mercredi 7 mars 2007

Of Politics and Men

For some, diamonds last forever. For me, that is only true of US election campaigns! The test for this is very simple: turn on your TV. CNN is already proudly broadcasting a perpetually recycled feature: America Votes 2008. Weren’t the last elections less than 6 months ago? It’s hard to say exactly what powers this frenzy - legitimate popular interest, fixed election dates, the need for campaign donations or simply the need to fill up air time? After all, even if your anchors are trained to repeat the same thing 20 times, it’s hard to get more than a few weeks’ content on some well-endowed blonde woman’s untimely death...

Aspiring politicians beware: unending campaigning seems matched by everlasting indifference. Some people are interested and dedicated. Others stay informed. Most, well, worry more about their weight than who the next group in Washington, DC or Phoenix will be. Actually, my non-scientific study of American television shows that about as much time is devoted to weight-loss products as to political issues of the day... Since CNN uses the slogan CNN = Politics, I suggest that they start using the equally appropriate CNN = Slimfast.

In the land of the biggest SUVs, malls and hotdogs on earth, only the biggest stories get attention. So, you want to know what the county or state government are doing? Perhaps you will find this buried in a local newspaper (Tucson Citizen, anyone?), but good luck hearing about it on television, even when it’s time for local news - after all, tear-jerking car accidents are much better for ratings. This super-hero syndrome of the media affects what most people see of politics: soldiers dying in Iraq (endless coverage on Fox guaranteed), a White House underling convicted for lying to a federal grand jury and, of course, the sex-scandal-of-the-week.

Fortunately, not all is rotten in the Kingdom of Vote-For-Me. Occasionally, politicians step down from their spin-doctored press conferences for live debates. This was popularized by CNN’s show Crossfire and is now fairly common on many channels. The last debate I saw was John McCain vs. Ted Kennedy - both of which have been around for so long that they are bound to know the issues!

What are the leanings of Arizona, you may ask. In typical American fashion, the state votes for Republican presidents but has a Democrat governor. Contradiction or pragmatism? I’ll let you make up your mind. Also, this state has been shaped by a direct democracy ideal. So, if you have always dreamed of electing an underwear seam inspector, you know where to move!

La politique, c'est comme l'andouillette. Ca doit sentir un peu la merde, mais pas trop.
- Édouard Herriot

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