Run for president? No thanks, I'll walk
If I had to do it over again, I think I would’ve run for president.
Not that I’d actually want to BE president, mind you (that seems like too much effort exerted for too little return on time invested) ... but there’s something about the idea of RUNNING for president that seems like ... I dunno ... what’s the word? ...
I mean, don’t the 2,020 people running in the 2020 presidential election look as though they’re enjoying themselves?
The other night, 10 of the Democratic candidates survived a grueling backstage round of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock to earn the right to go before a nationwide television and cyberspace audience and spew half-truths, gaffes and empty promise.
You know, the sorts of things that get chewed up and spit out for a 24 hour news cycle, and never brought up again — unless, that is, you try to make a vague comparison between yourself and a former president, or promise that, yes, you will raise taxes.
I mean, I could do that — the half-truths part; the roshambo preliminary round would require actual strategery.
The thing about half-truths is that you’re only half-lying to people. Call it the Pitino Principle.
The basketball coach Rick Pitino, when was with the Boston Celtics, went into a press conference and stated the exact opposite of what he had told reporters the day before — and, when questioned about it, he said he had been telling the truth both times.
How? Well, Pitino said, what was true yesterday isn’t necessarily what’s going to be true tomorrow.
Politicians get to do that for a living. And those running for, or actually becoming, president can live in both realities and it’s accepted as just another reason why this is the greatest country on Earth.
If I were to make promises, though, they wouldn’t be for such blue-sky grandiose goals as “returning” to the moon or colonizing Mars.
I’d promise, for instance, to get America’s best and brightest scientists — at least those who haven’t been ordered to lie to satisfy political egos — to work on technology that would send a electrical shock to heads-down smartphone users who mindlessly bump into you on a sidewalk or hiking trail.
See? Very few of us are going to make it to Mars ... but nearly all of us have had our peaceful strolls interrupted by some clueless texter telling his or her friends about walking down a street or trail.
I’d also like to run for president because you get to have someone write your own book for you — which would satisfy all those in your life who have told you that you need to write a book someday — and hiring a ghost to do the boring part leaves you with time to make crucial decisions ... such as whether to have your hand hold up your head in the cover photo.
Candidates, especially those less familiar with the general public, write books filled with their half-truths and empty promises in order to increase their name recognition ... which is important if you want to have a chance to engage in elimination rounds of Rock-Paper-Scissors-Lizard-Spock, before people forget your name.
It’s the political corollary of the Jack Elam Career Theorem — so named for the late character actor and Ashland resident who used it to describe the stages of a movie career.
Stage 1: “Who is Hickenlooperswalwellmoulton?”
Stage 2: “We need Hickenlooperswalwellmoulton!”
Stage 3: “Let’s find a Hickenlooperswalwellmoulton type.”
Stage 4: “It’s time for a younger Hickenlooperswalwellmoulton.”
Stage 5: “Who is Hickenlooperswalwellmoulton?”
Somewhere between Stages 2 and 4, I’d be running across the country like Forrest Gump (without the facial hair; even James Buchanan didn’t let people see his beard) making off-the-cuff, scripted jokes with Jimmy Kimmell, selling my book I didn’t write and, most importantly, checking off places on my bucket list of visiting all 57 states.
(Wait? We didn’t really elect a president who said on the campaign trail that there were 57 states, did we? ... No, we didn’t; he said he had visited 57 states, and still had “one left to go.”)
Growing up in the northeast, a regional gambit was to get a group of dorm-mates in your car and spend a day hitting all 5.5 New England states (half of Connecticut’s really just a NYC suburb). Running for president you could do that without a) doing the driving or 2) bringing along that one kid whose bucket list item was to stand by the “Welcome to ...” sign in all 58 states.
Still, the most fun I’d having running for president would be just to have the chance (lizard-Spock willing) to speak my mind. I wouldn’t waste time denigrating the others in the race. Heck, I’d barely acknowledge them — we’re not electing Class Bully in Chief ... after all, we’re a been-there, done-that society.
Too often most of us are just like those poor folks on the sidewalks and hiking trails, having our tranquility interrupted by those charging through time without paying attention to life.
People running for president are like that far too often — telling us they know who we are and what we want, without actually understanding what’s happening beyond the walls of their house of mirrors.
Maybe that’s why they look like they’re having fun. Caught up in the limelight of the moment, without having to worry whether yesterday’s truth will still be true tomorrow.
Mail Tribune copy desk chief Robert Galvin can be found in the 58th state of Confusion at email@example.com