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A Superficial Take on Politically Historical Events as Perceived While Watching CNN and MSNBC

Posted: 01/06/09 10:55 AM ET

Just to let you know, I'm not a person anybody would necessarily describe as politically astute. I usually withhold opinion, leaving all discussion and analysis to those who pay closer attention. Nevertheless, over this past summer, while I watched the drama of the Democratic National Convention unfold on cable T.V., I found myself suddenly filled with inspiration... and, for the first time maybe ever, with a strong point of view.

And my point of view was this: with that assemblage of candidates and delegates as fired-up and energized and righteous-feeling as they all had to've been, I got to thinking that not just Denver, but the entire Rocky Mountain swath of America must have been nothing short of a rockin' hotbed of rapturous hypersexuality.

All those gaga, cheering, fanatically dedicated party- supporters, brought together for a common cause--to nominate their choice for Leader of the Free World? What an ideal place to hook up! Right?

The level of communal spirit and the sexual frenzy must've been absolutely through the roof. I imagine the carnal climate in and around the Mile High City as randier than at a Roman Orgy--like the episode "Entourage" went to Cannes; libidos as unbridled and irresponsible as Whistler during gay ski-week.

Okay... moving forward to September--when the media were deliberating, "Is Obama too cool?" and McCain announced he would be suspending his campaign in order that he could help Washington solve the Wall Street crisis. At home, tucked snugly into my overstuffed sofa in front of the T.V., I was getting it all on cable again, trying to commit to memory information central to the mortgage crisis as well as the latest developments pertaining to the ongoing Presidential campaign. But the potential for the steamy stuff continued to get in the way. I kept thinking that, with everybody in D.C. jockeying for political advantage and frantic about the Bailout Bill, how hot would it be to jet over to Capitol Hill for a happy-hour hang with some of the local bureaucrats at a dark but lively Pennsy Avenue pub?

No, I'm not saying that getting laid is always the overriding agenda at every major political event. My point is that when everybody's all drunk on America and patriotically worked up the way practically the whole country's been lately, there's a pretty good chance that you or I, should either of us be so inclined, could have at our fingertips endless opportunities to engage salaciously with any number of hot, sexy--preferably single--senators, legislators, correspondents, journalists, strategists, pundits, delegates, on down the line to the most muscularly-fit members of the security staff. Most of these politicos and policy wonks (whose physical appearance in almost any other arena would be considered, at best, "professorial") would, under the umbrella of whatever random big-time historical event, suddenly emanate the sensual appeal of Jon Bon Jovi during his 1986 "Slippery When Wet" tour.

What the hell is a pundit anyway? Google later.

In any case, while frustratingly tuned in to CNN over the course of this past summer and fall, I was struck by the way this network tends day and night to prattle endlessly about the Situation Room. And mid-prattle every time, just as Wolf Blitzer is about to take us into the Situation Room...he throws to commercial! "More when we come back."

"Obama's ties to Bill Ayers. Another Swiftboat tactic by the GOP? Find out more after this!" Back from the commercial, the only "more" we're served up is more of Wolf saying, "I'm Wolf Blitzer and this is the Situation Room." Wait--what's Swiftboating?! I believe I'VE been Swiftboated. By Wolf Blitzer and CNN!

On a personal note, it finally occurred to me somewhere around last Spring that at least part of the reason I find myself continually dating self-centered, narcissistic men is that they rarely, if ever, want to talk about anything other than themselves--which, I admit, conveniently excludes from consideration such touchy topics as me...or politics (two areas of conversation it's been my lifelong habit to avoid at all costs. I believe it was Socrates who reminded us, "The uninformed life is easily worth living.") But, recently, I made a commitment to myself that I'd start trying to be more knowledgeable about current events so that my contribution to political discussions could someday comprise something beyond my usual, teenage-like, "Ugh--Bush. What an idiot."

Meantime, my fantasy resurfaces: me inside my own Congressman's neo- traditional Georgetown graystone--a wild scene of passionate, out-of-control (but, of course, well informed) lovemaking. As he whispers sweet, inside-information into my ear, I surreptitiously consult my iPhone's browser: "Acorn is the name of a reform organization--not a hard, painful callus which generally forms on the pinky toe." Noted!

