I have a secret: I gave up the news about a year and a half ago. The “news” and “news media” have been long taking a drastic turn toward the bizarre, the negative, and the untrue. My life is already fairly bizarre, and if I look hard enough, I’m sure I can find some negativity and falsehoods in there, too.
The Internet and cable TV bring it all in front of our faces within seconds of events. We have failed, self-destructive pop stars, wayward celebrity personalities and drugged ex-Guess models and actors headlining alongside wars and acts of God. (Speaking of acts of God and other forms of weather, where else can one find a job where you can be wrong more than 50% of the time and still be employed?) There came a time when finally I had to decide that I don’t need a continuous stream of instantaneous crap filling up my head. So I took a sabbatical from “news,” gathering my information from weekend newspapers and books. If I needed a weather report, I just stuck my head out of the window.
My abandonment of the news media doesn’t mean I’m living under some rock in the thick of the backwoods. I’m watching my state with an eagle eye, mainly because I think we’re going to go down in flames. I know what’s going on in the world, including the upcoming presidential election. I’m an avowed independent, so I like looking at everyone with the same jaundiced and cynical eye.
Now that "we’ve" narrowed the presidential field down to just three candidates, I decided this weekend to check in with the news. After a day of listening to this pundit or that one over-analyzing each candidate, I’m ready to go back into my cave. I’ve been sufficiently politically overdosed for the rest of the campaign.
Let’s see… We have Barack’s people calling Hillary a monster. We have Hillary being just as evasive and secretive as she was back in the 1990s. We have John McCain flip-flopping and otherwise fading into the background.
Don’t get me wrong. I think there are some good characteristics in each one. That being said, I think Obama, Clinton and McCain would each make a decent president. In fact, I think all of them would make the same president. This is because no matter if you’re a Democrat or a Republican or the Man on the Moon, my belief is that once you are in office, the power will ascend into your head and you’ll fall prey to those who pander to your every whim. In addition, being President doesn’t mean you’ll get everything you want, including all those things you promised the poor working stiffs when you were running for office. You may get some things, but you won’t get everything. If you could get it all, you'd be called something other than President. How about dictator?
This is the greatest downfall of the current political system. It is one where things are bought and sold. “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours.” Pork barrel attachments to bills in Congress are what’s killing us as a nation. Being a politician means playing a game of treachery. A politician has to be able to speak in carefully constructed circles, so that they take up news space and minutes on TV but don’t actually say anything of substance. You also have to be able to smile just before stabbing someone in the back. (That’s a figurative stabbing, not a literal one.)
Add to that, I don’t see much of a difference between the two Democrats, and John McCain is so liberally Republican, he’s actually close to them. Granted, Obama is a great orator, moving people to fainting and tears. He has generated a buzz around him that appeals to the young with compelling YouTube videos. However, to me, he and Clinton have the same amount of experience. (I’m sorry, but being a spouse of the President is not the same as being the President. Sure they were close, but we didn’t elect her.) Obama has an obvious charismatic value, not seen since Bobby Kennedy or Ronald Regan. Clinton is tenacious and bull-doggish. Some women like that about her. (I do not) McCain appeals to conservatives, especially those treading the middle ground. However, there’s only so much any of them can do once placed into office. Do you think for a minute that if terrorists attacked us again, a Democrat would not do what George Bush did?
Clinton and Obama each come with baggage, that’s apparent. It remains to be seen what dirt they will come up with on McCain. Perhaps the mudslinging will make a difference in the minds of some folks, but I can tell you, it only makes me angry. The news media is supposed to outline the facts, not sensationalize every little oddity of our public servants.
Which leads me to the next question that is burning a hole in my heart: why would any of these people even want the job? Why are they spending millions of dollars to get a job that will gross them around $200,000 a year? Why subject yourself to scrutiny of every deed, of every word you or your cohorts have ever spoken? Is it public service, or something else? Each candidate, I am sure, will unearth some unsavory fact about the other, and the news media will run with it like a lion with a lamb in its teeth. The media has become expert at taking things out of context. Why anyone in his or her right mind would want to be President is beyond me. Sure, whoever wins the prize will be 'Leader of the Free World,' but these days the US is not exactly a best-loved country. Whoever gets the job will be a walking target for kooks from the homeland and abroad. The potential President would have more problems than perks. You couldn’t hand me the job for half of what was spent on the campaigns.
As for the three candidates, the jury is still out. All I know is that I’m turning the news off once again. I’m not sure how I’m going to vote in November. Until then, I’m climbing into my cave with plenty of reading material, in hibernation and hoping for the best.