The election year is gearing up, and change is in the air. It's apropos that primaries happen during bowl season and the NFL playoffs. I can spend several hours watching grown men pummel each other on the field, and then switch over to debates and spend several hours watching grown men (and woman) pummel each other with microphones. Reporters are so giddily eager to report that they cannot stand the long wait until November, and so the news networks have been broadcasting election results the moment they hear the first ballot drop.
Wolf Blitzer: "And with two percent of the vote in, it looks like Obama has the clear lead, with Clinton and Edwards battling for second. What an outcome! We'll have analysts on to talk about this following the commercial break. Remember, only two percent of the vote is in, so nothing I say for the next hour means anything at all!"
It's a bit like watching a football game where the ball is invisible, and you don't know the score until after the final whistle. But that's half the fun, watching the political analysts make complete jackasses out of themselves in an effort to fill four hours of coverage. (Which, yes, I end up watching.) The current trend in election coverage, beside the ridiculously early results, is AMAZING TECHNOLOGY!! CNN apparently had the most money to burn on pointless gadgets. It began before Iowa, when Blitzer and some other pundit demonstrated a touch screen where they could drag a button across the screen and deposit it on top of a candidate's face. This made no sense whatsoever, and seemed to serve no purpose other than to cover the candidates' faces with buttons. They never actually used it for the real caucus coverage, but simply showed it a few days before to say, "Hey look what we've got! And we'll use it, too, if we can think of a good reason!"
This wasn't the worst of it. At some point, the news people must have sat down and said, "We have to keep the graphics moving!" MSNBC solved the problem of horrible static graphics by pivoting their bar charts back and forth ever so slightly, just enough to induce a headache, which was not nearly as bad as CNN's decision to mount video screens on pendulums from the ceiling, making them rock back and forth like someone had accidentally hit them, so much so that the camera had to sway to follow them. Seasickness and politics, together at last! In the end, CNN won the prize for "Most Ridiculous Concept" with their Magic Pie Chart, and - I am not kidding, that's what they actually called it. The Magic Pie Chart, which popped up magically from a piece of cardboard held by Anderson Cooper and was as legible as newsprint on a squirrel.
(In this still picture you can actually read it, but imagine it jumping around all over the screen.)
But enough about coverage. Let's talk results!! After Obama handily won the Iowa caucuses, every other candidate, Republican and Democrat alike, tried to make the case that they were most Obama-like. They wanted to out-Obama Obama. His catch word had been "change," and suddenly "change" was the word of the day for all the candidates. Change, change, change... that's what the American people want! Mitt Romney babbled, "I brought change. In Massachusetts, I brought change. I have done it. I have changed things."
And Hillary, in my favorite quote yet, said, "I want to make change, but I've already made change. I will continue to make change. I'm not just running on a promise of change. I'm running on thirty-five years of change."
Yes, change hit the political lexicon like a sack of quarters, but Obama-rama was sweeping the nation, and who could stop him? On Tuesday, so many new voters lined up outside of polling places that New Hampshire was beginning to run out of ballots, breaking records for voter turnouts. Everyone said, that's it! Obama will run away with the nomination!
Alas, no. Clinton lives to fight another day. And why? According to the pundits, those of most infinite wisdom, is has something to do with the fact that she "cried" on Monday, and by "cried" they mean that her voice choked up for a moment after the exhaustion caused by something like 70 straight hours of campaigning. Voters apparently said, "Oh! Poor Hillary! She is so sad! Let us make her President - that will cheer her up!" When women see a woman cry, they want to vote for her. (Which is silly, because as every woman knows, you cry to make men do something, not other women! Maybe this works backwards in politics.)
Personally, I think it's all a load of nonsense, but then... I have had enough encounters to make me wonder how the average woman thinks. (Buying a car, for example, when I said, "I want safety!" and the dealer said, "But look at the pretty colors!" and I said, "Safety, I want safety and fuel efficiency, durnit!" and the dealer said, "Do you want a blue car?") Oh please, for the love of American politics, don't let Hillary have won the vote because she cried. As one reporter said, "How far can you run a campaign on sympathy?"
McCain, as everyone expected, trounced the rest of his party. Or as the New York Times said:
Clinton Is Victor, Defeating Obama;
McCain Also Wins
In the midst of all this, the news channels briefly mentioned that Wyoming had voted for Romney, whatever. (The "whatever" was theirs, not mine.) Wyoming moved their primary up ridiculously early to try to catch a bit of national attention. Are you serious, Wyoming? The only time the nation pays attention to you is when they're trying to get from Colorado to Montana. For their foolish impudence, the GOP slashed their number of convention delegates in half, and similarly punished the other states that tried to jostle earlier into the limelight, New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida.
Oregon's primary, I should mention, is more or less symbolic. We don't vote until May. The state has taken a c'est la vie attitude, knowing that moving us up closer to Super Tuesday would do nothing at all, since at that point everyone is focusing on big bully states like California and New York. Help! We need primary election reform!
*Gasp!* Writing even a little about the process has drained the life force completely out of me. Must go energize with...something...comic books...perhaps chopping wood...
I swear, this is the longest freaking election ever.