Tuesday, September 16, 2008

An Important Election

"Dad, can you buy a box of cupcakes for me to bring to school?"

"Well, I suppose I can Bill, but why do you need to bring cupcakes to school?"

"I am running for class president, and I want to give them out."

Ahhh, wonderful instincts, give the people what they want. The difference between the goodies promised in a 3rd grade election and those promised in a national election is that the 3rd graders deliver them up-front. Unless, of course, ethics reform has reached right down into the 3rd grade. Which it has. The parental consent form informs parents that the candidate is not permitted to distribute candy to kids in or out of the classroom. I am guessing this was to stop business as usual in 3rd grade government; or perhaps it was to keep these kids from bouncing off the walls in election season. I suspect that this was the first foray into effective regulation, which is never full-proof, as people with incentives to influence elections will find a way. But the second sentence reveals the likely second round of regulation: members of the PTA and staff members are not permitted to hand out candy on behalf of any given candidate. It is not surprising to me that you have to restrain certain overzealous PTA moms and dads, but members of staff? How can a 3rd grader have the school janitor in the bag?

Anyway, the good news is I am not signed up for the PTA, and I am not a member of the staff. There may be other laws against 40 year old men covertly passing out candy to a bunch of third graders during recess, but Bill won't be disqualified on that basis. But beyond that, I think when the law of a third grade election goes beyond the laws of the land, we've got a problem. Senator Obama, in one of his groundbreaking reform legislations, lead the Senate to change certain rules that disallow members of Congress dining with lobbyists, but in that legislation dining requires that you be sitting. So a lobbysit can eat all the candy in the world with a Senator, but both must stop chewing if they momentarily sit down. Now, that is not a real big restriction for 3rd graders - requring that they stand while eating, but still if it is good enough for the guy who is going to feed the poor, take care of the sick, and have the ocean waters recede, it should well be damn good enough for 3rd grade.

In any event, absent the sure cupcake path to victory, it was necessary to work on Bill's rhetorical pitch.

"Bill, you have to distance yourself from the prior administration. Paint a picture of doom and gloom where all natural and unnatural disasters occurring during the second grade are laid at the feet of your predecessor. Success in this campaign requires that you appear more distant from the prior president than the others in the race."

"But dad, won't that be a little difficult since Joe was class president in the 2nd grade."

"Ooh. OK, scrap that. What you need to do is establish your bona fides regarding your stance on the Iraq war. Back in March of 2003, do you remember what your stance was?"

"Dad, I was 3 years old back then, barely in preschool."

"That doesn't really matter; some people were in even more politically insignificant places, like the Illinois state legislature, and it aint hurting them. But I digress. Is there anyone back in your preschool who would have heard you make statements in support of the invasion of Iraq?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Anyone back in preschool who you crossed in some way?"

"No. But dad, even if I was against the war, wouldn't it matter what my rationale was for being against the war? I mean, I could have been one of these freaks living in the trees in Berkely who would have argued against the war because it was clearly going to lead to the loss of more trees."

"No. It doesn't matter at all. Your reasons do not matter. Just assert that you can exercise the right judgment, even if the truth is that your a pacifist against all wars. Just count your lucky stars that things went wrong in the course of things, and public opinion has turned against the war."

"But hasn't the surge been successful?"

"Yes it has, but that is not the point. Pretend that every variable of war that went wrong prior to the surge was something that was clearly predictable, even if you never predicted them, but do the reverse for the surge - if things have gone right, claim no one could have predicted that, and that hindsight is 20/20. Have it both ways - it's not like they will have any follow-up questions pointing out the glaring double standards you apply in your vaunted judgment."

"But dad, do you really think that anybody in the 3rd grade cares that much about my stance on the war?"

"Bill, probably not, but if they can't have a cupcake, it may matter. Ideally you could give them the cupcakes in addition to a stellar record of judgment on the war. Even better, it would be great if the second grade economy turned so far south that no one could afford a cupcake by June of last year. The thing is Bill - bad news is great news for you. It may be too much to ask for a hurricane to hit the school during recess one day, but a tropical storm wouldn't hurt, especially if we could get the National Weather Service to name it after your opponent."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

One has to wonder how an individual who's entire campaign staff is made up of the lobbying groups from K Street intends to effectively regulate their kind.
But, since Douglas Holtz-Eakin can confirm for us that the candidate invented the Blackberry, perhaps he can phone it in when he finally learns how to use the technology.
Aside from the fact that there is no way of know what is going to happen in Iraq when we finally find a way to stop paying the salaries of the "Concerned Local Citizens" (i.e. insurgents) so they stop shooting at us, and how that will enable us to fulfill the candidates pledge of massive victory should he ever decide that it might be time to leave.
Aside from all of those situations, and the fun stuff about parents and PTA, nice post.

9:34 PM  
Anonymous Jim said...

That sounds about right for politics in this day and age. Facts don't matter. Even spin doesn't matter. But Bill forgot one very important thing - he needs to get the 3rd grade media (i.e., the gossip chain) repeating every fake scandal he can come up with. Booger-eater is a good one. Bed-wetter is even better.

Get them to understand that the more people who listen to them, even if those people are arguing, the more popular they are. And then get them to understand that the really juicy stories come from Bill's side. When they know what side their bread is buttered on, they will do his campaigning for him. And he can coast into the slot, secure in the knowledge that he is the best person for the job.

After all, he wouldn't have won if he wasn't, right?

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can anyone secure a list of the McCain campaign staff and their CVs?

I think what there is "no way to know" is what the other candidate has actually DONE.

3:51 PM  

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