminology that I can barely restrain myself from. (Though I must say that if the premise of my original metaphor is correct, much of what occurs this weekend could be considered little more than political and media-monitored necrophilia).

As for me, I have little fascination with the dead (and don't even watch zombie movies).  What's more, any woman that has ever gamboled with me quickly recognized that while not guilty of permanent foot damage, I am seldom confused with Fred Astaire (though I do look pretty good in a tux).  I will therefore not be attending this weekend's quadrennial Dance of the Dead.  How could I in good conscience when there's a 'Real Wives of Mission, Kansas' marathon on this weekend?     

(In the spirit of full confession, I should point out for those of you interested, my next self-serving novel, "The Black Helicopters Will Soon Be Here to collect the Tin-Foil Hats Who Got Mugged While Trying To Get There Share Of The American Dream Like My Father Did" will not be out immediately after the election as expected.  The publishing house appears to be making some vague and nonsensical complaints about title problems.)

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