As the meshing of our two like-minds and kindred spirits further and further fuels the passion, I imagine, forming a crumpled heap on the hardwood floor, his Ermenegildo Zegna suit and my short, flirty fall/winter number tossed aside in erotic urgency...his red power-tie entwined with my black-lace La Perla Bra, both wrapped around and then cascading down the curved legs of his Rococo armchair in an artfully seductive abstraction. What steadfast, patriotic, hot-blooded American in his or her right mind wouldn't want a part of this high-mindedly sensual romp?! Who could resist?

In any case, I'm now back at home intently watching MSNBC for news, sound bytes, rhetoric--hoping against hope to hear something I'm capable of retaining long enough to regurgitate it the next time a social opportunity presents itself.

I recite with the diligence of a four-year-old being briefed by Big Bird: "Ma-MOOD Ahma-deeen-u-jad," "Khalid Sheik MU-hammed," "Mikhail Schwartzkoff-zeelie--?" I'm trying, I'm trying! What--I'm not supposed to be alarmed by the unnatural, exaggerated arch of Nancy Pelosi's brow? This Triscuit's eyes pop open so wide when she speaks--is she talking about the doomed economy or telling us a ghost story? On the other hand, maybe the economy is the ghost story.

And is it not befitting that I find my attention challenged each time I catch a glimpse of Chris Matthew's Halloween-blonde hair? It's scary! Plus, his shirt collar is so tight, it digs into his Adam's apple and causes the skin around his neck to spill over like an upper-deck muffin-top. Don't get me wrong--I really like the guy. I'm just distracted by all this distracting stuff.

"Quickly, panel," Matthews urges. "The Bailout Bill--a Hail Mary pass by Paulson? You each have thirty seconds. Fifteen seconds. Three! This is 'Hardball'!"

Wait--Doug Flutie? Boston College!

Nooooo--not another break!

I move to my computer, feverishly googling for clarifications of the outpourings of rhetoric uttered but never fully explained by these chatty, opinionated, love-to-hear-themselves-talk-as-they-say-virtually-nothing pundits. "Pundit: an expert...one who analyzes events." Got it. And..."Rhetoric: the art of speaking or writing effectively." I read some examples of "rhetoric" and memorize those, too. I promise myself, next time I'm at a cocktail party and find myself sandwiched between the hors d'oeuvre table and a self-righteous political chatterbox, I'll be able to reply intelligently to his rhetoric.

"If Obama believes in evolution, then how could he believe in God?" the chatterbox may say, and then look my way for an opinion.

Normally, I'd respond with a calculated distraction, designed to change the subject to something I'm more comfortable with--like my loser ex-boyfriends, say, or my disdain for Pinkberry Yogurt--or dip a pita crisp into the Baba Ghanouj and then utter something cute in the vein of "Well, McCain's upper lip doesn't budge when he speaks. Just his bottom lip moves. He looks like a ventriloquist's puppet."

In fact, both Bush and McCain have no lips. And Bill Clinton's not much better. Forgive my digression, but all of these former Party leaders' mouths look like torn pockets. Pita-pocket mouth. Truly, there hasn't been a decent set of lips in the White House since Jimmy Carter's. I can't take another four years of watching yet another lame-lipped President on T.V. I'm so happy Obama's going to be new Commander in Chief, if for no other reason than sheer aesthetics.

Anyway, back to the news: I used to take it all in... then immediately forget everything. But from now on, I intend to be more focused. And more confident. "Well," I can see myself saying, "Perhaps you can accept evolution as science, as being the most compelling explanation for biological diversity, and yet also accept the idea that God works through evolution."

And before my interlocutor has a chance for rebuttal, I continue, "Besides, President Bush is a perfect example for Ms. Palin and all the creationists that Darwinism is not just a theory. That Dubya is one ugly primate... albeit one who is more-or-less upright and has been known to perform many simple tasks." There you go--Rhetoric 101!

Which brings up another point: how did Rachel Maddow get to be so smart?

