Tuesday, May 18, 2010
Political analysts can natter and squawk all they want about what’s going on in the minds of voters in America today, but their sights are fastened on too lofty a source. The naked truth is that the American voter doesn’t use his or her mind when it comes to candidates or issues—the choice comes from the gut.
It’s enough to make Plato or Dante dyspeptic. The gut is the new brain. Talk radio is its digestive tract, cable TV its enzyme. Guess what that makes the gullible voter?
Campaign managers and talk show hosts know. They bank on the gut being unable to digest more than one issue at a time—such time ranging from the length of a succulent sentence to the length of a bacchanalian campaign. They bank on scaring you, then comforting and possibly even inspiriting you. The heart is offal before the unlikelihood of anyone even noticing it's missing. They get you in the gut. If it gets you to the polls and delivers your vote to them, amen.
The table was set earlier today with unappetizing candidates in Pennsylvania, Arkansas and Kentucky primaries. Insiders and outsiders accusing each other of being, of all things—one issue at a time, please!—insiders and outsiders. If you look to see who wants to “throw the bums out,” you’ll see it’s more bums. Two tough birds, incumbent U.S. Senators Arlen Specter (the artist formerly known as a Republican) of Pennsylvania and Arkansas’ Blanche Lincoln are seeing their gooses half-cooked and trying desperately to roll over onto a better side.
Voting from the gut is so precarious that half of America went to the polls in this decade to elect a reformed drinker President of the United States—twice—because he was someone they wanted to have a beer with. (Just one?) As the Commander in Chief of Gut Choices would have it, his gut was the decider. It’s enough to render St. Augustine… or Will Rogers… colicky.
Gut positions? After U.S. Senator George LeMieux publicly broke ranks with his friend of fifteen years, Florida Gov. Charlie Crist, the man who chose him for the Senate seat, LeMieux couldn’t wait to refuse to support Crist’s own non-partisan candidacy for the U.S. Senate, calling his decision "a gut check.” LeMieux’s gut-wrenching should not be confused with intestinal fortitude.
Our newest U.S. Senator, Scott Brown, counseled college graduates “…if your gut tells you otherwise, then go with your gut." I wonder if his inspiration was a man who previously held Massachusetts’ Senate seat, gutsy John Quincy Adams, or the crease in the former male model’s gut from the centerfold of Cosmopolitan magazine.
I don’t gut-begrudge anybody per se who gets free gut-counseling, be it gut-checking or gut-listening. It’s certainly not gut-envy. But it’s a bellyful.
Can you imagine the fallout from a raw body politic fused to Rush Limbaugh’s paunch while he shoots from the gut? Or is that hitting below the belt? How about the bellyaching of Glenn I-Will-Say-Anything-For-A-Fast-Buck Beck? Get you right in the you-know-where? Calling them as I see them, The Duodenum Twins are the pap, gurgle and plop of the air, and if ever they tune in to their own reckless gut-slinging, they’ll probably drown in their own tripe-talk.
The only good advice my gut ever gave me was to let me know it was time to stop eating. I have no appetite for being led by the nose, ear or any other organ that comes to mind, my mind, although I like to believe I don’t lack the guts for it. It’s enough to give me reflux.