I can't imagine anything more painful than the process of running for president, though watching it for this long - even when you started it with genuine enthusiasm for one of the candidates - is starting to come close.
I had to watch the debate last night to write a web update for The St. Louis American website, since our web editor, Kenya Vaughn, was covering a fashion show that included a line designed by a talented local designer who died in the streets recently.
I'm sure we're all familiar with the argument that you should vote for the person you are most willing to listen to for the next four years. In this election, I'll substitute the standard of which person you are willing to watch for the next four years. I greatly respect my elders, and I do recognize that airplane crashes and being tortured by the enemy must degrade your joints at a very rapid rate, but can anyone bear to watch John McCain walk around on those stiff legs and gesture with those stiff little arms for four more years?
And how about that focus group in Nashville last night? It seems like McCain's campaign could have objected over a rules violation - they were supposed to be undecided voters, and there were black people in there! I spend most of my waking hours in the company of black folks, and I have not met one who is undecided.
Yesterday, my wife did learn with a shock that one of our friends back in New York, a Togolose man who is now a U.S. citizen, is planning to vote for McCain because he fell for the Sarah Palin spunk. I have been delegated to convince him otherwise. He'll be hearing a lot from me before he changes his mind. My argument will be simple. In a way, I also admire the Palin spunk. I'll admit I find her highly attractive physically and that always influences my judgment of women, whether I like it or not. However, those moved to vote for her because of her spunk and sex appeal should simply move to Alaska! Leave us out of it.
One thing I notice about these debates is partisans always complain that the other candidate didn't answer the questions. That is silly. I am highly partisan, but let's be honest: neither candidate ever answers the questions. The reason why is simply and perhaps defensible. They are not taking a test to see who is more qualified for the job - they are competing in a popularity contest. When faced with a tough question, they get no points that count for answering it honestly. What they do is lose points for giving an honest answer that alienates or disappoints some demographic, as almost any honest answer to a tough question will.
I spoke with Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce for a little more than an hour last week, to catch up with her and to get her take on the towing scandal. We discussed the subject of political enemies, very vaguely, since we don't have the same friends. She said something very smart: "If nobody is mad at you, then you are lying to somebody." That's why they never answer the questions - they can't afford to make anyone made at them.
That said, I will say McCain gave the most stupid answer of the night, and no one will believe me when I say that's not because I want the other guy to win. He was asked how to fix Social Security. Now, that's a tough question, and I believe an honest answer would make a lot of people - maybe everyone older than 50 - mad. McCain led by saying fixing Social Security would be "easy," which is simply not true, and therefore a stupid answer. Then he went on to elaborate on his "easy" fix, which consisted of ... pulling together a committee of "the smartest people in America" and asking them the same question.
If everything were that easy, we could all be president. Even (gulp) Sarah Palin. But it ain't that easy - and it's getting to be almost as hard to watch it for this long.
I know, my sketch of Obama looks like a black Howdy Doody, and my McCain like a jowly Stephen Stills.