A baseball summer swoon sparks interest in politics
I've been studying the presidential race pretty closely over the last month, and now I can pretty much sum up my conclusions on the candidates with about a sentence for each. George W. Bush doesn't know much about anything but would appoint pretty good advisers that would presumably allow the White House to run reasonably smoothly. Gore, on the other hand, is about as inspiring as a board, and it seems to me that his most successful way of endearing himself to the people was admitting as much in his convention speech.
I haven't really cared for politics in the past, and I sort of think that the only reason I really started to follow it at all was because the Seattle Mariners (my home team) have started an incredible losing slide, losing about 13 of the last 16 games and making it embarrassing to keep track of them anymore. After awhile, I couldn't bear flipping to the sports section, lest I hear more bad news, and in its place I read the A-section. I imagine that if the Mariners start playing well again, my interest in politics will eventually peter out.
Why exactly is this? I think it has something to do with the fact that politics is pretty boring to the layperson. Even though the result of the presidential race is going to be a difference of several hundreds of dollars to each individual taxpayer, just considering their tax plans alone, the news being reported from the campaign trail is sometimes so petty and unsubstantial that it makes me wonder if they are attempting to appeal to people logically analyzing the issues, or to the readers of "People" magazine.
Two weeks ago I remember a top story from the Washington Post -- front page news -- that George W. Bush had stumbled over parts of his speech after a long day of campaigning, saying "hostage" instead of "hostile" a couple times, and accidentally saying Clinton had been in office for four years instead of eight. This news is apparently important enough to report on the front page of one of the nation's most important newspapers.
But as bad as the newspapers are in reporting actual substance, the candidates may be worse. Bush's campaign team apparently believes the best way to beat Gore is to connect him to Clinton's illicit conduct in the minds of Americans, despite the fact that this is really a non-issue and Gore really had no more association to the behavior than incidentally being the Vice President at the wrong time.
Bush's tactics have been so unsubstantial and abrasive that I have to say that I've grown to disgust the thought of him becoming President and will vote for Gore. While I don't care for Gore much more than Bush, at least he's boring enough that you could just ignore him for four years or so while he's busy doing his job.
I don't really think that this is the best way to perceive the presidential elections, but this is basically what the candidates and the newspapers are serving us. It's not hard to understand why even baseball -- not exactly the most exciting sport itself -- is often more enthralling than the presidential elections. In baseball, the winner is the person who wins the most games over the course of a 162-game season and then beats his opponents in the playoffs over the course of a couple 5 or 7-game series. What does it take to win a presidential election? It seems to me that the winner is the person with more charisma, looks better in photographs and television, wears the most personable clothes, and stumbles over his words the least in campaign speeches. It's deplorable that a person's image is more important in deciding an election than how they stand on the issues and in their ability. I somehow thought that only high school elections were actually popularity contests. It isn't hard to see why I'm hoping that the Mariners start doing well, so I can skip right to the sports section again when I pick up the newspaper.