This presidential election is turning out to be a very unique one -- it's extremely boring. So far, it's as exciting as watching a curling event.
Due to the extreme polarization of both the Democratic and Republican parties and the corresponding continuous, animated expression of the extremist political rhetoric by commentators in the mainstream media and talk radio, this presidential race is one where Americans are voting against one of the candidates rather than for either Mitt Romney or President Obama.
This said, you would think with a few weeks left, this presidential cycle would have been more controversial at this point, and that both candidates would have dropped the gloves already.
But both the campaigns have been relatively subdued in their approach.
The president has adopted basically a laid back strategy similar to Nixon's Rose Garden strategy employed against a very weak George McGovern in 1972. And Romney has spent too much time also playing it safe, abysmally failing to throw out any idea or present a contradictory image changer that may do damage to an opponent with tremendous vulnerabilities.
The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza wrote in his "The Fix" column this week that "Aside from the seemingly endless string of "gaffes" allegedly committed by each candidate and the inspirational convention speech not delivered by either nominee... this has been a general election to forget. Literally."
But don't despair. Fox commentator Bill O'Reilly and Comedy Central's Jon Stewart are teaming up to fill that void of boredom and exploit their own respective brands by holding a "Rumble in the Air Conditioned Auditorium" on October 6 in Washington, D.C.
O'Reilly and Stewart, who have already dueled numerous times over political issues on both their shows, are taking their respective mixtures of smug cynicism and showmanship a la Jesse Ventura to the next, more profitable level of a pay per-view event moderated by CNN's anchor E.D.Hill. The debate format will first feature 60 minutes of tête-à-tête between O'Reilly and Stewart, and then a question and answer period with their audience.
Where once smart political analysis of presidential races was centered in academia, editorial rooms and television newsrooms, over the last 20 years, such important punditry has been eclipsed by the rise of talk radio hosts and cable news hosts with disc jockey backgrounds. Folks such as O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, and Glenn Beck and stand up comedians like Stewart, Bill Maher, and Dennis Miller are far more entertaining and useful in stimulating higher ratings and advertising dollars for media conglomerates.
With this "Rumble," the nasty news ranting of these political DJs that has succeeded in setting the tone of today's political acrimony is now actually taking center stage, eclipsing the upcoming presidential debates and election and its boring discourse.
So for the low cost of $4.95, the American electorate can treat itself with a far more entertaining substitute debate designed not to inform, but to rake in the dough and offer "punch" lines that make for a convoluted brew of political irony and comedy. Think of the millions that both O'Reilly and Stewart will make as bored Americans desperately swipe their credit cards and turn to these showmen for some exciting political dialogue.
Talk about exploiting the bored masses.
The least O'Reilly (who took VP Biden to task earlier in the election cycle for not donating enough to charity) and Stewart can do is donate the proceeds of "The Rumble" to the League of Women Voters or some other, non-partisan organization to help Americans make more informed choices in an election that, boring as it is, will certainly change the course of American history one way or the other.
In the meantime, we can only hope that the WWE will also host a reverse pay per view "Presidential Smackdown" debate, maybe between John Cena and The Rock in D.C., with Connecticut GOP senatorial candidate Linda McMahon moderating.
With the election only a few weeks away, instead of O'Reilly and Stewart faking their way as political pundits to millions, we can all use a few "real" sleeper holds to wake us up to the seriousness of this 2012 election.
Published in the Sun Sentinel on September 27, 2012