Tuesday, May 17, 2011

The Clowns on the Bus

We are used to seeing clowns, lots and lots of clowns, bursting from a small car at a circus, or if you are like me and have never or hardly ever been to a circus, movies about the circus, but in this political season, there are so many clowns, we need at least a bus, and maybe even one of those double deckers.  There are clowns running for president, clowns coyly hinting at a run, clowns who had hinted and then declared a non run, clowns who haven’t said anything but others have said that maybe they will run, and clowns who have said they won’t run but others have said maybe they should. And who are these others? More clowns, though they call themselves political journalists and pundits. And who is the audience for these clowns? The professional political operatives, who are also the sources for the journalist clowns.

Here’s the deal: running for president isn’t a political act. It is a business model. Political operatives, who make their living doing this (and a pretty nice living at that) troll for candidates, and pump up certain possibles to media clowns, who report breathlessly and endlessly about the polling strength of Donald Trump, or the sensible centrism of Mitch Daniels, trying to lure them into the race. Once in, the candidate becomes the figurehead of a medium sized multi-million dollar business which employs hundreds to raise money, buy advertising, write speeches and books, organize events and most of all, pays the handlers sizable sums, including, typically percentages of all ad buys. The purported candidate enjoys pseudo-celebrity as well as the ability to award plum jobs to family and friends. After the pseudo campaign, the pseudo candidate as well as family and allies can leverage themselves onto lucrative television gigs as pundits and sell ghost written psuedo books. The Buchanan family, Pat, sister Bay, and assorted relatives deployed this business model to their advantage starting in the ‘90’s. Palin is trying this out now, using reality TV as well as pundit TV as an income stream.

So here we are looking at the bus load of clowns---candidate clowns, media clowns, politico- clowns.

Maybe when you were a kid, you were afraid of clowns. Lots of kids are. And your parents told you not to be afraid, that clowns are harmless, that they are here to entertain us. True, circus clowns are trying to make a living, but they are doing so by performing entertaining stunts and tricks so entrancing that even leery children forget themselves and laugh. Nothing wrong with making a living by getting children to laugh.

But what about the political clowns? Are they just trying to make a living by entertaining us? Did Donald Trump and his bus load of handlers and pundits entertain us when they made us laugh? Does Mitt Romney? Sarah Palin? Mitch Daniels?

They are not scary. But they are not funny.

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