Could it be that my inability to retain and understand politics derives from my upbringing? I was raised in a small mining town in Arizona, home and hotbed of "The Arizona Republic," a news organ I don't believe has won any major journalism awards. Regardless, my dad eagerly absorbed this rag top-to-bottom and front-to-back every morning at the breakfast table... along with his hot cup of scotch. I'm guessing that Rachel and her dad read the New York Times together... that Mr. Maddow listened to his outspoken little daughter's intelligent rants... and that he didn't use torture-tactics any time she may've, say, left a light on or scorched the pancakes.

Back in my apartment in Koreatown, I fall asleep with the T.V. blaring, hoping some information will seep into my unconscious like those positive- thinking subliminal tapes purport they can do. Instead, I'm jarred from my already restless dozing every seven minutes by loudmouth Larry King proudly heralding his next commercial-break. So insistent. And so many decibels! In the middle of Bill Clinton's answers about the Global Initiative, like Gloria Swanson ready for her close-up, Larry turns to the camera, "More about Bill and his stump after this." "That and more when we come back." But, once again, what we return to "after this" is nothing!

Speaking of stumps, how many times do we need to hear about Cialis?! Believe me, if we need it, we know where to get it. Are the only people still awake in the wee hours, I'm wondering, me and a bunch of guys who can't get it up? I could call them. "Hey, I'm up. Are you?"

"Joe Biden--does he smile too much? Stay where you are!"

"More breaking news, but first this!"

Wolf Blitzer promises to tell us whatever it is he's supposed to tell us when we get back. It's now five a.m., and I still know nothing about anything! And I'm starting to get the idea it isn't just me.

I'm on the "internets" looking up "foreign policy" when a comedian friend, a right-wing, neo-con, nut-job, calls.

"Do you know that 67% of the media is liberal-biased?"

"Not a big deal. You can watch the other 33% on Fox. I have to hang up now." Like Sarah Palin, I'm memorizing my opinions.

Two weeks before the presidential election, the $50 donation I made to the Obama campaign has led to a flurry of e-mails from barrackobama.com asking me to "volunteer for change." I'm thinking that with campaign-fury running rampant not only throughout the nation, but also right here in my very own neighborhood, why not hop over to Morgan Freeman's production office in Santa Monica which, word has it, is the hottest, hippest place to enlist. An effective and affordable chance to impact change beyond my community while taking advantage of the opportunity to head out to the terrace, let's say, with my cell phone and hunker down on a chaise-lounge next to a sexy, fellow-progressive, fellow-phonebanker. What a way to connect!

I imagine the two of us making calls to voters in the battleground states. I'd tap him on the shoulder. "Is it Missour-ee or Missour-a?"

What would be more thrilling, I continue to fantasize, than talking about politics at the snack table while we munch on Power Bars, so enthralled with each other's wit and insight that we find ourselves compulsively sneaking into the supply room for one of those rare and rather enjoyable we're-definitely-on-the- same-page quickies where a couple of warm-blooded volunteers do some real mobilizing?

Back to placing phone-calls. Due to the high volunteer-turnout, I'm now sitting on the cold concrete in the corner of the stairwell, sandwiched between an uppity woman in tights and a disheveled middle-aged newspaper hoarder with dirty shoelaces. A team-leader announces, "Charge your cell phones, everybody. Headquarters wants us to flood Arapahoe County. Let's turn Colorado blue!"

On this glorious day, less than a week before the election, resounding cheers from the gathered Obama supporters who then begin to chant, "Yes we can!" With the kind of relentless zeal I'm guessing Michael Phelps pours into his arm-stroke, each of us grabs a phone-sheet and continues dialing!

The potential downside of hooking up with a dedicated campaign-volunteer is that there is a high probability that he's unemployed. But, then again, so am I! Okay, scratch that opinionated, cynical point of view...let's just exploit--I mean, embrace--the opportunity to find romance while simultaneously promoting a most worthwhile cause! Inspired by our communal joy, let's rejoice, invoking the immortal words of the great Rodney King, "Can't we all just get it on?"

