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American Presidential Politics is a Small, Dumb Network Sit-Com in a World of 1000 Channels

And they wonder why nobody watches any more.

Oooh! This Just In! Breaking News! Mike Pence! How will Trump’s surprising yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaawnnnnnn….

Meanwhile, Capitol Hill is buzzing as Hillary Clinton weighs her options when it comes to insert loud, comical snoring noises.

It’s a small, dumb sit-com and everybody hates it, but they’re still fighting so hard to sell it to us! Listen to the Rachel Maddows of this world as they struggle gamely to make us care about this shit. Mike Pence? Mike Pence is so hilariously and obviously god-damn dumb that it’s fun to watch his eyes when he’s asked the simplest of questions—they’re like tiny forest creatures running around in his skull, trying desperately to find some tall grass to hide in, never quite in synch with each other. I’d bet anything that if you said to Mike Pence, “Hey Mike—is it true that your nickname used to be ‘Shillings And?’” he’d have no idea what you’re talking about. “Huh? What the heck are ‘chillings’?” My God, Mike Pence’s world is so tiny! It’s a little plastic Citizen Kane-type snowglobe, rolling across a bare floor and eventually bumping into Trump’s own cheap snowglobe. These are men of extremely low intellect—sub-normal in many ways–though to be fair, Trump’s IQ is probably way up there in the 104-105 range, while Pence would have trouble cracking the century-mark (even though the IQ tests are totally weighted in favor of well-to-do white males.) What happens when two men of such low brainpower stand beside each other on a stage is a question for experts in theoretical physics—or maybe experts in communicable diseases—will there be skull-to-skull leakage and cross-contaminaton? Will Trump become a tiny bit more Pence-y, and Pence a tad more Trump-y? Correct answer: WHO GIVES A SHIT? But MSNBC and CNN will continue to barrage us with! Breaking! News! “It’s official—and now DC insiders are buzzing about… appranently Gingrich was notified by…exactly how Chris Christie will—“   SHUT UP! WE DON’T CARE!

The best thing about the Sanders candidacy—and it is no small achievement—was to suddenly make blazingly obvious to us all what each of us had suspected on our lonesome—that we’re actually not alone in our revulsion toward the system, that all of America is so god-damn sick of the Democrats and Republicans and Wassermans and Priebuses and Gingriches and Blitzers and Maddows, and yes, the (shillings and) Pences—the whole tedious operetta—that even a cranky old Jewish quasi-lefty who started his campaign with no thought of winning could come very close to tearing down the whole shithouse. What if the next Bernie Sanders is fiercely articulate, physically attractive, charming—and an Actual Socialist? As a Tin Pan Alley lyricist once asked, “How ya gonna keep ‘em down on the farm after they’ve seen Paree?”

But in the meantime we’re stuck with two candidates loathed by everyone outside their immediate families. The Democrats—who keep screaming about how dangerous Trump is—have chosen as his opponent the one and only candidate who might’ve been genetically engineered to be beaten by him. Forget Sanders—you want to beat Donald Trump? Put up Harry freaking Reid, for God’s sake! Amy Klobuchar! Any boring non-entity with a (D) after his/her name would slaughter Donald Trump—and don’t those words sound sweet?–except for Hillary Clinton! “Hey—let’s attack Trump for not releasing his tax forms!” Damn, we forgot, Hillary won’t release the Wall Street speeches. “Let’s attack Trump for being vulgar with his money!” Shit, the Clintons gave their daughter a $3,000,000 wedding after Bill cut off money to single moms. “Let’s nail Trump for switching positions willy-nilly on important social issues for mere political advantage!” Oh, yeah. Damn..,

For all their cute stylistic differences, which could’ve been scripted by sitcom writers—Trump’s compensatory small-penis bluster versus Hillary’s anal-compulsive, Jesuitical micro-lying—they really only differ on details: they’re both pro-Wall Street, pro-fracking, pro-bombing (though Clinton more so than Trump, of course), pro-death-penalty, and anti-“welfare”, anti-single-payer, etc. One prefers to openly gloat about crushing the poor; the other prefers to look grim about it.

We’re all gonna need to put on Hazmat suits before watching Trump and Clinton debate. Otherwise the Zika virus of Clinton’s hypocrisy and/or Trump’s severe case of moral Ebola will drip right through the screen and infect us all. Please take precautions, everyone. A Safe America Begins With You! In the long run, the only way to really stay safe is simply not to indulge.

So pity poor MSNBC. They bought into this whole “politics is the new rock-and-roll” trope that a few slick consultants with no feel for the zeitgeist managed to sell them back in the ‘90s, and now they’re stuck with it. “The Place for Politics.” It’s like calling yourself “The Place for Ambivalence.” And of course they never really do cover politics, which Merriam-Webster defines as “activities that relate to influencing the actions and policies of a government or getting and keeping power in a government.” Because that “influencing” comes by way of billion-dollar arms deals, bank transfers to secret accounts, and promissory notes that are never written down. What MSNC actually covers is people talking about politics. It’s like callling yourself “The Place for Baseball” but featuring 24/7 coverage of Bob Costas, Jack Buck, and other sportscasters, while never showing the actual game.

You want ratings? Send Rachel Maddow to cover the next bargaining session between General Electric’s weapons=dealing subsidiary and the rulers of Saudi Arabia. Have Don Lemon cover the sales of armored tanks to big-city police departments.

It may not be as amusing as watching Chris Matthews try to form a coherent sentence, but I guarantee you, people will tune in.

That would really be “must-see TV.”

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John Eskow is a writer and musician. He wrote or co-wrote the movies Air America, The Mask of Zorro, and Pink Cadillac, as well as the novel Smokestack Lightning. He is a contributor to Killing Trayvons: an Anthology of American Violence. He can be reached at: johneskow@yahoo.com

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