It's My Turn
By Sharon Rutman
Rockaway resident Sharon Rutman is the co-author of the Complete Idiot's Guide to the Titanic and she is currently completing her master's degree at Brooklyn College in English Literature.
When I last checked, the calendar still read the year 2007. We are now past the Memorial Day weekend, the universal kickoff of the summer season of sun and surf at Rockaway Beach. One would think that this is the ideal opportunity to simply relax and "veg" out near the shore.
A brief glimpse of the evening news, however, reveals a totally distorted, fun-house mirror image of an America in the throes of crisis. America is teetering on the verge of anarchy and chaos! Every night, the panic-stricken shrieking heads which dominate broadcast news sternly warn the ignorant chattering classes that doom, gloom, and despair will prevail unless some important decisions are made immediately about this mighty nation's future. Time is of the essence. What is this weighty matter that cannot wait? Why does the selection of the top two contenders for the presidency of the United States in an election that is over a year away, get top billing in national news?
Any person who is still reasonably sane after a dose of the nightly news might actually wonder why the presidential election of 2008 has to be decided in 2007. The primaries won't even begin until February of 2008, so what is the rush? Yet, pointless candidate debates on both sides have taken on a life of their own and the pundits frantically analyze each poll the way a carnival psychic pretends to scrutinize your palm to predict the future.
The soap opera quality of the media's premature presidential feeding frenzy is almost too comical for words at times. Can John Edwards live down "haircut-gate" and the absurd fascination over his now ill-fated $400 trip to the barbershop? Will Hillary Clinton successfully fend off Barack Obama's growing momentum? Can John McCain prove he's not too old to run for the presidency and that he's somehow still relevant? Will Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney convince the Republican ultra-conservative Christian base that they're not a couple of socially liberal northern flip-floppers on abortion and gay rights? These are the burning questions that must be answered as soon as possible. Time is of the essence!
Perhaps the reason behind the fuss and bother over Election 2008 is a historical one. For the first time in recent memory the sitting president is not up for reelection, nor is the vice president automatically his party's flag bearer in the race for the White House. (Co-president Cheney would consider being president a demotion.) As of right now, the presidential contest for both Democrats and Republicans is wide open. The candidates are reduced to jockeying for position as they press the flesh, kiss babies, and shamelessly suck up to everyone for votes. Is anyone surprised that Election 2008 "burnout" is already settling in?
By Memorial Day 2008 America will have decided which two political gladiators are going to face off in the longest running reality show of all - American Political Idol. The winner gets some pretty amazing perks including the chance to lead a great nation (barring impeachment), living in a huge white house (at taxpayer's expense) and having an airplane and a fleet of gas guzzling cars at his/her disposal. It doesn't get much better than this, does it?
Meanwhile, it's time to hit the beach. Bring on the trashy chick-lit novels, please! Don't forget the sunscreen. Try to remember that, according to the New York Post, Rockaway has the most dangerous beaches in New York City, so let's be careful out there!