Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Civics Lessons: The Democratic Circus

Talking Heads: The Democratic Circus


It is an unfortunate fact of American life that our presidential campaigns tend to be about everything except who is the best person to be president. It does not make any difference that Barack Obama has worked with William Ayres on some worthwhile education initiatives in Chicago; it is terribly important that Ayres did some terrible things when Obama was ten. The fact that Sarah Palin has a fifteen-month old child with Down’s Syndrome gets for a much wider airing than the fact the that Alaska legislature has found her guilty of violating the state’s ethics laws. And on and on.

Of course, this is not new to this year’s campaign. George W. Bush was put in office by an electorate that thought they would rather go to a barbecue with him than with Al Gore. The results of that one speak for themselves.

This kind of campaign by distraction has gone at least since the first presidential election I voted in, in 1980. In 1988, Talking Heads found an eloquent metaphor to describe the situation. The song is as relevant now as it was then.

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