Friday, June 11, 2004

Stand Up Comedians vs. Politicians

One of my least favorite things about politics is the hypocrisy factor. That's not unusual, a lot of people hate that. I think I've finally got an effective take on this.

I think when people say politicians are liars, they don't mean, flat out, factual, I am not a crook sort of lies. What the mean is emotional dishonesty. Stuff like having to kiss up to someone you can't stand. I believe the term they use in Congress is "minimal high regard."

I thought about this when I saw the picture of John Kerry at Reagan's bier.

The problem is, people want it both ways. They say they want honesty and genuineness, but they choose Bush over McCain, Kerry over Dean. When a genuine, honest, emotional moment erupts - like the booing of Republicans at Paul Wellstone's funeral - it's a scandal. So you can't win. Do the expected thing and you're a hypocrite, but speak the truth and you're a boor.

It's supposed to be rude to speak ill of the dead, but it would be dishonest for me to say anything nice about Reagan.

Honesty isn't always pretty and it isn't always PC. I think the most honest political statements made in America today are by standup comics. Howard Dean was the Chris Rock of the Democratic Party.

But realpolitik ain't art. Art is honest but it's idealized. The notion of John Cusack hoisting the boombox in Say Anything, or Dustin Hoffman pounding on the church door in The Graduate, may seem romantic. In real life it gets you a restraining order.

The numbers are different, too. Kurt Cobain sells 10 million albums and it's a cultural milestone. Ross Perot gets 19 million votes, it's just a passing fad.

Sometimes I think I have the heart of an artist trapped in the life of a politician. Maybe I can reconcile it all someday.

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