THE BLOG
02/22/2008 09:17 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Politics By Ordeal

What is this foolishness? Obama is pure and not a politician and Hillary is "tainted"?

Does anyone get to be a presidential candidate in our country without being a politician?

Does anyone run for political office -- a humiliating and exhilarating marathon -- without wanting power more than sleep?

Come on. Get real. You and I could never endure the punishment of debates, of columnists who don't fact-check, of swift-boaters, of dumb pundits and corrupt colleagues, without the lust for power being the overriding emotion in your life.

I do a book tour of six cities and come down with the flu -- and I'm pretty strong and healthy. I can hardly imagine what candidates go through. Yes, they fly on private jets. Yes, they don't take their shoes off at the airport, but they don't sleep either. I'm amazed they can even croak a coherent sentence.

I once did a lecture tour of Australia and New Zealand with bronchitis and laryngitis. I caught it in Hong Kong, I think, and it lingered for three weeks. My voice barely functioned. But I spoke anyway. And I signed hundreds of books after every appearance. Once I got home, I took to my bed for two weeks. The jet lag was awful and the bronchitis turned into a resistant infection. No antibiotic worked. I was silenced for six weeks and my vocal chords still have their off days.

How do these candidates do it? I still can't understand. They must be bionic. By the end of a book tour, I'm so sick of answering questions about myself that I start to interview the journalists about what they like to do in their spare time -- skiing, sailing, snowboarding, golf? The intensity of being interviewed by hostile reporters is absolutely exhausting. No wonder people misspeak. It's amazing they don't throttle the press. And the public. By the time they get in office they must hate the public. Why do we put them through this torture? Shouldn't they be thinking about governance, coming up with new ideas for the commonweal rather than being flogged by the press?

This is no way to audition for "the most powerful job on earth." I doubt that the ordeal helps anyone -- neither the candidates nor the public.

And is it really the most powerful job on earth? The way our country is going -- with our deficit, our plunging dollar, our $100 oil, we are becoming a banana republic, ruled by corporations that deceive us and buy our politicians.

Where is this pure politician? In your dreams, folks, in your dreams.