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All This For An Office That Isnít Even Round?
by Mad Dog


If the candidates keep up this pace they stand to collectively haul in about $924 million by election day. Thatís $3 for every man, woman, and child in the country, and $300,000 for each one of them that cares. 
When I was growing up I was taught that good things come to those who wait, but this being the 21st ó or next to last, according to Al Gore ócentury, that advice has been replaced with ďthe sooner the better,Ē ďthereís no time like the present,Ē and ďIsnít there anything faster than instant gratification?Ē Thatís why itís not surprising that itís 18 months before the presidential election and weíre already in Massive Candidate Overkill Mode.

   Yes, I said 18 months. In spite of how it feels, the election isnít this November, itís next November. As in 2008. Yet already everyone youíve ever heard of in politics has thrown his or her hat into the ring, except of course those who arenít running but are just testing the waters by doing all the same things those who are running are doing only without the honesty to admit thatís what theyíre doing. Then there are the candidates you havenít heard of ó Iíd tell you their names but you wouldnít recognize them ó who may be running, may have an exploratory committee looking into their sanity ó I mean, viability ó or at the least are raising lots of money because, well, they can. Hey, itís a living. And a damned good one too.


The first primaries arenít until next February, nearly 10 months away. I could conceive, gestate, and have a baby in that amount of time. Actually I couldnít, but I could have an integral part in the process. Well, if anyone were interested.
   How much money have they collected? In the first quarter of this year the Democratic candidates have raised about $80 million, while those slacker Republicans have pulled in a measly $52 million. This is a record, not only for the most money raised in a quarter and most money raised this long before an election, but also for the most money that would have been better invested in lottery tickets. If the candidates keep up this pace they stand to collectively haul in about $924 million by election day. Thatís $3 for every man, woman, and child in the country, $300,000 for each one of them that cares, and enough money that if it was converted into twenty dollar bills and laid end to end, by the time you got halfway down the block people would be stealing them. That much money could send 80,000 students to a public college for a year, provide health insurance coverage for 1.69 million people, fund the war in Iraq for 4.73 days, or pay Donald Trumpís hair product bill for a year. Okay, six months, but you get the point.

   Who ever knew that being a candidate could be a full time job? And such a lucrative one at that. At this rate, by the time the primaries roll around each candidate will have shaken every citizenís hand at least twice and collected enough money to keep them stocked with bumper stickers, crank out plenty of misleading TV ads, and buy one lucky candidate the Oval Office.


Along the way, most of the candidates will drop out, some because they donít raise enough money, others because they raised enough to let the voters know who they are, which will turn out to be a fatal mistake.
   Whatís the rush? The first primaries arenít until next February, nearly 10 months away. I could conceive, gestate, and have a baby in that amount of time. Actually I couldnít, but I could have an integral part in the process. Well, if anyone were interested. Itís certainly not like the candidates donít have anything better to do. After all, they supposedly have full time jobs running our country. Sure itís more fun to send staffers to Costco every day to buy cases of Purell so you donít catch 1,287 colds a week because youíll shake any hand thatís stretched in your general direction including the toll taker on the bridge, eat $1.98 chicken dinners that people pay thousands of dollars for so they can watch you pretend to enjoy it, and relax before bed by counting the nightly take, then go to sleep on top of the pile, but face it, it wouldnít hurt to do the job youíve already been elected to do before you go running around trying to get elected to a new one. How do you think the rest of our bosses would like it if we spent the next 18 months on the road interviewing for a new job when weíre supposed to be doing what we were hired and are being paid to do? Yeah, thatís what I thought. Weíd be unemployed. Maybe thatís something we should consider.

   Along the way, most of the candidates will drop out, some because they donít raise enough money, others because they raised enough to let the voters know who they are, which will turn out to be a fatal mistake. Two will get their partyís nomination. And a couple who donít get nominated will keep campaigning anyway, vying for the Perot-Forbes-Nader Award for Inability to Recognize Failure In Spite of Having Enough of Your Own Money to Fund a Campaign When The Odds of Winning Make Custerís Last Stand Look Like a Shoo-in for the White Guy.

   Of the candidates left standing, one will wind up as president. This time around it might be a woman. Or an African-American. Or even a guy named Mitt. Regardless, theyíll have some things in common ó theyíll be wealthy, theyíll have been given more donations than the Red Cross after a 100-year hurricane, and they will have just spent 18 months kissing babies, shaking hands, and having their photos taken with high dollar donors without feeling like a twenty-dollar streetwalker. Itís a tough job, but someone has to do it. And if they want it theyíd better start now.

©2007 Mad Dog Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
These columns appear in better newspapers across the country. Read them while waiting for the damned election already.

 

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