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After the Golden Age by Alvin Schwartz
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AFTER THE GOLDEN AGE for 01/12/2004
Volume 2, #108

Make Sure You're Not Yourself or You Won't Get Elected

The NYTimes carries an interesting story about how General Clark is trying to soften his image to appeal more to women voters by wearing sweaters in lieu of hard-edged military attire or anything even suggesting the same. Hillary Clinton, in her last election effort, adopted sweaters to give her a softer look. And everybody all over the place is trying to look, dress, suggest that they really aren't who they are at all, but somebody else more electable.

I think they got the idea from Superman, the first of the superheroes. Change your costume, so nobody'll ever recognize who you really are. After all, when it comes to something like the presidency, one has to be absolutely sure that nobody mistakes you for yourself.

Bush, as opposed to General Clark, tried his own hard-edged two-gun landing-on-the-deck-of-a-carrier outfit, just in case anyone decided he wasn't tough and military as his record suggests. That is, he served a soft touch in the National Guard, rarely putting in an appearance, and that simply wouldn't do.

Anyway, that's how it goes, the softies try to look tough, the toughies try to look soft, the hard-edged like Hillary try to look like kittens and no one wants to seem or look as if they might really be who they really are. But, this is sheer lunacy. And it's time we started asking ourselves why we can't find out who our elected representatives really are so we know what in the hell we're voting for.

It's easy.

If I were running for president, what would I do? Seems obvious to me that I'd run as Alvin Schwartz. Not a tough guy at all. Maybe talks too much, but why would I pretend to be anybody else? What happens if I really get elected and the whole sordid truth comes out, I'm not the two gun, pure-as-the-driven-snow, lovable, gentle character my handlers have made me out to be. I'm me, the guy they elected and will have to be no matter how many times I change suits.

Well, maybe not. Let's face it. Politics isn't about anything real. It's all a big act! And the American people seem to be catching on to the game, especially among Republicans. First, they elected Reagan, the actor. Then now, we've got Schwarzenegger, the actor. How do we make sense of all this? I have a suggestion.

Every candidate for important office ought to have a superhero suit. Something designed by their handlers or their favorite stylists so they'll look as good and powerful and effective as possible.

It should all be part of the political system. And it should make for some exciting politics. In fact, I think that candidates vying with each other in fancy symbolic costumes should do more than anything else to stir up interest in a campaign and get out the vote. What images of power, of intelligence, of wisdom can a properly thought out costume provide to turn on the electorate. Think of it. It would be the remaking of this country.

After all, the military made a great issue of it, sticking braids and brass and gleaming long peaks on their generals' hats, with boots to strut around in. Why do it halfway with such prissy things as scarves and sweaters and soft looking stuff? Bush had the right idea when he landed on that carrier deck like Superman. In fact, he should dress like that all the time. Then he wouldn't have to try to talk so much, which he can't do anyway. In a good costume, all he has to do is stand there and glow, or glower, depending on what he's trying to express.

I know, I know, it didn't work for Dukakis. But everybody's been looking at this the wrong way. It wasn't the outfit that did Dukakis in. He had a lousy tailor. So, yes, I'd say, if you're going to run for high office, make sure you get someone who knows how to put some oomph into a costume. Preferably get yourself someone who knows something about comics.

In case some of you who read my previous column were wondering what happened to the final Alvin Schwartz I was going to describe today, he's here. You just have to look real closely for the guy wearing the pussy-cat costume.

--Alvin.

<< 01/05/2004 | 01/12/2004 | 01/19/2004 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Round Table.


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