Jewish World Review June 22, 2012/ 2 Tamuz, 5772
The 'meh'-ing of the president
By Roger Simon
Nowhere. The New York Times Magazine made it official Sunday on its “Meh List,” which each week catalogs those aspects of American life that are unspeakably boring.
And there it was at No. 3: “The election so far.”
The obligation of U.S. politics to be entertaining is an old one, going back to the very founding of our nation.
The original draft of Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution began:
“George Washington and a duck walk into a bar.
“The bartender says, ‘Where’d you get the pig?’
“Washington says, ‘That’s not a pig, that’s a duck.’
“The bartender says, ‘I was talking to the duck.’”
The Federalist Papers No. 6 noted that, “Upon hearing the joke, Gen. Washington did laugh so heartily that he broke a wooden tooth.”
In the final draft, the jest was struck to prevent further dental loss.
But the need for presidential entertainment continued from the famous, “Aside from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play” to the 2004 drollery:
Q. If George W. Bush and John Kerry were on a sinking ship, who would be saved?
But where is the amusement of yesteryear? Where is the exhilaration? Shall we settle for dreary facts and tedious explanations of serious issues?
Bill Keller, former executive editor of The New York Times, wrote in January that it was time to take “seriously” the notion of dumping Joe Biden and replacing him with Hillary Clinton because “she would bring to this year’s campaign a missing warmth and some of the voltage that has dissipated as Obama moved from campaigning to governing.”
Personally, I do not recall that Hillary Clinton’s selling points in her 2008 bid for the Democratic presidential nomination were “warmth” and “voltage.”
I remember her presenting herself as the candidate of “competence” and “experience,” the person who could calmly answer the 3 a.m. phone call and say: “No, hold off on launching the nuclear missiles; it’s probably just a flock of birds.”
But Keller doubtless knows her better than I, and there is no argument that the current campaign could use some voltage or amperage and or even just a tickle.
Joe Biden, however, may not be willing to leave the ticket. There was this fascinating exchange on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on May 6. This is from the actual transcript:
DAVID GREGORY: Should I assume … that you’re a lock for the ticket here? No question about it?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: There is no question about it. There’s no way out. I mean, they’ve already printed Obama-Biden.
DAVID GREGORY: Has it annoyed you that there’s been all of this buzz about, “Well, if the president would put in Secretary Clinton, you know, he’d be a shoo-in for reelection, if he would just make that switch”?
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: The thing that annoys me about it is the implication of that somehow President Clinton is weak and he needs some kind of help. I mean —
DAVID GREGORY: President Obama.
VICE PRESIDENT BIDEN: President Obama.
Was that a Freudian slip? Is Biden thinking about a Clinton-Biden ticket? No. But how about a Biden-Clinton ticket? He might go for that. And, when you think about it, why would the Democrats want Biden off the ticket?
Biden is a funny and entertaining guy. When Biden went to China last year and met with Chinese Vice President Xi Jinping, the first thing Biden said was: “If I had hair like yours, I’d be president!” (This was not met with uproarious laughter by Xi, perhaps because the Chinese translation may have been something like, “You have hair like a panda.”)
Delegates to the Democratic National Convention may be technically “committed” to Obama, but they are free to vote for whomever they wish once they get to the convention floor in Charlotte, N.C.
All sorts of tickets are possible if the party is looking for sheer, attention-getting bounce:
1. Hillary Clinton-Bill Clinton: Hillary for president and Bill for vice president. Don’t tell me the Constitution forbids Bill being vice president because he has served two terms as president. The 12th and 22nd Amendments are in conflict over this. The Supreme Court would have to decide the matter, and the justices would probably pick Rick Santorum. Bad for the country, but tons of fun.
3. Barack Obama-Michelle Obama: According to Gallup, he has a popularity rating of 52 percent, and she has a popularity rating of 66 percent. Add them together and that’s 118 percent popularity. Talk about a can’t-miss ticket!
2. John Edwards-Roger Clemens: They know how to win. They know how to game the system. They are survivors. Slogan “You think we’re liars? Takes one to know one.”
These tickets do have flaws, I admit. They lack one great thing. They lack meh.
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