We have traveled a long and winding road from JFK’s “Ask not what your country can do for you” to Governor Romney’s “binders full of women.” This country’s contentious 2012 presidential election is a rewarding time to be a professional comedian in the United States. The recently concluded televised debates illustrate Jay Leno’s remark, “If God had wanted us to vote, he’d have given us candidates.”
After the first debate in Denver, Jon Stewart commented that it appeared as if one candidate had taken an Ambien and the other his first cup of coffee ever. After debate number two at Hofstra, a citizen who is not even a comedian left a post on his Facebook page directed at Governor Romney: “You’re not making much sense, but at least you’re not answering the question.” And we won’t even go near Stephen Colbert. All right, if you insist. After the final debate, Colbert said, “Oh please, Mr. President. Everyone plays by the same set of rules — and at the end of the game the rich flip over the board and yell, ‘I win!'”
At the end of the day, and also every election, Winston Churchill’s words still ring true regardless of the rhetoric reported or manufactured by the media, pundits and pollsters. “It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” There’s another lesser known Churchill quote that speaks directly to the entire political process and those who show up at the polls to participate in it. “The best argument against democracy is a five minute conversation with the average voter.”
Reading that quote reminds me of a recent car ride with a good friend who reported that conversations with women who support Romney make her want to interrogate them sternly about what they know of his views on abortion and gender equality. My friend was ashamed of her apparent intolerance in feeling the urge to scream at these women and she wondered what that makes her. I said it makes her an American.
Distasteful as the political views of others may be, listening to them is too easy a privilege to take for granted in light of recent news reports about the Taliban shooting of a 14-year-old girl for speaking out about women’s rights in Pakistan. Current events here and elsewhere sometimes make me wonder if I’m reading about things happening in this century or medieval times. As outraged as I am inclined to feel when listening to a Republican candidate for the Senate say, “If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down,” (wtf?) I still would not want him shot for saying it.
That said, I don’t quite feel like celebrating his right to free speech. I acknowledge that just as my love for bacon is a celebration of the pig, it’s not much of a celebration on the porker’s end. And even though it would be an appropriate parting shot, I will refrain from a comparison between Representative Todd Akin and the aforementioned barnyard animal. It would be an affront to the pig.
Sneak peek behind the scenes at the second presidential debate