Nobody likes a presidential election campaign better than I do. But this one darn near took a piece out of me.
This has been the longest, most expensive and nastiest campaign in my memory. And my memory goes back to 1968.
I was in college in Albany that year, and I stayed up on election night in my one-room apartment watching the returns come in on my tiny black-and-white television set. We had no declared winner until well into the next morning when Ohio was called for Richard Nixon. He ended up beating Vice President Humphrey by less than 1 percent.
What is it about Ohio? And Florida for that matter? The Peck’s Bad Boy of state voting irregularities, it was actually quite shocking to see people waiting in line five and six hours to vote there. In Florida. In 80-degree sunshine. Why? They had better election efficiency last year in Kabul than they did in Dade County.
As the race neared the finish line people began musing about the possibility of an Electoral College tie. What would happen? Fears were abated when President Obama rolled to a near electoral landslide over Mitt Romney.
And what is the Electoral College anyway? Instituted by our founding fathers, the Electoral College was put into place to ensure that the riff-raff in our society would not end up picking our leader, but rather their votes would be handed over to the more sophisticated gentry who could be trusted to make an intelligent choice for President (in theory).
Should we abolish the Electoral College and just let the majority rule?
Try telling that to New Hampshire and Iowa, two perennial presidential kingmakers. It is estimated that in the last year both nominees made a total of 60 campaign trips to each of these less-than-populous states. Can anybody guess how many campaign stops Obama and Romney would have made is Des Moines or Nashua if the winner was declared abased on popularity votes only? It would be a figure very close to zero.
The campaign had many highlights and just as many lowlights. I loved the 25 GOP debates and always like the drama building up to the naming of a vice presidential candidate. I also enjoy watching both national party conventions. I know they are basically just campaign fluff, but I am glued to them from gavel to gavel.
The lowlights slightly outnumbered the highlights as the campaign dragged on infinitum. And there was a sorry bunch of losers this year. John Kerry, for example. He lost big time.
Hey, you say. He wasn’t even running! I know, but he role-played Romney in the practice sessions leading up to the first debate in October. If the end result, a somnambulant president who almost fell asleep at his podium, was any indication of Kerry’s debate practice skills, well, I’d be pretty embarrassed if I were him.
Mitt Romney’s lead surrogate, former New Hampshire Gov. John Sununu, also lost this year. Every time he faced a live camera, many of us scratched our heads trying to think who this odd man reminded us of. And then it dawned on us. Sununu morphed right before our eyes into that crazy old uncle of ours who is always the last one to leave at Thanksgiving.
There were many other losers along the pockmarked campaign trail, too. Karl Rove, the “architect” of the GOP right, for example. The last time he was seen he was heard bleating, “We won! We won!” as pretty Megyn Kelly gently guided him by the arm out the back door of the Fox News studio. And Donald Trump? Cue the laugh track.
The Democrats had their flops along the way, too. Can you imagine how it felt to be Jim Messina, President Obama’s campaign manager, when he saw Joe Biden on television giving a speech? Imagine the kind of cardiac acrobatics Messina’s heart went through when Biden wandered off script and said, “Now, let me tell you somethin’ folks ... “ I’m sure you could hear every exaggerated deep gulp squeaking out of every tightened throat in the campaign office deep within the White House.
Yes, it was an exhausting year for the candidates as well as for those of us who live for this stuff.
And now it’s over. So I only have two things to say. To Messrs. Rove, Limbaugh, Trump, Sununu, et.al.: “You lost, now let’s move on.”
And to President Obama, I say, “You won. Now what?”
I’ll catch you in two ...
“Big Chuck” D’IMPERIO can be heard on weekdays beginning at 6 a.m. on WDOS-AM 730 in Oneonta, and also on Thursday nights from 7-9 p.m. on WSRK-FM 103.9 for his “Oldies Jukebox Show.” You can find “Big Chuck” on Facebook under Upstate New York Books. He invites you to contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/bigchuck.