Monday, March 24, 2008

Puppies and Babies


Dear Political Pundits,

I know we Americans tend to be simpletons. We like our American Idol and we occasionally TiVo King of the Hill. And sometimes, admittedly, we click on the "Britney Misses Court Appearance" link on the CNN homepage before we click on the link regarding "progress" being made on either of our two war fronts. (Okay, I am NOT the only one who has done this because that link is still up there, so 'fess up.) We're not totally dumb, it's just easier sometimes to play dumb. But we are not dim enough to keep swallowing that pablem you've been spoon-feeding us for 7 years now. It's starting to taste lumpy.

On Sunday, as hesitant as I was to turn my political inquiry over to the network that gave us the "boxers v. briefs" debate, I flipped on the MTV Choose or Lose Special. The CNN/Fox/NBC/ABC pundit round-up just wasn't raising the level of debate higher than, well, a 6-year old pulling his sister's ponytail. (And because The Colbert Report is not on on Sunday.)

In a round table discussion, Obama and Clinton were confronted by about ten 20-something Iraq war veterans. There were females who developed PTSD when their Hummer's flipped over in combat, a guy who lost his leg, another guy who, upon his return to his home state of New York, found out in person that his DMV turned him down for a driver's license grant (worth $45) because the woman at the DMV told him "you didn't fight for me, you fought for George Bush." (I can picture this large and sloth-like DMV employee in my mind, and she was just as unsympathetic when I told her I was forwarding my address to an Air Force base in Japan. Socialists, every one of 'em.)

The same guy who was denied a driver's license is also without a home, and currently without a job, as he has taken to self-medication for his PTSD. Alcohol seems to be an insufficient, if immediate, replacement for inadequate veteran benefits. (That phenomenon transcends generations, doesn't it?) 9 of 10 of the kids had been diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.

MTV for all it's bling-alicious faults, is usually good about cutting through race, gender and socioeconomic lines. One young skinny Asian-American kid who looked like he should be kicking someone's ass in a Chemistry exam had been awarded the Purple Heart. An Alex P. Keaton stand-in had joined up out of post-911 patriotism. A college-educated combat nurse couldn't seem to get a job because of the pesky "PTSD" warning label in her repertoire.

Now pundits, here's where you can learn something, so put down that set of talking points jotted down on White House letterhead.

Not a one of these kids asked Obama why he didn't wear a flag pin on his lapel or if he really is a super-secret Muslim. Nor did they ask Hilary if her moistness-of-tear-duct is a sign that we're just not ready for estrogen in the West Wing. They didn't ask Obama why his wife hated America, nor Hilary how she planned to keep Bill from trolling for interns when she's busy answering that ominous 3am call (or where she got those sexy reading glasses). They didn't ask who accepted Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior the VERY MOSTEST. And they didn't compare who's preacher was loonier. (I'm gonna go with the preacher who said that 911 was payback for all the gays in the Village, but John McCain wasn't at this round table.) Not a one of them tackled the enormous weight of these pressing issues, because, well, you guys have have done a bang up job and really, we should leave the weighty stuff for the professionals.

Instead, these 20-somethings grilled Clinton and Obama about the war, the lack of planning, the lack of armor, lack of VA medical benefits, and would not let the candidate's canned answers suffice. When you have a 25 year-old homeless veteran asking you directly how you plan on helping him, it's a lot harder to give a test-grouped answer. At the end, I wasn't even watching the candidates, just the kids. They bought their way out of college debt with ROTC scholarships. They felt compelled by 911 and found themselves fighting a completely unrelated war.

Now, I know you've got corporate sponsors that need to see ratings. Nothing brings home the ratings like seeing a pissed off black preacher (what's he all worked up about?) played over and over and over again until you really get the race war goin'. That's responsible journalism. Nothing sells newspapers like a front page article that insinuates John McCain had an affair with a lobbiest, but never quite says it outright. Man, that's a skillful word dance. A little slight-of-hand trick. David Blaine would be impressed. But don't fear, there are other surefire tactics to improve your ratings. You can eat bugs, or host a dance competition. G-Dub did that little Gene Kelly number and that was a total hit on YouTube. See, he's thinking OUTSIDE the box.

Guess what else is good for ratings? Puppies. Puppies bring excelllllllent ratings. And babies, boy we can't get enough of watching cute babies.

So here's what I'm thinking.... hire some puppies and some babies. Even Dick Chenny will look like an adorable old grandpa if you sit a baby and a puppy in his lap. Then when he's told that two-thirds of the American people do not think that the war in Iraq is worth it, he can reply "So?" and he won't seem like a totally out-of-touch jerk. He will seem endearing, because he is holding a baby and a puppy.

It's really a win-win. We get puppies and babies, you get a ratings bump. And we will never again have to be asked: Is Obama black enough? Is Hillary masculine enough? Was McCain's wife really fabricated in a Mattel factory? (The answers, by the way are "Who Cares," "Who Cares," and...oh go ahead and tackle that last one for us, we know you'll do it justice.)