I haven't had much to say about politics for a while now, perhaps operating under the theory that everyone and his dyslexic uncle have been weighing in nonstop for the past year on the never-ending presidential campaign and - occasionally - its attendant issues. Therefore, I reasoned, it would be unlikely that I'd have anything to offer that hadn't already been rehashed to death.
But listening to motormouth Adriana Huffington being interviewed on WNYC this morning reminded me that there's always room for one more dingbat in the ring. If she can hype her current wackadoodle lefty gospel with the same blithe certitude she once backed her wackadoodle Republican husband's senatorial campaign, why on earth should I bother holding back?
It wasn't just that, though; it's also a growing sense of exasperation as the three presidential candidates, all of whom I once thought of as adequate, at least to the extent that they'd represent an improvement over the present state of affairs, dwindle in stature as their campaigns devolve into farce and ignominy.
Although he still looks the most presidential of the contending trio, Obama is proving to be the biggest disappointment: despite having had the nation's highest office virtually presented to him on a silver platter some months ago, he has managed to fumble away his substantial advantage through a combination of Hamlet-like dithering and the relentless unraveling of his once-Olympian image courtesy of the race-baiting Rev. Wright.
Speaking of relentless, Hillary Clinton has shown all the tenacity if little of the charm of a pit bull in her pursuit of the front runner who, until recent events, looked to have left her in the dust. Now, if I were a betting man, I'd be slightly more inclined to put my money on her than Obama, who even if he manages to shake off the latest Rev. Wright fallout (and somehow contrives a way to shut the meddlesome preacher up for good), may have been terminally damaged by his inability to win primaries in the big and reliably Democratic states.
And McCain? Well, perhaps he's capable of looking presidential by today's greatly diminished standards, but while there's a fair chance he could beat either Obama or Clinton (neither of which looked likely a couple months back), he seems a bit of a dullard when it comes to anything more complex or demanding than threatening to rain down vengeance on America's foes (not to imply that this isn't part of the job description, but in light of the, shall we say, much more variegated problems facing us, one would hope for a president with more arrows in his quiver than the garden variety military one).
Perhaps I'm being unduly negative? After all, we've survived mediocre and just plain awful presidents before, and it's also possible that someone who looks substandard at first blush can rise to the occasion once in office. But the recent level of discourse - if that's not too grandiose a word to apply to what looks more like straight-up pandering - does not fill one with hope.
Last week's proposal, endorsed by both Clinton and McCain, to tackle our current economic difficulties by, among other things, suspending the federal gas tax this summer, was the final straw. We, both as a nation and as individuals have overspent ourselves into near penury, simultaneously squandering a million years worth of fossil fuels in little more than a century while befouling the entire planet to boot, and the solution being proposed is to go even deeper in debt so that people can have another three months of wasting gas as though there were no tomorrow?
As one astute observer pointed out, it's like having a loved one who's addicted to heroin, and instead of pointing him to the nearest rehab, you "help" him by arranging for him to get a discount at the local drug dealer. Contrary to appearances, the price of gas is not going up; it's the value of your dollars that are going down, and what's driving them down is eight years of insane deficit spending and tax cuts while simultaneously trying to conduct one of the most expensive wars in history.
Any reasonably competent politician knows that we've been running the economy on credit cards for years now, juggling balances between accounts and hoping against hope that all our creditors won't show up on the same day, and any reasonably honest politician would unhesitatingly say so, followed by some tough, realistic talk about how we as a people need to pull our horns in for a while, make some sacrifices, and start paying down our massive debt.
But am I hearing any of this from the three would-be presidents? No, I'm seeing them falling all over themselves and each other in their haste to promise still more tax cuts and government giveaways and unsecured deficit spending. In other words, still more of what got us into the potentially disastrous state we're already in.