Thursday, October 07, 2004

When John Edwards and Big Time Fight Authority

What struck me were the moments preceding the whole affair, this business of the VP candidates debating. Most of you probably joined the debate right as the major broadcast networks did; that is, when people actually started talking. As I am forcibly subscribed to the Worst. Cable. Ever., I have no major cable news to speak of, and therefore am exiled to C-SPAN for any semblance of non-crap in national news coverage (the above statement excuses the fact that C-SPAN’s cutting-edge morning show, which, when it needs to make a graphic point, will zoom in on a cut-out newspaper article, various paragraphs of which have been circled by a highlighter. If news is really breaking and the crack research staff hasn't had time to bust out the mega-high tech stuff, the paragraphs in question have been circled in pen. Otherwise, Bics are used to primarily tap on the highlighted paragraph currently under discussion. You can only watch this stuff in small doses; otherwise, the quick-cuts from one twenty-minute shot to another may cause seizures and vomiting.)

The thing with C-SPAN is, they have no anchors, no pre-show, and no commentary, which makes it old-school awesome. You get to hear the shuffle-murmur, shuffle-murmur-cough of the auditorium crowd, and that? IS America.

Life hurtled straight downhill from there, however, as perhaps the most uncomfortable five minutes of life on all the Earth followed. The candidates are announced-- big cheers-- and I turn to look at the clock, and it’s 8:55. Debate starts at nine. WTF, is C-SPAN messing with me, or is my blonde-fabulous atomic wall clock not doing its business?

Oh, no, no. They wanted Big Time and Edwards right there when the broadcast starts, so they came on stage, and they’re sitting there, and writing stuff down, and the crowd was totally silent, and Big Time must have enormous handwriting because after a few seconds he turned the page, and it was the loudest page-turn in the history of the world. Then after a few seconds he finished writing, which left him with absolutely nothing to do, so he took to folding his hands and staring over the moderator’s shoulder in vaguely Vice Presidential fashion. Edwards' solution was to simply write and write and write and write and write, because he is REALLY TRULY MEGA-SERIOUS ABOUT WANTING THIS JOB. I bet he was just making little squiggles there, towards the end, but to be totally honest that’s probably what I would have wound up doing too. And the moderator, with no reason to write anything, took to switching between avoiding eye contact with Big Time and not losing sight of the C-SPAN camera from Rent-To-Own.

But at last Edwards ran out of squiggles and then he, too, was just sitting and staring. It was the cocktail party from hell. I'm telling you, there was some truly serious democracy going on there, at 8:58 PM in Cleveland.

And when the festivities finally got underway, Edwards, who graduated summa cum laude from Miss Pritchett’s School of Smarm, stared directly into the lens with this big smile and enormous nod and also an eyebrow pop. I think we can all agree that people who waggle their eyebrows in any capacity whatsoever are in no way fit to be President.

Big Time, for his part, made a huge impression by looking exactly the same way he always does, by which I mean... exactly the same way he always does. Three and a half years of unending warfare haven’t aged the man at all. I was more weatherbeaten by the Reds '99 season. I can't decide to be impressed, or frightened.

The best part about Edwards’ performance was his strict adherence to the rules of engagement, such as his attention to a prohibition against the candidates addressing one another directly, a prohibition he showed immense respect for by making the very first words out of his mouth “Mr. Vice President…”

Other than noting the fact that when it was all over Big Time waded angrily into the crowd while Edwards just kept loading up on small children, I’m not going to get into the during-and-aftermath because three of my fellow writers have already done so.

GORDO COOPER UPDATE: I was properly reamed by a friend for not mentioning in Wednesday’s eulogy the role that Astronaut Cooper plays in that most triumphant of human acts, modern urination.

Whenever a particular group of friends and I are assembled, our Secret Signal for a trip to the Little Astronaut’s room is to intone, “Gordo… Gordo.” This is a quote from a scene in the movie version of The Right Stuff depicting that glorious moment in American history in which Alan Shepard, winched into his tiny capsule for hours and really, really needing to pee, was forced to beg permission to do so from the rocket scientists in the bunkhouse. And since Gordo was the capsule communicator (capcom) between the astronaut and the engineers, he was the one who got to hear all the pleading. So all these Germans start bickering because they’re afraid that Shepard is going to electrocute himself what with the live wiring in his suit and all, and Gordo cuts in with, “Look, the man has got to go.” And so they gave in, and Alan peed in his suit, and we beat the Commies.

I miss Gordo.

1 comment:

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