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The late comedian Pat Paulsen-- who passed away in 1997-- last ran for
President of the United States of America in 1996. I know this because my
husband opened for him that year at the Punchline in Atlanta, Georgia.
Surprisingly, in the subsequent eight years, two presidential elections
have passed without another standup comic facetiously seeking this global
leadership role. Sure John Stewart came close this year by being
annointed "King of the Liberals" but his monarchy will always be
in doubt from those who claim he was selected, not elected.
Now before you start printing up your Skene 08 bumper stickers,
rest assured that I am not, in any way, suggesting that I plan to throw my
hat into the political ring-- mostly because I don't wear hats-- but
primarily because I would make a terrible candidate. Admittedly, I am
very good at flipping flapjacks and kissing babies, but that would only
serve me well during the primaries. The general election, I'm convinced,
would be disasterous. Knowing me the way I do, there is positively no way
I could make it through a presidential debate without punching somebody in
the nose or bursting into tears. I guess I would have to schedule the
debates around my mentstrual cycle. (Attention ladies: Please direct all
hate mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Besides I'm too sarcastic to be a presidential candidate... even a fake
presidential candidate. But wouldn't presidential campaigns be a lot more
fun if the candidates could be sarcastic from time to time. Remember last
winter when former Vice-Presidential nominee John Edwards was still a
Presidential wannabee during the Democratic primaries? At the time, my
favorite video was of him introducing himself to a middle-aged corn-fed
Iowa woman by saying, "Hi. I'm John Edwards and I'm running for
President." Her middle-aged corn-fed response was priceless,
"President of what?"
Of course, at that point, he still thought he had a shot at the Oval
Office so he behaved in the gentlemanly manner required of a man who wants
to be the Big Cheese of the free world. But imagine if he could have said
exactly what he was thinking? "President of what? I'm
running for President of the Hair Club for Men. Just pull the lever next
to the toupee."
See that's the kind of thing I would say. Which is why I will never be
President of the United States.
It's also the reason why I refuse to campaign for anybody who wants to
be President of the United States. It takes a certain type of
tempermant--or shall I say a certain small number of brain cells--to deal
with the well-meaninged but ignorant masses. I just don't have it in me.
Even if it is all a joke.
I witnessed this frustration up close last Thanksgiving when I
87-year old mother-in-law named Helen and her 88 year-old friend, also
named Helen, to the Philadelphia Amtrak station. As we were sitting on
the rock hard benches admiring the indoor pigeons, we were approached by a
college-age young lady who handed us each a Clark bar with a tiny picture
and bio of Presidential hopeful Wesley Clark stapled to the packaging.
Her request was simple and straightforward, "I would like to ask you
to vote for Wesley Clark for President." My mother-in-law, in all
seriousness, asked the twenty-something campaign worker, "Are you his
wife?" "No she said, I just want to help Wesley Clark become
President of the United States." The other Helen, equally as
serious, chimed in, "Does he live around here?" "No,"
the volunteer said slightly slower than before, "... um... he lives
in Arkansas and... um... he's running for president." The first Helen
studied her Clark bar more intently. "So" she asked, "does
he make candy?"
The dispirited campaign worker left quietly as the two elderly Helens
fixated on their free chocolate. The volunteer said nothing, but you know
what she was thinking. "Yes, Clark makes candy bars and Kerry makes
hand lotion and Dean... well Dean makes those round little sausages. And
Sharpton makes those felt-tip markers that make you just a little high
when you first take the cap off... "
See that's the kind of thing I would say... well, not to my own
certainly to somebody else's mother-in-law if she had said something
equally as ridiculous.
I can honestly say that I haven't been that politically misinformed
since I was seven-years-old. But at least then my age was an excuse for
my perplexing statements. During the 1972 Presidential election, I ran
away from home because my mother refused to tell me which candidate she
had voted for. She explained to me, in her motherly way, that voting was
a privelege and that it is our right as Americans to keep our vote secret
and that it's an important part of our democracy and blah, blah, blah.
Her explanation meant nothing to me! So, I ran away. Of course, running
away consisted of walking around the corner and sitting on our neighbors
step, but I think I made my point. After about an hour of a civic lesson
that was going nowhere, my mother was furious. She marched around the
corner, leaned forward until she was two inches from my face and screamed,
"Nixon! Are you happy?! I voted for Nixon!"
As I dried my baby tears, I looked at her with my big brown eyes and
asked in all earnestness, "Who's Nixon?"
My mother actually turned purple.
Thank goodness I didn't ask my follow-up questions: "President of
Hmmm... maybe I could run for First Lady? But Traci, we don't
for First Lady. True, but I think after witnessing the spectacle that is
Teresa Heinz-Kerry all Democrats would agree that there should be a
Constititional Amendment which allows constituents to vote seperately for
President and First Lady.
Ideology aside, I'm not a big fan of Teresa Heinz-Kerry but it might
have been fun to have a First Lady who could say "shove it" in
five different languages. It certainly would have made things interesting.
If we had given her four years in the White House, I guarantee she wold
have out-Hillary'd Hillary. No tea and cookies for Teresa. No Tammy
Wynnett "Stand By Your Man" for this billionaire bitch, no
siree. Just 1,460 days of designer suits, stiff-backed hugs and
condescending smiles. If Bill Clinton was the first black president then
Teresa heinz-Kerry would have been the first self-proclaimed
African-American first lady. Martin Luther King Jr. must be spinning in
To be honest, Teresa Heinz-Kerry scares the heck out of me. Mostly
because I think she scares the heck out of John Kerry and I'm not sure we
want a president who is afraid to go home at night. Have you ever seen
the guy sitting alone in the tavern who sips his drink slowly desperately
trying to stave off the inevitability of going home to the "little
woman"? That's how I pictured John Kerry. I could just see him
sitting at the bar in the Oval Office-- oh yeah he'd have a bar-- saying
to John Edwards, "Ah come on, just one more drinky pooh. The night
It only took a few days after this most recent election for John Kerry
to announce that he may yet again seek his party's nomination in 2008.
That gives him four more years to have Teresa's medication properly
adjusted. Or it gives him four years to create and perfect his standup
act. Maybe next time he could just run as a comedian instead of as a
Democrat. I can just hear opening line to all of his speeches, "Take
my wife... please."
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