The big political season leading up to the presidential election is underway and you know what that means. You’ll probably have to avoid certain members of your family who are either left wing extremists or right wing militants. And you’ll have to pretend to be napping while the barber shop erupts in charges of treason, threats of reprisals and predictions of imminent doom. And happy hour might become a slugfest if the bartender makes the mistake of leaving the news on.
Some people think this is a good thing, and we’re willing to admit it can be entertaining, but only if the candidates loosen up. Take the immigration issue for example. It seems that a lot of people, the idler included, have been wondering why there is such a crisis. Isn’t there a law in place? While we’re working out if and how it should be changed or replaced, shouldn’t the law as it exists be enforced? Isn’t that how our system works?. The people who are supposed to be enforcing it seem to be saying they don’t like the law and it is too hard to enforce. Hey, if you don’t believe in speed limits you probably shouldn’t be a traffic cop, right?
So in steps Donald Trump, famous for his reality television shows and his gravity defying coiffure, and he points out something that is pretty obvious when you think about it: If you don’t enforce immigration laws, all kinds of criminal types flood into your country. Sweat and Matt, which is not the name of a new aerobics studio but rather the two guys who escaped from prison in New York, were originally headed for Mexico. Isn’t it only natural that Mexican criminals on the lam would head here? Especially if there’s nothing to stop them.
Some genius pundit, I think it was Michael Kinsley, defined a political “gaffe” as the inadvertent telling of the truth. That’s why the experts say Trump can never be elected, and they’re probably right. That thermonuclear combover isn’t helping either. But he didn’t really impugn a whole nationality. Some Mexicans are criminals and some of those criminals are rapists. So are some Norwegians. (Some Mexicans are dog whisperers. I love that show.)
The pope’s another one. Two years ago he observed, “If someone is gay and he searches for the Lord and has good will, who am I to judge?” Of course this is in keeping with common Christian doctrine about how you’re supposed to treat everyone as a child of God and love your neighbor no matter whether he’s gay or straight, rich or poor, short or tall. You know, the Golden Rule n at. But some people said “You! You’re the pope, you’re supposed to judge!” And some said, “Aha! the pope’s in favor of gay marriage!” All he did was tell the truth in his own way, but that’s a gaffe in the political sense. Professional political consultants call it “going off-message.” But he didn’t seem to care, at least about the politics.
Look at what happened to Howard Dean. He got all fired up at a rally and yelled “Yee-haw” and that was the end of him. Why? True it had a strange almost animal-like guttural quality to it, but that could’ve been an electronic quirk and why should a simple expression of exuberance disqualify him from office?
We need to liberate our candidates from these strictures and let them be as kooky and wacky as they want to be. Does anybody really want another presidential debate where everybody stays “on message.” Of course not. That’s why the Idler is founding the Joint Association for Gaffes and Other Forms of Foolishness, or JAGOFF. We can make politics amusing again, but it will take a JAGOFF.
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