Slap my forearm and call me a junkie. Every morning, I hose off, wrap myself in a towel and try not to sit down at my computer. Every morning, late for work or not, I fail. I have to know. What's old so-and-so up to? Which blogger's crying foul this week? What specks of dirt did reporters manage to scrape from under what's-her-face's fingernails?
It's getting to be too much for even me, googly-eyed fiend that I am. No longer am I speaking loudly to my monitor at work, alerting the entire hallway to the latest political outrage. When friends and family start talking presidential races, I try to disengage without being rude.
I'm black and blue—as in burnt and glowing after too much time starting at a screen. Lots of people have probably felt this way for weeks. I'm just behind. Why mention it here, yet again? Because all the political drama steals the news cycle away from everything else.
Wall Street's burning. Ike trashed Texas. And ... I don't know what else happened in the country. You know why? Because one out of every two headlines has a presidential or vice presidential candidate’s name in it. If all your information, God forbid, came solely from the media, you'd only ever know what one of three people thought about anything.
You remember the war,
I won't even type their names here, because I'm just so sick of seeing them. Instead, let's use the words spellchecker suggests as replacements when (47 times a day) I run it on a document with their names in it: Moccasin, Abeam and Plain. (Abeam, by the way, is an adverb that means "at right angles to the keel of a ship," according to dictionary.com.)
Yes, choosing the "leader of the free world" is an important task that merits a deluge of reports. But after interviewing a bunch of nonvoters for this week's feature ["I'm Not Going to Vote," page 20], the thrill is gone. They were the bucket of cold reality I needed splashed over my head. These questions, this coverage, the circus—they’re not actually telling us anything valuable about Moccasin, Abeam and Plain, are they?
I can no longer crack out on daily political reports under the pretense that I'm trying to learn something about our future leaders. I was a member of the cheering hoard at the coliseum, and I wanted to see who would still have all four limbs at the end of the match. Each news story is a swipe. Every campaign response a parry. And the coverage is so intense that, for instance, I don't even know what's going on in Iraq anymore. You remember the war, don't you? The national media outlets cannot afford to drop the ball on scrutinizing the war effort yet again.
But they will continue to ignore the war until the ballots are in, contested, recounted, haggled over and finalized. In the meantime, I’ll be checking non-American news sources for info on our war, the one those same three candidates are using as a talking point in their exhausting media-frenzied rampage toward the White House.