By Carl Sundberg
January 15, 2004
With the presidential election looming, it's safe to assume that we will have someone running our country into the ground again. Whether it's George W. Bush or some other smirking fool remains to be seen.
Bush doesn't seem too fazed by all the bashing and cursing of the American people or the Democratic Party. He is either gearing up for his trip to Mars or too busy planning an overhaul of the election process again.
After all, someone has to start sorting out which multi-national corporation is going to back a third party that will split the Democratic vote. But given the current state of the Democratic candidates, that third-party plan might not even need to take shape.
With the Democratic candidates looking less like presidential hopefuls and more like angry monkeys throwing feces at each other, it's really not a stretch to say that King George will reign for another four years. If the Democrats were smart--and it's slowly starting to show that they are not--they would do the right thing: use the lesson learned in the farce and infotainment extravaganza that was last year's California recall and bring in celebrity politicians, or more accurately, "celebiticians."
Sure, it might have sounded strange just last year to think this, but if you think back, celebrities have filled political positions many times in our recent past. Sonny Bono, Jesse "the Body" Ventura and Ronald Reagan were all in the limelight before they ever saw their name gleaming on a ballot. And really, if Arnold Schwarzenegger can be a governor, this whole political thing can't be that difficult.
Setting up a proper environment, one that will enable the celebitician to thrive, is the only thing that needs to be done. There are rules to this process, after all.
First, the political hopeful can't be a porn star, a midget or a watermelon-smashing comedian. This was the hidden lesson learned from the California election.
Second, the celebrity must be famous today, not someone the world has forgotten. For instance, Burt Reynolds, Tony Danza or anyone from the cast of "Saved by the Bell" won't work. You need someone who is either in a current blockbuster summer action movie or frequents grocery store magazine covers. For example, Ben Affleck might work because every man, woman and child in America knows who he is. But he's not right for public office. He's got far too much to worry about with keeping J.Lo out of bad movies (so far he's 0 for 2).
Third, the celebitician must have the suave persona that Americans cherish; someone that can lie to us with authority and vigor.
And finally, if nothing else was learned from the California recall, one lesson remains: politics are a joke. Anyone who says otherwise is most likely a politician.
With these rules in mind, and with great consideration, the only person that seems to clearly stand out for the position of Democratic presidential hopeful is none other than Jon Stewart, host of "The Daily Show." He fits all the criteria of celebitician: He is in our short-sighted collective unconscious, he's been on magazine covers and he's not a porn star. The man's wit knows no end, which tames the final criteria of being a politician: being able to make us laugh.
Surely, the argument is beginning to form in your head. You may be asking yourself, "What other credentials does this man have?" The answer is simple: none. He has no presidential credentials. But did Schwarzenegger? No. All he needed was to spout off lines from his movies, and he won with a landslide.
If Jon Stewart told a few jokes each time he stood behind a podium, that would be all he would need. Make a few empty promises and finish with a punch line. In a debate, Stewart would knock Bush around like a shoe in a dryer. The crowd would roar and rush to the ballot booths. George W. Bush wouldn't stand a chance.
After Stewart is elected, his Cabinet might consist of such names as Bill Maher starring as vice president, Martin Sheen as secretary of state, Robert DeNiro as attorney general, Nicole Kidman as secretary of education and The Rock as secretary of defense.
This is not to say that the new Democratic rule would be a success in terms of the economy, medical benefits or education, but this country has seen worse. At least with an all-star cast running the country, politics might be interesting enough for the average American to wake up and care.
Originally published in the Oregon Daily Emerald