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November 3, 2012

I'm worrying about what's to become of me after Nov. 6

By Sam Pollak
The Daily Star

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There’s just no getting around it.
Every four years, it’s the same thing. Despite the millions of words written in newspapers and magazines, the countless displays of insight by pundits of every political stripe on television and online, the American voting public speaks as if in one massive, yearning voice.
“What,” they cry plaintively, “does Pollak think about the election?”
It’s a big responsibility, let me tell you. But it is, after all, the weekend before we decide who’s going to be running the country for the next four years, and, let’s face it, that’s kind of important when you come right down to it.
“More than at any other time in history, mankind faces a crossroads,” wrote Woody Allen in 1979. “One path leads to despair and utter hopelessness. The other, to total extinction. Let us pray we have the wisdom to choose correctly.”
How very true that is, now more than ever.
You’ll find that in making any political decision, the first thing people think about … after deciding to get up and have breakfast … is themselves. This phenomenon is directly attributable to the notion that they spend most of their time with themselves, except, of course, when they’re cruising the Internet.
But let’s forget about them for a minute, and think about me. After Tuesday’s plebiscite, I shall have one giant, yawning need.
I shall require a life.
No, not somebody else’s.
Mine.
My raison d’etre, as it were. A reason not to spend the long, cold winter sitting around in my pajamas, eating Cheetos, watching “Gilligan’s Island” reruns and pondering whether I’d have rather taken Ginger or Mary Ann to the prom.
I am that most unfortunate hybrid of creatures, surely more to be pitied than censured — a New York Yankees fan and a politics junkie.
The Iowa Caucus began for the Republicans on Jan. 3, followed a week later by the New Hampshire primary. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy!
When the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training on Feb. 19, I kissed my wife on the forehead and told her to take good care of herself, that I would see her after the World Series in October and would be glad to give her a ride to the polls Nov. 6.
I wasn’t leaving town. I was just going upstairs to spend rapturous hours watching the Yanks on television while scrutinizing every political website I could find for clues about which Republican was going to run against President Barack Obama, and then, who was going to win the election.
The previous two paragraphs are only a slight exaggeration. I went to work, ate a meal or two with my spouse and even remembered her birthday, but life basically boiled down to the pennant and presidential races.
Sadly, the Yankees — who mysteriously forgot the purpose of the wooden implements they carried to the plate — were eliminated in the playoffs in October by the Detroit Tigers.
And in just a few days, the election — for good or bad — will be over … and my life shall be barren.
But I can’t think about that now. The huddled masses, don’t you know, seek my insight, and who am I to disappoint them to the point that they unhuddle?
So, here you go.
I get a warm feeling when I remember all those — real and imagined — Republican candidates for president rising and plummeting in the polls while the party desperately sought somebody … anybody … other than Mitt Romney to run against Obama.
I wasn’t the first one to note that Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich, Rick Santorum, Herman Cain and Donald Trump all seemed to have emerged from the same clown car.
But I wish I had been.
Of all the Republicans who actually ran for the office, the only one who probably would have beaten Obama was Jon Huntsman, who was eliminated by virtue of being a reasonable, qualified candidate who wasn’t loony enough for the GOP’s right-wing zealots.
If chutzpah entitles someone to be president, Romney will be taking the oath of office in January. Most politicians, including Obama, do a fair share of prevaricating, if not outright lying.
But Romney has made it an art form. What makes him so amazing is that even when the fact-checkers call him on blatant, easily disproved falsehoods, he plows ahead with them in speeches and ads, anyway, secure in the knowledge that the electorate has the shortest of memories and attention spans.
If this political chameleon with no discernible core beliefs wins Tuesday — which I sincerely doubt and even more sincerely dread — it won’t be because of all the Obama-haters. It will be because Romney will have won his brazen bet on an indifferent America that chooses not to pay attention.
So, huddled masses, after considerable contemplation, here are my recommendations:
Obama for America … and Mary Ann for the prom.
Sam Pollak is the editor The Daily Star. He can be reached at spollak@thedailystar.com or at (607) 432-1000, ext. 208. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/sampollak.