We need to overhaul the way we elect our presidents. The current system, where the campaigning lasts forever, is awful. I mean, the 2008 presidential race has been going on since 1994, and candidates interested in becoming president in 2016 have to start running now. It’s already too late to be considered for 2012.
The problem is that it’s too predictable. Since everyone knows there will be an election every four years, politicians anticipate that and start campaigning too far in advance. Could we somehow devise a system where no one knows ahead of time when there’s going to be an election? Maybe we should make it so that when a new president is elected, it’s for not a set length of time. Maybe once a year he has a performance review, and if his approval rating is above 50 percent he gets to stay another year, but if it’s less than 50 percent, he’s out. He’d have 30 days to pack up his stuff and take care of any last-minute pardons or invasions, and in the meantime we’d hurry up and elect someone to replace him. You’d have some perpetual candidates always sort of waiting in the wings, but they wouldn’t be actively campaigning until it was certain the current commander-in-chief was being ousted. And even then, the campaign would only last a month. I see no flaws whatsoever in this proposal, and I pledge to ignore any flaws that are pointed out to me.
Anything would be better than this never-ending primary season. The current presidential election is already annoying, and we don’t even know who the two candidates are yet. Before this year, did anyone even realize how many individual state primaries there were? OK, I guess we probably knew there were 50. But we never had to pay attention to them before! They would just happen in the background, and then the TV news people would finally tell us who the two candidates were, and then in November we would vote for whichever one belonged to the same party we did. It was simple.
This year is different. This year it’s coming down to the wire for the Democratic Party. Every single stupid individual state primary matters. And all the rancor between the two Democratic candidates is troubling. Just as some people think that war protests and political dissent in the homeland give comfort to the enemy overseas, I’m afraid the fighting between Clinton and Obama gives comfort to the Republicans. Not that Republicans are the “enemy,” of course, except in the sense that I don’t want their guy to win. John McCain is probably a decent fellow, and he was funny when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” a few years ago. But he seems too much like the current president, whose name escapes me at the moment, and I don’t want someone like that guy. I want somebody different.
On the other hand, I have resigned myself to the fact that the Democrats nearly always find a way to screw up seemingly un-screw-up-able situations. The Republicans are counting on this. They’ve followed their usual strategy — they’ve chosen the oldest, whitest man they can find to be their candidate — and now they just have to sit back and watch the Democrats somehow snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
As is usually the case in politics, most of the bickering is about dumb stuff. Unfortunately, dumb stuff happens to be what a lot of voters are most interested in. As an example, I cite the Jonesville Church of God in Jonesville, S.C., where the marquee last week had this message:
ARE THEY BROTHERS
(On the second line, by the way, that’s supposed to say “hmm.” The person who put up the marquee thinks, stupidly, that it’s spelled “humm.” This person probably also thinks that “yeah” is spelled “ya.” But all of this is beside the point.)
Idiocy and prejudice are not typically associated with South Carolina (state motto: “You Gonna Finish That Squirrel?”), so this incident garnered a lot of national attention.
WYFF-TV interviewed the pastor, Roger Byrd, who said the sign wasn’t meant to be political. It seems unnecessary to point that out; after all, why would anyone think a sign that draws a connection between a major political candidate and a terrorist with political motives was political? That’s a bit of a stretch.
Pastor Roger Byrd said:
“It’s simply to cause people to realize and to see what possibly could happen if we were to get someone in there [the White House] that does not believe in Jesus Christ.”
There’s a lot of failure in that sentence, so let’s look at it carefully.
1. Don’t be coy, Pastor Byrd: What COULD happen if we elected a president who doesn’t believe in Jesus Christ? Nearly all of our presidents so far have been Christians, it’s true, and most of them have been fine. But it’s worth noting that the two most recent presidents, despite being Christians, were also adulterers and/or liars and/or stubborn, intractable megalomaniacs. At this point, could a non-Christian be any worse?
Nonetheless, I realize this is a matter of great importance to many people. Pastor Byrd wants to make sure we elect a Christian president. Fine. That brings us to point #2, which is that…
2. Barack Obama IS a Christian, you pig-ignorant hillbilly!
The TV station asked Pastor Byrd if he thought Obama was a Muslim. Byrd’s response was:
“I don’t know. See it asks a question: Are they brothers? In other words, is he Muslim? I don’t know. He says he’s not. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know.”
