In spite of my better judgment, I've watched a few of the presidential-aspirant "debates," which of course aren't debates, any more than "reality TV" is less scripted that other kinds of TV. The "debates" are question-and-answer sessions, as well as strange montages of candidates' faces. Also, the answers are, naturally, unrelated to the questions, except in the case of Ron Paul, who answers questions directly and tells the truth, as he sees it. He appears to be appealing rhetorically to people who can handle bad news and/or who share his libertarian views. In other words, he appears doomed to failure with regard to presidential politics. But then all of the candidates are thusly doomed, except for Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, and Mitt Romney. These candidates have all the money. McCain is comparatively low on money, but Giuliani and Romney are so bad that he still has a chance. Maybe Fred Thompson has a chance, too, but I doubt it. He doesn't look well, and he doesn't look as if his heart is in it. His lies are extremely half-hearted. One has to sell the untruth. He seems to believe his lines on Law and Order more than he believes his lines from his pre-debate briefings. As a politician, Reagan was much more professional at delivering lines than Thompson is.
The "race" on the democratic side is over, barring some kind of catastrophe. Obama and Edwards are done for. The others know for sure that they have already lost.
I think Giuliani will be the next president. I take no joy in making this prediction. He's a very disturbing, disturbed man.
At the same time, I don't believe who is president (from this "field" from both parties) matters much. "We" will get out of Iraq when the military and the large oil companies and the private contractors think we should. "We" will get "universal health-care" when large corporations think we should. The gap between rich and poor will continue to widen, no matter who wins the next election. The natural history of global warming, overpopulation, over-fishing, etc., will likely proceed apace. "Corporate person-hood," that disastrous concept, will continue to flourish. The Supreme Court will remain composed of insular, elite, idiosyncratic, self-important alchemists.
On the other hand, God works in mysterious ways. You just never know when something good might come out of something so obviously gone awry, structurally, as presidential politics. And the next president simply cannot be as much of a horrific parody-president as George W. Bush, who is a more awful president than Kurt Vonnegut or Mark Twain (consummate satirists) could have invented. GWB is a performance artist with virtually unlimited political and military power. He is a form of punishment inflicted on the U.S. (and the world) by the U.S. He is fascinatingly grotesque. The next president will be an improvement over George W. Bush. This is saying very little, but it is still good news. I think we need to accentuate the positive. Keep the faith, baby! Faith in what? Well, in whatever floats your boat. And think of all the people in American history who had it far, far worse than we have--but who nonetheless persisted, somehow, some way. As Langston Hughes says in one of his poems (speaking for many African Americans), "I'm still here." Have some laughs, and do somebody a good turn. Plant something--a tree, a tomato plant, whatever. Don't forget to water it. Keep on keeping on. Listen for the lies ALL politicians say, and don't believe them--the lies or the politicians.
In an alternate universe, the presidential aspirants would be asked interesting questions, and they would answer them. The following questions happen to be the ones I am most interested in having the aspirants answer, directly and truthfully--recognizing, of course, that no human can tell the complete truth. The questions are in no particular order. I encourage all poets (and citizens in general) to construct their own lists of questions, post them somewhere on the Internet, and send them to news outlets.
1. Who is one of your favorite poets and why?
2. Name one of your favorite poems and say briefly why you like it.
3. What is the most serious lie you have told in your life and to whom did you tell it?
4. Will you promise that, during the campaign, you will submit yourself to the most severe interrogation-techniques used by the CIA and other agencies and then report to us about your experience, suggesting whether you view these techniques to be a form of torture or not?
5. Will all of you please remove your shoes and socks and proceed to wash each other's feet? (Thank you.)
6. Please briefly outline your plan for re-distributing (with the assistance of the FCC and Congress) the ownership of media in the United States, all right?
7. Will you promise to make the annual budgets of the CIA and the NSA available to all taxpayers? If not, why not?
8. Who is the poorest person you know, where does she or he live, and how might we most effectively help him or her?
9. What do you dislike most about yourself?
10. Will you promise to dig the grave for or to help cremate the bodies of the next American soldier and next innocent Iraqi citizen killed in the war? If not, why not?