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diaryland: sirilyan.diaryland.com: entry for 2001-09-11 (02:32:00)
In which our plucky young hero defeats Truman.

I think I'd really like to go into politics.

Not the whole running-for-office thing, mind you. Running for office seems to involve spending a whole lot of money and going out and shaking hands with all sorts of disreputable people, to whom you need to say unpleasant and untrue things like "I agree that we need more funding for senior citizen hockey leagues" or "good heavens, I'd sooner die than spend the snow removal budget on heroin". From all I can see running for office is something no sane person would do for any reason whatsoever.

Actually being in office, though, looks like it would be an utter blast. There are so many roads to fun when you are in politics that I can barely enumerate them all.

Most appealing, of course, is being Crazy Truthful Guy. Jimmy Stewart basically made a whole career out of being Crazy Truthful Guy, especially in that movie where he needed to stop filibustering in the Senate to save his brother from drowning in an ice rink. John McCain (who has always reminded me of a slightly insane Tom Snyder) also chose to be Crazy Truthful Guy, even if most of the Crazy Truths he had to utter involved unfortunate new names for Vietnamese people. Advantages: You are truthful. Everyone will believe you, because you are a "maverick" who will not let the "party establishment" tell you what to do. Disadvantages: You are crazy. It will become very easy for labels like "kill-crazy Vietnam dude" or "can't even manage a simple S&L" to stick to you like glue.

Then there's Crazy Truthful Guy's dear friendly cousin, Aw Shucky Populist Man. In Canada, of course, the West is always where Aw Shucky Populist Man comes from, because there isn't much else to do in the west besides follow cultlike leaders and count your oil money. And there's no oil money outside Alberta. The West is famous for producing Aw Shucky Populist Man in both left-wing (Tommy Douglas) and right-wing (Preston Manning) varieties. Shucky, as he's known to his friends, is not very crazy, but may be a little crazy if he wants. Advantages: You get all the fun of being put down by "the establishment" without needing to be crazy. You may found a political party that will last for maybe as long as six months before imploding in a violent internal struggle between barely distinguishable factions. Disadvantages: Whether or not you are any crazy at all, you still get called lots and lots crazy anyway.

And who can forget Sound Biter? Let's face it, nobody remembers anything about Lloyd Bentsen, not even his name or his position in the administration of whatever administration he served in. (I'm pretty sure he was Exchequer of the Navy under Nixon, or perhaps he was Jefferson's Surgeon General.) But everyone remembers his famous quote, "I worked with Jack Kennedy, and you're Dan Quayle, you ignorant slut." Churchill, as far as I can remember from history class, won World War II just on the basis of his sound bites. Advantages: Easy to focus-group your policy platform. Disadvantages: Very awkward when you demand all interviews be no more than 30 seconds in length.

In our high-speed accelerated Internet Web world media age, the sound bite is more important than ever. Voters don't have time for "analysis" or "debate" of subjects as complicated as old age pension privatization, the decline in manufacturing jobs, or whether or not we should feed the country's children to the goat vampires of Dimension Q. We need sound bites to turn these difficult issues, in which both sides have valid points, into easily-digested catch phrases like "don't raid the lockbox" or "whoa, Billy, not in my red wagon!" (As you can tell, I am strongly opposed to the goat vampires. Though I am willing to let their lobbyists convince me otherwise.)

Sound Biter can easily be combined with one of the previous two styles, or if you wish, you can try to be Sound Biter, Aw Shucky Populist Man, and Crazy Truthful Guy simultaneously. This is known as "pulling a Perot", according to this pie chart which indicates that because of NAFTA's tendency toward moving manufacturing jobs to Mexican maquiladoras, the Republicans are going to kidnap my daughter and feed her ketamine and oregano until she thinks she is a horse.

So far, of course, I've dealt with nothing but honesty, even if it is of the somewhat crazy variety and only happens in five-second bursts. But what if you decide honesty is overrated? Well, my friend, in that case you get the bling bling, as I am told we now say what used to be called "making bank". Corrupt politicians get to do all sorts of crazy things, some of them involving heroin and the snow removal budget. Some corrupt politicians even get laid without needing the charming good looks that marked a Pierre Trudeau or a Lester B. Pearson. Advantages: Mayor Quimby becomes more than just a comic figure. He is now your mentor. Chowdah on, chowdah off. Disadvantages: None I can see, thanks to media consolidation. (Note: Only true if you happen to be a friend of Izzy Asper.)

So remember, folks, when I come to your door with my little campaign flyer and extravagant promises regarding snow removal (wink wink), vote for me. I can't do any worse than the other guys, and I have some really nifty sound bites lined up.

Just don't ask to shake my hand. That, you know, that sickens me.

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