You see, folks, this is the difference between ignorant and stupid. An ignorant person is simply unaware of the facts. For example, I am ignorant of the inner workings of the gall bladder, or the British Parliament. Stupid takes it a step further. A stupid person, such as Pastor Byrd, is dimwitted, unable to follow simple logical threads, incapable of grasping basic information. A stupid person is not only ignorant, but also lacks the capacity to overcome his ignorance by learning.
Pastor Byrd thinks it’s possible that Barack Obama is secretly a Muslim. How does he think Obama has so successfully hidden this fact from people? Does he not think that photographers might have caught him slipping into a mosque now and then, or bowing toward Mecca five times daily? You can secretly be a lot of things, but Muslim is not one of them.
Then there’s the question of WHY he would be going to such elaborate lengths to hide his Muslim faith. What’s his game plan? If Pastor Byrd weren’t dumber than a barrel of batteries and incapable of rational thought, I would assume that this is what he thought was going through Obama’s head:
“My plan has almost come to fruition! I will soon win the election, and then, on Inauguration Day, I will peel off this tailored suit to reveal a loose-fitting robe, place a turban upon my head, and laugh maniacally as I announce my plans for America! First on the agenda: fly airplanes into all the nation’s skyscrapers! Then I will put a veil on the Statue of Liberty! Then comes the carving of Louis Farrakhan’s face into Mount Rushmore! And finally, a public stoning of Hillary Clinton! Mwa-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”
The root of the problem here is that Pastor Byrd is dumb, and dumb people think that the similarity between the names Obama and Osama is significant. He said it himself: “His name is so close to Osama, I have a feeling he might be Islamic.” Let’s think about this, though. Let’s think real hard. Humm. Roger Byrd … any relation to John William Byrd, executed in 2002 for murdering a convenience store clerk? Are Roger Byrd and the murderer John William Byrd brothers???
What about murderer Robert Franklin Stroud — aka the Birdman of Alcatraz? Any relation to Roger Byrd?
Pastor Roger Byrd says he’s not connected to any of these people. I hope he’s not. But I don’t know. I’m just asking the question. I think there’s a good chance that Pastor Roger Byrd is closely associated with these murderers and statutory rapists. If he happens to read this column — I’m sorry — if someone happens to read this column to him, and uses some pictures or simple line drawings to explain the more difficult passages, and if he would then like to come forward with evidence that he is NOT a murderer or rapist, I will be glad to listen — although, really, saying he’s not a murderer or rapist is exactly what you would expect a murderer or rapist to say.
Byrd claimed to be mystified by all the attention his sign got, and even said that his church had voted unanimously to keep the sign up. Then, a day later, after getting a lot of harassment from all over the country, he went ahead and changed it anyway. I can’t believe the entire congregation went along with him, though. If that’s true, it doesn’t speak well of his flock. I mean, what kind of person listens to their pastor say something outrageous and offensive without publicly renouncing him?
This kind of pettiness takes up way too much time. The more we get distracted by idiots like Pastor Byrd, the less time there is to concentrate on the important issues — things like fixing the economy, ending the war in Iraq, and making fun of how old John McCain is. The man is well into his 90s, and yet you hardly ever hear about it! We’re so busy focusing on the Clinton vs. Obama battle that we forget to mention how McCain runs a “Matlock” fan site, or how one summer when he was in college he worked as a roadie for Beethoven, or how if he’s elected president he won’t give the neighbor kids’ baseballs back to them when they hit them onto the White House lawn. The Democrats need to settle their business and get back to the matter at hand: figuring out a way to lose to McCain in November.
This is two rather political columns in a row (three, if China hosting the Olympics counts as politics), which isn't my normal routine. I was just going to post a blog entry about the church marquee, but as I was writing, it sort of evolved into more of a "Snide Remarks" column. I think the tipping point was when I felt compelled to make up a state motto for South Carolina. Why waste "You Gonna Finish That Squirrel?" on a blog entry? Special thanks to my old pal Smacky for helping me come up with Secret Muslim Obama's presidential to-do list.
WYFF's stories about the sign are here and here. The second one includes a video that was the source of the screen-grabs I used. Watching the video, you'll see that my impersonation of Pastor Byrd in the SnideCast isn't terribly exaggerated.
SnideCast intro: "The Name Game," Shirley Ellis; outro: "Dueling Banjos," Eric Weissberg & Steve Mandel.