Hi, Happy New Year. So, last night I was walking to Marvin, the recently opened Marvin Gaye-themed Belgian/Soulfood restaurant and bar here in D.C., with my friend Dana (not Dana Milbank, Dana Bash or Dana Priest). We were talking about the utterly fascinating contest that's shaping up on both sides in the race for the White House.
I don't know why, but seemingly everyone is talking nonstop about the race here in the D of C. I mean, "What's Going On"? Dana noted that her cabby had rolled out a lengthy and well-considered discourse on why Barack would never win. I had just come from a work happy hour where everyone was talking about Iowa and New Hampshire. Washington's a real community where everyone cares... about politics.
As we walked, I started to tell my friend how much fun I was having with my first presidential election in D.C.
But then I stopped and remembered that this isn't my first time.
I did an internship at the United States Information Agency (now defunct; not my fault) in D.C. in fall 1992. And I remember all the secretaries had black-and-white Xerox copies of this piece of crude decoupage depicting two muscle men in Speedos, standing close to each other, with Bill Clinton and Al Gore's faces pasted on them. That's right, Al Gore was once considered a sexy guy, long before the left-wing media carved him to ribbons before our eyes in 2000. And, yes, by hanging these flyers in their cubicles, the secretaries appear to have been in violation of the Hatch Act. Maybe not, I don't know. It seemed questionable to me even at the time, and looking back I can't believe they got away with it.
Needless to say, Bill Clinton was the only "sexy" president of the last 45 years, and the only one about whose sex life and underwear preference we've known anything (and TMI at that). He played the sax and didn't inhale. How could old man Bush compete with this swinging Boomer? In the end, everyone from my grandparents to my younger brother handed their votes, bashfully, to Mr. Clinton.
Now 15 years later we've got Barack Obama leading the pack for the moment, locked in combat with the very wife of that long-ago pinup boy.
All comparisons are invidious, I know. But I'll be curious to see the unfolding semiotics of Barack Obama's candidacy, now that Photoshop has grown up and we've got viral e-mails and YouTube and Facebook groups and so many new media. What in the world will the secretaries paste Obama's head on? Will he pick a sexy running mate, if it gets that far?
Someone, some consultant, said that the bottom line is we vote for who we like. Do people like Barack in "that way"? Will voters say: Hey Barack, "Let's Get It On"? Or, instead: Hey Barack, you've "Got to Give It Up (Part 1)"?