Wednesday, May 14, 2008

SuperDad or SuperMom For President?

Last night's results from the Democrat primary in West Virginia (and yes I joked about that) gave a huge margin of victory to Senator Clinton over Senator Obama. But I almost spewed the crackers I was munching through my nose when I heard NBC's Tim Russert proclaim none could deny Sen. Clinton's "right" to stay in the race for the Democratic nomination:

"The magnitude of Senator Clinton's victory tonight will allow her tonight and tomorrow, the next day, to say to the Democrats and to say to Senator Obama's campaign: 'Let me finish this race. Let me take on these next five contests. … I have earned that right to continue to be a fighter.'"

It was days ago, after Sen. Obama won in North Carolina, that Russert said she should withdraw from the race immediately. Russert, like many political pundits, has bumbled this election from beginning to end. Of course, there are endless bursts of stupidity trailing the world o' campaigning.

For instance, also last night, noting the loss of another Republican seat in Congress from a special election, failed presidential candidate Mike Huckabee offered this nonsense:

"People ultimately don't buy the brand - they buy the cereal. … So what we've got to be able to do is to show that there are individuals out there that are worth supporting and worth electing. But they can't go out there and ride the elephant down Main Street."

Ah yes, the Cereal and the Elephant ... weren't they in Alice in Wonderland??

Something else I find surreal is the relentless and savage support some people have provided in the last few months for their choices of Super Candidate of All Time -- the daily humorless, shrill blogging for Candidate A or Candidate B, declaring all who oppose them are brutish thugs who expose their sexist or racist or some other -ist genetic code by daring to vote for the Wrong Candidate reveals to me a naivete' of politics.

I also marvel at the often illegal, unethical and incompetent campaign by Page Gardner and her Women's Voices, Women Vote organization which has been misleading voters across the country with bogus fears about being registered to vote. Facing South has been tracking this story with much skill, and also offered an interview with her in which she simply refused to answer questions about her group's often illegal, unethical and incompetent strategies to confuse women voters.

Likewise sad is BlabRadio's Rush Limbaugh, ever more irrelevant, proclaiming himself and his disciples The Deciders of the Campaign by urging his flock to cast votes for Sen. Clinton as part of something he calls Operation Chaos. I guess he rejected the name Operation Pay Attention To Me I'm Important!! He can only rally negativity, and is utterly impotent in rallying votes for the Republican Party he worships.

One wonders why so many Americans perceive the President of the United States should be our very own SuperDad (or SuperMom).

An interesting essay from Gene Healy from the Cato Institute called The Cult of the Presidency offers this:

The chief executive of the United States is no longer a mere constitutional officer charged with faithful execution of the laws. He is a soul nourisher, a hope giver, a living American talisman against hurricanes, terrorism, economic downturns, and spiritual malaise. He—or she—is the one who answers the phone at 3 a.m. to keep our children safe from harm. The modern president is America’s shrink, a social worker, our very own national talk show host. He’s also the Supreme Warlord of the Earth.

"This messianic campaign rhetoric merely reflects what the office has evolved into after decades of public clamoring. The vision of the president as national guardian and spiritual redeemer is so ubiquitous it goes virtually unnoticed. Americans, left, right, and other, think of the “commander in chief” as a superhero, responsible for swooping to the rescue when danger strikes.

"In a 2002 study tracking word usage through two centuries of SOTUs and inaugural addresses, political scientist Elvin T. Lim noted that in the first decades under the Constitution presidents rarely mentioned poverty, and the word help did not even appear until 1859. Nor did early presidents subscribe to the modern notion that it’s all “about the children”; they rarely even mentioned the little buggers. But Lim found that “Presidents Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton made 260 of the 508 references to children in the entire speech database, invoking the government’s responsibility to and concern for children in practically every public policy area.

Perhaps the reason so many Americans haul the President onto the pedestal is so they don't have to take any responsibility for themselves and to also have a handy scapegoat to tar and feather when any and every aspect of American life turns sour.

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