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

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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.