Politics Inc. Or The Dilution Of Dignity, Decorum
It caught my attention. The ad said dinner with Barack. It's part of a gimmick the Obama-Biden campaign is doing for three people to register to have dinner with the most powerful man in the free world.
It was bad enough when the president went on 'The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and they broke for commercials. Let's be clear. This is not about who the president is, it is about who the president is, and should be.
Have we lost all sense of dignity, decorum and the modicum of what our leaders should represent?
Again, I would be just as repulsed if this were Ronald Reagan or Abraham Lincoln. The stated value of winning the prize for one person is $4,800. You will need to pay tax on that. It probably just covers airfare, hotel rooms and the mint they put on the pillow because ethics dictates everything should be accounted for down to the last thread of the Egyptian cotton sheets on the bed.
If there was ever an oxymoron it must be political ethics. For all the voices (including the media) proclaiming the need for high ethical standards from our leaders it seems to come to a halt once they get elected. Few exceptions exist but you can find one or two if you search diligently.
Back to dinner with the president. There was once a game show called "The Dating Game." This contest would be much more interesting had it been handled like that game. A description would be given to the contestants of the person with whom they would spend their evening. It would go something like this:
A native of Hawaii, he ultimately landed in Chicago and ran with the city's elite bosses of politics and industry. Once he assumed his current position with his new company, he travels the world with an entourage of advisers and is probably the most connected man in America if not the world.
He is tall and handsome and can be charming although his Ivy League education sometimes inhibits his desire to be authentic.
He has been known to fight the habit of smoking but seems to hide it well from his staff and family. He has a fancy office with a desk made from the remnants of a British warship. The office is roundish.
Your mystery date's dream is to live in the same place for eight consecutive years before enjoying a retirement complete with at least one book deal and a rich palate of speaking engagements.
Have you guessed who he is yet? If you guessed the prince of England, you are incorrect! Nor is he a Saudi prince.
It is the one, the only POTUS. That's right, the President of The United States of America.
Yes, the office has been adequately cheapened to include participating in this program. In addition, if you are wealthy, in addition to being lucky, you could cut a deal to donate at your dream date an adequate contribution to fund his political action committee to spend another dream night in the Lincoln bedroom of the White House. That's right; we're not just pimping out people and positions, but national landmarks as well.
Don't have enough to make a contribution? Don't worry. No purchase necessary. Your dream date will consist of a photo opportunity with 24 minutes to order, make approved small talk on any subject not involving race, rumor or religion and be escorted out the door with the greatest of speed so the sound bites can be reviewed and a damage-control assessment may be made of any errant conversation or anything that could end up on "Saturday Night Live" in one of those "Fun With Real Audio" cartoons where they use actual audio strung together from famous people to say really funny things.
You also could enter to "grab a bite with Mitt" and his wife Ann Romney. This entire scenario is so absurd it adds to the already unbearable process of choosing our next leader. How would you like to try to make small talk with Mitt Romney? You won't want to make the mistake of asking about his dog Seamus. Even if his team threw in extra lobster with the meal, the whole thing sounds excruciating to me.
Running for the highest office in the land has now experienced a similar dumbing down as many other aspects of the society touched by high political office.
Wouldn't we rather hope these people might just sit down with their spouse and eat a meal together without making a media event of it? Or have a meal with their children or extended families and be the kind of role models we would like to see occupy the Oval Office.
Better yet, maybe we could televise a meal enjoyed by the Romneys and Obamas featuring a menu most American families might have. Hamburger Helper and franks and beans comes to mind with popsicles for desert. They might have to be hospitalized.
The only thing our presidents have spared us from at this point is a reality TV series starring themselves. I can just see Laura Bush fussing at George W. for snickering inappropriately at a comment Queen Elizabeth intended to be serious. It would probably be called "Keepin' Up With The Bushes."
"Bill And Hillary Take New York" would refer back to shocking video from the Secret Service basement tapes, such as the one with an agent and his shocked facial expression having discovered the Clintons asleep in the same bed.
The situations would be almost just like real life, with Secret Service on the side.
We need to elect a president soon before these guys downgrade the office to junior executive assistant trainee apprentice and abandon what little dignity, if any, remains with the office.