For some time now, "Meet the Press" has been a landmark event of my Sunday mornings; I have looked forward every week to my hour spent with Tim Russert relentlessly grilling somebody politically savvy and important, followed by those lively round table discussions with all manner of media journalists and pundits. Two Sunday mornings ago, when I turned on the TV at two minutes to nine, I heard Russert say, "See you next week at the regular time." The program had already aired, unbeknownst to me, an hour early, and I had just missed it. (The bump was in order to make way for the French open tennis championship finale). "See you next week at the regular time" was what I heard him say, but then it didn't happen. Tim Russert died suddenly last Friday from a lethal heart attack at age 58.
When it comes to media skills in the political arena, this was definitely the man of the hour, a talk show with with an incomparable edge, moderated by someone who, now that we have to think about it, is quite simply irreplaceable. The multiple litanies of tribute that continue to follow upon his death have been as passionate and adoring as if it were the Pope who died--only more so. Russert has been gorgeously remembered and will be sorely missed by his many colleagues and fans, including me.
Everybody who is anybody (which includes George Bush, Barack Obama, and John McCain) have paid their two minutes of heartfelt tribute on NBC. I couldn't help but notice how McCain seemed quite personable when he talked about Tim, in what must actually be his normal way of speaking. Usually when I hear him campaigning, I want to bolt out of the room; I can't bear his condescending, singsong way of addressing an audience as if they were fifth-graders needing to be pacified. I cringe every time he says "my friends." But I am not the only one who feels this way, attested to by the following not-quite-literate and rather crude response to McCain from a random blogger:
"During McCain's speech this morning he said more MY FRIENDS that I was about to puke.... Please take this guy away from TV.....Arms flailing and bottom yellow teeth gritting and the snow white face scaring children."
I am horrified to learn that McCain graduated fifth from the bottom of his class, that is, 894th in a class of 899. Haven't we had enough of cretinous presidents and stupid men masquerading as tough guys? I am embarrassed to learn that McCain has never used a computer. In the raw world of today's internet age, someone who has shown that degree of incuriosity and played hooky throughout such a vital, emerging aspect of our culture, is simply not qualified, in my humble opinion, for the highest-ranking office of our country. It does not stop there, however. As the self-designated braggart of "straight-talk," McCain has flip-flopped on nearly every issue (two examples being torture and immigration) until nobody really knows where he stands on anything. Except, of course, the "surge."
So, I did my thing and consulted the Thesaurus. What more, if anything, should be added to this portrait of John McCain? I asked. The answer came back: "malcontent, grumbler, grouch, someone with a chip on his shoulder; dissident, noncooperative, obstructive; spleenful, peevish, testy, petulant, fault-finding, hard to please; nauseating, sickening, tedious, upsetting, get one down; make trouble." That was enough to spook me even more. I now know too much, and it is every bit as bad as I thought. I won't promise, however, like Susan Sarandon, to move to Italy or Canada if McCain gets elected, but it's not because I wouldn't want to.
Yet a leader I just read in The Economist claims that, despite their respective flaws, we have two good candidates who offer "the most impressive choice America has had for a long time." Sorry kids, you got it wrong. There is only one choice, as far as I am concerned, and it has to be for the candidate who understands that ambitions of empire and being top dog through world domination are dangerous games to play. I will vote for the only candidate who understands, admits to, and will seek to rectify, the reversals of fortune America has undergone in pursuit of these creepy goals--the only candidate who will not be promoting more of the same while everything else rots in real time.
"The Republicans have a problem," writes Lincoln Mitchell on the HuffPost today. "America is not ready for another white male president." Now that's a proposition I can agree with, hands down, no questions asked.