"Hi, my name is Jann. I'm a volunteer with Barack Obama's campaign," I proudly announce on the phone. "I'm calling to see if you're planning to cast your vote for Senator Obama on Tuesday." I'm tickled by yet another whimsical possibility: making a love connection over the phone with an Obama voter! At home, as the election draws nearer, I'm engrossed. It's four in the morning and I'm studiously re-listening to one of the speeches Obama delivered while out on the stump. "Stump: a place or an occasion used for political or campaign oratory." Exactly right!

The next morning, while taking a shower, and even later while standing on line for my coffee at The Daily Grind (I secretly hope I'll be overheard), I softly chant Obama's creed--channeling his inspirational tone: "Knock on some doors for me! Make some calls for me!"

Saturday before Tuesday the Fourth, Obama's warning to us that we should "not believe for one minute that this election is over" does not go unheeded; the super-phonebanking center at Culver Studios as well the one in Santa Monica is S.R.O. "We have to work as though our future depends on it these last few days, because it does." And so we do. We work as though our future depends on it. I forge ahead: one eye on my phone sheet, the other scanning the room for available sexy associates.

On Election Day, we continue to call voters until 6:00 p.m., PST. And after sundown, everyone who's helped with the campaign over the past few months, and even those who haven't, begin to file in for the big election "party." I'm now more sandwiched than ever. And speaking of sandwiches... no chance of getting one anytime soon--the lines for the buffet are nearly as long as the FEMA queues after Katrina! (I'm exaggerating... but not by much.)

Anyway, I'm being pushed, jostled, and squeezed by the crowd--it's all quite inadvertent, of course; nothing naughty or remotely fun about it. Not only would I prefer not to intermingle with half these people, worse, I can't position myself anywhere remotely near a single one of the countless T.V.'s which have been mounted on nearly every wall and in every corner. I gotta get outta here! I want to watch--I want to savor--each play-by-play of the election returns as it is offered up by Chris and Keith and all of my other friends at MSNBC.

So I drive home. And as I'm en route, my right-wing friend from Arizona calls in a panic: "McCain is about to concede." "What?" "It's true. Obama won Ohio." History in the making... and I'm by myself stuck in L.A. traffic.

Barack Obama, our new Commander in Chief. I never foresaw that it'd happen so fast... it wasn't even eight o'clock! People at the phonebanking center, I'm imagining, have got to be out of their minds with jubilation. Everything we've been working for all these months, that organized chaos of celebratory communal feeling that I've longed to experience my entire life (and came close only once, at a bar in New York City the night the Mets won the '86 World Series)--it's now happening practically around the corner. And I'm missing it! Such a shame.

Wasn't it my need for this kind of oneness, this once-in-a-generation surge of human closeness that prompted me not only to become more informed about politics, but also to volunteer in the first place? It's great, it's glorious, it's beyond sexual--and I'm missing it!

At home, in front of my T.V., I review the election returns: Obama wins North Carolina... Iowa... Florida. "Hey, I talked to scores of voters in more than one of those places!" Selfishly, I wonder if any of my calls had had an impact, to even the tiniest extent. With no way to know for certain, I decide to believe they had.

I was alone in my living room, but hope and exhilaration were in the air as I sat watching the thousands upon thousands of jubilant Obama supporters who'd gathered nationwide...to say nothing of the rest of the world's millions who came together that night to celebrate the most significant political event of my lifetime.

Yes: the most significant historical event of my lifetime... and I'm at home. BY MYSELF! Shouldn't I be commemorating this historical milestone in some sort of less solitary manner?

Hugging and high-five-ing strangers, woo-hooing and dancing with my peers on the fields of Grant Park, the streets of Times Square, the National Mall in D.C.? Doesn't my patriotic duty require that I insinuate myself into one of these crowds, or some other delirious gathering somewhere--a bistro in Paris, a penthouse in Dubai, a happy hamlet in Kenya (or maybe another of Governor Palin's supposed African "continents")?

I ought to be locking lips with an assembly-line of handsome bar-hoppers, tumbling onto the ground with an overheated virile villager! Chanting and cheering, fully engaged in uninhibited euphoric exaltation! My obligation during this "defining moment" certainly is to be somewhere--anywhere!--with someone--anyone!--making wild, passionate love, the kind only a triumph of this magnitude could evoke.

