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Here we are now, stimulate us

BY DEAN TREFTZ | FEBRUARY 16, 2009 7:50 AM

Audio: The author reads his column


Man, February sucks.

Aside from the cold, dark, and manufactured holidays that allow the service industry to stagger on to safer, warmer harbors, February is boring. That Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin were both born in February is unrepresentative of the month, because at least they’re entertaining.

As a mid-November baby, I stand as a particularly obnoxious testament to February’s inability to supply anything better to do. There’s not even a decent sport to hibernate to, unless you somehow count the hockey, NASCAR, or regular-season NBA, though to be perfectly honest, watching the 5-9 Nate Robinson bound over 6-11-inch Dwight Howard in this past weekend’s dunk contest was pretty awesome. Every four years we get the winter Olympics, but I think that may help prove my point.
But not last year. Oh no, last year we were privy to the epicenter of that eye-gouging, shin-kicking, nail-scratching bloodbath that our president and secretary of State would like to forget. Call me campaign dreaming on such a winter day (but seriously folks, try the fish …).

What does this February have in comparison to the primaries of last year? Sorry, Geithner, A-Rod’s shrunken testicles, and Sens. Collins, Snowe, and Specter — I’d rather be tallying superdelegates.
That’s why I’m proposing we start staggering our elections so that we have at least one major office up for re-election every March 10 or so. We can call it the National Attention Span Stimulus or The Bridge [from the Super Bowl] to March Madness.

There are many more daytime television viewers than previously, thanks to the economy, and what are they offered on the Big Three? Bank recapitalization and stimulus provisions such as providing remote areas with the Internet. Ugh.

How are we supposed to form a definitive opinion on things we can’t really understand? Where will airs of self satisfaction come from?

Keeping up with the stimulus requires a decent attention span and an appreciation of minutiae — the political equivalent of a pitchers’ duel: Something Assholes Say is the most interesting type of competition but still usually loses out to that Bruce-Willis-as-a-boat-cop movie on TBS (full disclosure: I may have, on occasion, espoused the merits of a 1-0 baseball game).

Around a year ago, a member of the Rodham Clinton campaign had circulated that goofy picture of Obama in turban and “ethnic” (see: Muslim-looking) robes. Bam, just like that, some people were provided with outrage, others with accusations of posturing and overblowing, and Matt Drudge had a field day.

Those were simpler times. You got a snap opinion and, more importantly, there was no possibility that the other side had a legitimate point or that they were even worth listening to.
Think about it — if we had an election in a couple of weeks, Democrats wouldn’t have any nagging concerns with the stimulus’ actual effectiveness and Republicans wouldn’t secretly doubt every single member of their House caucus hated the bill. Cognitive dissonance would be a thing of the past.

And while we’re at it, why don’t we tack on a couple more provisions that have been a long time coming?

For starters:
• At least one debate should be hosted by Geraldo.
• Institutionalize Joe the Plumber: two citizens will be chosen from the census at random to act as semi-official surrogates for each campaign.
• Mascots?
• Third-party candidates must compete in a reality show to determine who gets to participate in debates.

I know we can’t be blessed every year with a campaign such as Rodham Clinton vs. Obama, but it still beats hockey.

This plan even has benefits for those of you who aren’t as politically inclined. You would have the exciting opportunity to bitch about how annoying those goddamn political ads are at a much higher frequency.

There’s an economic component, too. The presidential campaign alone was more than a $1 billion industry in 2008. And think about the merchandising opportunities — Obama’s face has appeared on so many T-shirts that pundits scrambled to be the first to say “Obama is the new black” (which subsequently became a T-shirt itself).

If there’s any downside to this plan, I can’t see it.


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