Whenever one begins to think politics in these United States can’t get any lower, any more ridiculous, any more dispiriting, we have a week like last week.
From the buffoonery on display in Iowa to the tribal warring in Washington to the latest Trumpian retribution, politicians and our political process just becomes more embarrassing.
Remember when our system of government was the envy of other nations? Now it’s a punch line.
The week began with the Super Bowl. Thought you could avoid politics for a few hours? Please. It’s an election year.
President Donald Trump’s contribution checked in as the least-liked commercial during the game, according to a Colling Media survey of adults throughout the country. (The Doritos ad with Lil Nas X and Sam Elliott was the most-liked. Maybe they should be on the ballot.)
Meanwhile, Democratic candidate Michael Bloomberg, who couldn’t be bothered to jump into the campaign when he might have actually had a chance to win the nomination, also bought $10 million worth of commercial time. So far, he has spent more than $200 million in advertising. Sounds like a lot until you remember his net worth is more than $61 billion — that’s with a "B" — according to Forbes.
And Bloomberg wasn’t even trying to get any votes in Iowa.
For many, Monday was the first time they had actually paid attention to the Iowa caucuses. They got an eyeful.
Playing out over and over in the Hawkeye state was the most ridiculous scene to take place in a school gymnasium since the last time I tried to play basketball. At each spot it looked like volunteers were trying to herd cats and then count them by hand. Not like it was important to get it right or anything.
I would hate to own stock in the app that failed so miserably during the process. I get mad when my Spotify app won’t work. Imagine how every citizen of the state must’ve felt as TV talking heads filled the time they had planned to spend analyzing results by talking about Iowans’ incompetence at getting them results. Who wants to bet the 2024 race doesn’t begin with a caucus in Iowa?
Tuesday night brought us a State of the Union address unlike any other. It was less State of the Union than daytime talk show. Might as well have been Ellen surprising audience members with prizes or reuniting them with family.
Sandwiched around the president’s 80-minute infomercial was his refusal to shake hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Pelosi’s theatrical tearing up of his speech. Never have septuagenarians looked so much like 7-year-olds.
Anyone who approved of either of them acting that way is not only part of the problem, but the actual problem.
In the future, can we agree to only allow one stationary camera into the Capitol, train it on the president and just focus on what he or she has to say, never showing the president’s party members jumping up and down and cheering as if it was a South American soccer match or showing the opposition party members sitting sullen and silent, shaking their heads disapprovingly as if getting a lecture in the principal’s office.
On to Wednesday. The acquittal. Surprise!
When the only suspense is whether a single politician will break party ranks, it’s a pretty predictable outcome. And whether the decision was exoneration or abomination depended not one iota on the evidence, but only on the letter in parentheses appearing after one’s name. Call it an exercise in futility, a waste of time or a sham. Just get ready for the sequel. Odds are there will be another impeachment during the next presidential term, regardless of who wins in 2020.
It was, however, surprising to see Trump posing with a newspaper announcing his acquittal in a 200-point headline. Isn’t that consorting with the enemy, Mr. President?
Trump had barely finished congratulating himself on his win when he remembered he had still become only the third president to be impeached. Heads had to roll and he went into full retaliatory mode, firing anyone who had been disloyal by, you know, swearing to tell the truth and testifying.
Trump had security guards march a lieutenant colonel, who is a decorated Iraq War veteran, out of the White House -- along with his brother -- and also recalled an ambassador who had donated $1 million to Trump’s campaign. Meanwhile, Republicans reportedly were “scared” to vote to impeach Trump. Gee, I wonder why?
On Friday night, the hopefuls for the Democratic presidential nomination capped the week by debating each other in New Hampshire, their latest opportunity to eat their own before the nation’s first primary. This time, Pete Buttigieg was treated as the front runner and thus the punching bag. We’ll see how that works for him. It hasn’t gone so well for the previous flavors of the month as Joe Biden went from prohibitive favorite to admitting Friday he’s an underdog and Elizabeth Warren’s percentage in the polls is now almost as low as her percentage of Native American DNA.
At least today begins a new week. A new chance for a nation’s leaders and parties to get their act together. Or to provide more fodder for late-night hosts, to the amusement of the rest of the world.
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Bob Blubaugh is the editor of the Carroll County Times. His column appears Sundays. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.