The party's in full swing, but I'm not swinging. The ship is sailing, but I'm on my couch... as opposed to, say, nestled in a yurt somewhere in Central Asia, and, at the very least, smooching! Wait for me, everybody--I want my victory hug! "Don't despair, Jann. After all, this whole campaign's been about hope," I eventually remind myself. "Why not just pop over to D.C. for the Inauguration? There you can join in the festivities and reclaim your own, personal American dream." Yes, I can!

Wow: D.C. on Inauguration Day--talk about a Gomorrah of amped-up, wall-to-wall sexual vibes! All the pre- and post-galas, the after-and- before beer-busts, and all that ball-hopping? I'd have the time of my previously apolitical life! And now that the playing field has widened, with so many new zealots having joined the Democratic Party, I'm daydreaming (once again) of endless escapades in luxury, five-star suites and frat-house style condos with my choice of news junkies, bloggerheads, Obamacans. I might even have a go at it with a frisky finance quant!

Sadly, my pocketbook, along with the rest of America's, is in economic crisis. (No I can't.) And so it's with bittersweet resolve that I resign myself to Plan B. I imagine I'll tuck myself in for the night. A carefully arranged assorted cheese plate beside me on my comfy couch, along with both Gala apple and Asian pear slices, some crusty baguettes and a sumptuous glass of buttery California Chard--with just a hint of oak--I settle in to enjoy the televised festivities unfold from the very spot that my politico-romantic fantasies began so many months ago.

In the meantime, Anderson, Larry, Soledad, Mika, Joe, Keith, Rachel, the two gals with the really straight hair, and all the other reporters, pundits, et al, will continue, relentlessly, to bring us countless more worthy and unworthy news stories... and then apprise us they'll "be right back."

And as Pat and Chris analyze and re-analyze the Bernie Madoff scheme, I think of a joke I might be able to tell at my upcoming Chinese Buffet/Comedy Show at the Jewish temple in Calabasas on Christmas Eve. "Hey, if you have the Mushuu, better skip the Ponzi sauce. Don't you guys know by now to stay away from Pyramids?"

And, when Andrea Mitchell reports, "Laura Bush was not amused when the Iraqi reporter threw his shoes at the President," ("Yeah," I'm thinking. "She's upset the size 10 leather oxfords missed her numb nuts husband's head.") I realized that--miraculously--I'd suddenly become more interested in U.S. and world news than whether or not veteran journalist/commentator/writer Mitchell had had a face- lift. Or Botox. Or both. I'm pretty sure it's both. It's both, right?

And while we're on the subject of cosmetic enhancement, it's obvious that, along with the cause for the failed economy, this is another procedure her husband, Alan Greenspan, has myopically overlooked.

I am now more interested in politics than I am in the extraordinary realization that I hadn't seen one politically relevant person on T.V. these past few months that I'd want to sleep with (with the possible exception of Henry Ford Jr. and a couple of spirited liberals whose names I didn't have time to read on the scrolls, much less memorize).

Personally, I find especially repellant those conservative, Country-First, combover nerds who predominated at the Republican National Convention, as they do on Meet the Press, in the halls of the Capitol Building, and, it goes without say, on Fox. Perhaps these guys ought to've funneled some of Governor Palin's wardrobe budget toward their own personal makeovers. Jeez--I've seen better fashion at an Evangelical convention in Missour-a. Hey, boys--heads up! Bipartisan opinion: eyeglass lanyards? Giant turn-off.

About my initial impulse, fantasizing about romantic encounters at conventions, town-hall meetings, rallies, inaugurations and whatnot: blame it on the fact that I'm single and live in a hetero-male-barren community. I'm not saying every guy in Los Angeles is gay. I'm just saying that, it seems to me, based on data culled over years of dating in this town, there's only one thing that separates gay from straight--and that's courage.

You may disagree with me on some, or even all, of my "rhetoric." And that's okay. While I was googling, I read up on the First Amendment. Which got me thinking back on the Founding Fathers: I wonder what kind of underwear those colonial George Clooney-cuties wore at the first Continental Congress? Vintage Calvin Klein, I'm guessing. You have to figure Ben Franklin was a maniac at all the after-parties. That's the way I like to picture him, anyway.

I'm Jann Karam.

More after this.