Election 2008: An alternative to the pathetic passel of presidential candidates?

November 01, 2007 by barbara

barbara writes (finally)

I had a great idea this morning. I think I might offer myself as Stephen Colbert’s running mate. I know, I know. Why sell myself short? The thing is, I just don’t have time to do a presidential run right now. My platform will be refreshingly simple. Popcorn for breakfast. Plus, I need a salary and benefits and free housing once Cheney is ferreted out of the place. Ewww. Okay, that’s a deal breaker. Never mind.

In case you didn’t know, Stephen Colbert is planning to run for president in both Republican and Democratic primaries in his native state of South Carolina. This is no small commitment. The filing fee on the Democratic ticket is $2,500. On the Republican side, it’s $35,000. (No typo.) Apparently you cannot be a Republican candidate unless you have sufficient funds to buy your way in. Be that as it may, Colbert told Tim Russert, "I don't want to be president. I want to run for president. There's a difference."

Faux News covered Colbert’s candidacy in its entertainment section. I hate that this tool of the Republicans diminishes this man’s deeply-felt desire to serve that way. Faux quotes Colbert thusly: "After nearly 15 minutes of soul-searching, I have heard the call.” >>Read some more – it’s good for you.

Apparently Colbert’s candidacy is generating some controversy. Why am I not surprised? The South Carolina Republican party chair snarked on Colbert, but concedes he might succeed at running in each party’s South Carolina primary. The punditariat is divided about the appropriateness of his run. Yes, they are actively debating this. (sigh) Here’s a snippet from The Gawker:

Now, we don't want to sound all imperious and shit, and we get the idea, add a little levity to the race, distract the cranky reporters, take everyone down a peg or two. It's good clean fun. But there's a $46 billion war on, we hear. And wildfires! Drought! ...We hope [Colbert's] not still making the Sunday morning rounds come primary time. We like our candidates boring, bland, solemn -- and, you know, a smidge electable, because they'll be the ones in charge of killing foreigners and stuff.

Okay, that wasn’t exactly a scorching indictment. But it seems to call into question Colbert’s assault on same old, same old. I love him for that!

Did you know that in one week’s time, Colbert amassed one million (!) supportive fans on Facebook, against Barack Obama’s 400,000 over the past nine months. Is that traction or what? There’s a school of thought that this reflects disgust of young Americans with the whole pathetic election 2008 madness that’s been unfolding for eons. Editor & Publisher suggests that at the rate Colbert is garnering support, he should be the front-runner in the South Carolina primary by the end of November. Tongue in cheek assessment. Maybe.

There’s a big brouhaha about Colbert’s run with respect to election laws. Guess who started that. His network (Comedy Central) has been besieged with inquiries, admonitions and dire warnings. All of which only helps to underscore the whole point of Colbert’s run. We are a nation of laws. We are also a nation of unparalleled weirdness sometimes.

So why is Colbert running? For starters, he's pimping his new book (which I just bought), I Am America (And So Can You!) Hey, everbody's writing. Think just about every presidential wannabe and one egocentric extreme right-wing Supreme Court justice.

But Colbert’s ultimate goal, it seems to me, is to mock America’s electoral process. And seldom if ever has there been a process more worthy of mockiness. Everything – make that EVERYTHING – about our election process is borderline (?) insane.

For starters, there’s the annoying and spendy matter of the campaign cycle’s length. Can you say “interminable”? Then the disturbing matter of incumbents devoting more time to stumping for office than to the things they were elected to do. Next, the scary matter of immense amounts of money garnered and spent to buy political office. Dueling primaries. The electoral college. Add to that candidates who waffle more often than IHOP, saying whatever it takes to curry favor du jour. Candidates who savage the opposition party and each other. Sound and fury, signifying ... sound and fury, I guess. And ultimately, voting results in the land of the free and home of the brave that are hacked, sliced, diced and toasted.

It’s one helluva mess out there. We have a passel of generally mediocre candidates competing in a circus-like environment. What kind of bizarro system have we allowed to emerge? It’s a parody of itself.

Those are some of the issues Colbert’s run is highlighting, I think. He’s showcasing America’s comedy of the absurd. That being so, I believe he’s a candidate for commendiness. Just sayin’.

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perhansa (not verified) | November 1, 2007 - 12:07pm

Not only is it insane, it's all entertainment, propaganda, manipulation and exhibitionism.

It's not a campaign it's a long-running political "reality show": Survivor VI--The Campaign. Brought to you by your favorite (and not so favorite) propagandists, lawyers, hacks, peddlars, lobbyists, campaign financiers, theocrats, CEO's, pollsters, "news" spinners, etc. What passes for The Debates is more mindful of Monty Python than political or intellectual discourse. I think we should lock all the candidates of each party in a small house for six months and televise their every move and every moment together and then vote off the ones we don't like until there is one left in each house and they get one week in November prior to the election to explain their behavior over those six months to us (and why we should trust them as President given what we've seen) and then we decide who we "like" best.

It's all faux anyway. At least Colbert can occasionally make us laugh. If it weren't for that we'd be crying all the time.