OFF THE CUFF

Aren’t presidential election years a blast?

Honestly, when else can you enjoy virtual stand-up comedy on the major TV networks’ evening news programs? Man, it’s only February and some of the stuff some of the candidates have said is already so over-the-top that I can’t imagine how they’ll top it as the months progress toward November.

Oh, but you know they will.

And speaking of candidates, is there anyone who really knows who all is running? I mean the “real” candidates with the major parties, not the guy from the Corner Pub Party who wants to guarantee free beer to all Americans, or the woman from the Pampered Pooch Party who want all dogs to be assured free healthcare and pig ears.

For real, though, there are so many people running, I’ve kind of lost track of who’s in and who’s out. And you have one or two who are labeled front-runners but haven’t even participated in one of the ridiculous debates.

That being the case, what’s the point of the debates, anyway? I guess it’s just to allow the men and women who want to run our country an opportunity to see who can produce the cleverest spur-of-the-moment one-liner or who can deliver the least overtly hurtful – but nonetheless obvious – insult.

I love it, I really do. It’s unabashed, cutthroat competition disguised as thoughtful, courteous and diplomatic banter. It’s fourth-grade level arguing in a presumably globally-influential setting.

Jeez, when I think of some of the drivel that has already come out of the mouths of some of these presidential wannabes, I can’t help but marvel at the unrestricted stupidity.

I mean, can you even come close to fathoming what it’s like to look straight at an actual supporter and call them a “lying, dog-faced pony soldier?” Wow, that’s so creatively insane I can’t even come up with anything to add, but a candidate did it.

Can you even for an instant relate to saying into a microphone connected to a national audience and telling everyone that college is going to be free? Hey, I have an idea: Why don’t we take the many gazillions of dollars it would take to make something like that come true and throw it at something a bit less outlandish – like reestablishing the U.S. as a manufacturing power?

I know, I know – that just sounds so much less exciting. And when it comes to campaigning, why let logic and reality get in the way of a good emotional high?

I also like how candidates often refer to each other as “my friend so-and-so” and then take a back-handed swipe at the chum they just spoke of. It’s like you can’t just say what you mean without first throwing down a layer of sugar coating.

Come on, guys and gals; to borrow a quote from a pretty funny current commercial series, we Americans “know a thing or two because we’ve seen a thing or two.” We can handle knowing you aren’t all members of a political friendship club and you don’t actually have the high level of respect for each other that you pretend to have.

I guess what I’m getting at is that presidential campaigns are no longer about real issues and things that affect American people, but have instead become sort of a circus sideshow featuring all sorts of amazing and unbelievable characters trying to gain the most oohs and aahs from the crowd.

Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like it that way. That’s what makes it all such a blast.

Staff writer

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Doug Davison is a writer, photographer and newsroom assistant for the Houston Herald. Email him at ddavison@houstonherald.com.

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