Shell Shocked: How to run for president
Isn’t it curious how all presidential candidates can be all things to all people? Regardless of which group they’re addressing, that group is the most important collection of people in the country – at that particular moment.
Let’s spend a typical week with a presidential candidate and see for ourselves how he’s able to pull this off.
Day one finds our candidate dressed in overalls, work boots and hay droppings as he speaks before a group of farmers in one of the farm-belt states.
“You farmers have to be proud of your heritage. When I was a boy, I used to walk barefoot through the soil to feel the texture of the earth between my toes. Farmers are the backbone of our country.
“If I’m elected, I guarantee that each and every one of you will reap the benefits of legislation that will protect the vital interests of our national heritage – the American farmland.”
While the candidate is making this pronouncement, he’s got a piece of straw dangling from his mouth, his thumb is hooked behind the suspenders of his overalls, and he’s picking sheaths of corn from the stalks. A few advance-men are handing out leaflets summarizing the candidate’s ten-point farm program to increase the farmer’s income by 150 percent by selling his crops to the Japanese in exchange for obsolete Sony Walkmen.
A day later, the same candidate is in a nursing home in Florida appealing to the patriotism of senior citizens.
“If I’m elected, I guarantee that each and every one of you will reap the benefits of legislation that will protect the vital interests of our national heritage – you old folks.
“When I was a boy I used to dream of the day when I would be as old as you. I used to put powder in my hair because I wanted it to be white. So, you see, I’m really one of you at heart. Let me tell you about my program to increase the number of older Americans in our great country.”
Two days later, our presidential candidate is holding court next to an open furnace inside a steel factory.
“You steel workers are the greatest resource our country has. If it weren’t for you, our ships wouldn’t sail the seven seas, our buildings wouldn’t be a hundred stories high, and our banks wouldn’t be storehouses for your cash.”
“I promise you legislation that will provide you with more of our nation’s wealth by eliminating the national monopoly of the wood and plastics industries.”
Three days later the candidate is addressing a group of teachers in a big northeastern city.
“While all the other candidates are wooing farmers, senior citizens and steel workers, who’s looking out for the interests of you teachers? I am, that’s who. For you teachers have to be proud of your heritage. When I was a boy, I had a teacher once. That teacher taught me about our great country and the dreams a young boy can dream.
“You teachers are the backbone of America, and when I’m elected I guarantee that each and every one of you will reap the benefits of legislation that will protect the vital interests of our national heritage – the American teacher.”
And two days later, the candidate is standing in front of an igloo in northern Alaska addressing four Eskimos, two penguins, six walruses and one seal.
“You Eskimos have to be proud of your heritage. You’re what America is all about. When I was a boy I used to sit on a block of ice and pretend I was in the frozen tundra leading a simple Eskimo life.
“Today I come here as one of you. And I will leave satisfied that I will enact legislation that will protect the vital interests of our national heritage – the American Eskimo.”
But two days later, our candidate is addressing cocktail waitresses in Las Vegas, and they are the “national heritage” group of the day, replacing farmers, senior citizens, steel workers, teachers and Eskimos. Well, if you’re not near the girl you love, you love the girl you’re near. Another week in the life of our next president.