Saturday, November 10, 2007

Old Con Man of the Mountain

There's no hope for a functional American political system for another four years. The New Hampshire primary is taking place as scheduled, although they're not quite sure what the schedule might be.

The next Leader of the Free World (since the list of countries we're leading has shrunk to like Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, and Uzbekistan, it may be time to drop that title) will have fallen for one of the most blatant rip off schemes ever invented. No matter who wins the primaries, the crusty, tax-hatin', "fiercely independent" Yankee citizens of my good neighbor to the north will have agaim succeeded in their primary goal, getting the system to pour money they don't deserve into their economy.

Oh, to have a stake in the balance sheet of WMUR-TV, Manchester, this time of year. In one ten minute stretch last night, Barack Obama, John Edwards, and Mitt Romney all had commercials. And Hillary and Rudy haven't even started to spend. Mailmen in Nashua are undergoing back surgery in droves, broken by the combined weight of direct mail fund-raising appeals and Christmas catalogs. Hotels in Bedford, Hanover, and Portsmouth that are empty three out of every four Decembers will soon fill with the brainless cream of our nation's political journalists, frantically pondering the meaning of the noncommital grunts of the voters.

It's all a shuck. The voters of New Hampshire select presidential nominees with only idea, keeping their unfair and, when you get right down to it, comical grasp on power. Since they are good Americans, New Hampshirepersons seek power for the most benign of reasons - making money out of it. In addition to the direct flow of campaign funds into their coffers, you may be sure that the 2009-2o13 federal budgets will contain teeny-tiny multi-million buck items that benefit no one south of the Merrimack River, promises kept by a grateful President.

People running for President are desperate men and women, and hence, really easy to fool. We are now entering the most hilarious stage of the New Hampshire Swindle, the part where its voters pretend to change their minds on a daily basis, the better to drive up the political community's frenzy quotient.

Said community is agog this morning about a yet-t0-be-released poll showing that Hillary Clinton now longer has a commanding lead among New Hampshire Democratic voters. Can you believe it? There's now a three-way tie between her, Obama, and Edwards. Why, New Hampshire just might decide the whole election!!!!

Leave aside the obvious truth that one New Hampshire autumn poll is like one New Hampshire autumn falling leaf-there's plenty more where that came from. One is inevitably eminded of the massive mood swings the Granite State electorate went through in the last double primary election of 2000, when polls showed tight races with multiple lead changes between Bill Bradley and Al Gore and John McCain and George Bush right up until two landslide victories for Gore and McCain.

Idealists, OK, maybe only David Broder, would say this proves how seriously New Hampshire takes its responsibilities as a bellwether leader of our democracy. I say the poll fluctuations show why Vince McMahon is a very rich man. If a state has a vested interest in making sure its opinion has undue influence, then foregone conclusions are bad for business, and must be avoided at all costs. Anyone who thinks the citizens of New Hampshire lack the intelligence and sophistication to pull off such a scam is insulting them.

What's even better is that New Hampshire hasn't had a real effect on an election in almost 30 years. Ronald Reagan's victory there in 1980 did indeed set him on the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. But Presidents Tsongas, Buchanan, and Kerry? No.

This is one case where the moral onus of the swindle rests solely on the suckers. It is well within the power of the political system to put New Hampshire in its rightful, obscure place. Don't go there. Literally. No campaign stops, no commercials, no debates at St. Anselm's. Let them make up their minds in solitude, which would actually give the results some validity.

This will never happen. Not even Ron Paul has the guts to call New Hampshire's bluff. The groveling presidential candidates do there is a symbol to the system. Don't worry. I'm no threat to the status quo.

I'm old, lazy, and cynical even by the high standards of newspaper work. But if some hero were to declare their candidacy for the Presidency and announce he or she was shunning the New Hampshire primary, I would leave my job, my home, and all my worldly goods to follow their star. I would campaign for them barefoot door-to-door.

Especially if they spent the time in the Florida primary instead.


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