Joel Bowman

The portmanteau monikers are not ours, though we are fast warming to them. They spring, instead, from the minds of an increasingly cognizant non-voter class. And the message from the non-voter class is clear: The presidential race is at best fertile fodder for mockery. At worst, it is a sinister distraction from all that really matters in the lives of good, honest Americans.

But the truth is, it’s both. Last Wednesday night’s rhetorical soft-on serves best as a reminder of the former.

The two candidates dueled with all the ferocity of a couple of sleepy-eyed puppies, rolling around on the rug before returning to their respective teams’ campaign teat for a lazy afternoon feed and some overdue ego petting. The first presidential debate for 2012 was an evening of canned responses, cardboard grins and catchphrases so dull and predictable one could have used them to build the instructions for a drinking game even before the event kicked off. And indeed, many did.

One such meme found floating around the Internet the morning-of encouraged viewers to take a swig of their preferred libation every time a candidate trotted out one of their dog-eared canards (a specific selection was even provided), addressed their opponent in the third person, ignored a question to instead speak to the “American people”…and a slew of other directly and indirectly intoxicating platitudes and quarter-hearted gestures.

Those following the rules of the game closely, regardless of their professed constitution, should have passed out in their armchair even before the microwave popcorn was ready. And a good thing, too.

A smattering of comments from below a YouTube post of the debate summed up the overall impact of the gabfest rather well:

“Is this American idol?” wondered one commenter.

“Two demons spouting different lies at each other. Sweet,” observed another.

A third, “You are being crooked America, they are crooking you.”

And, in reference to the Nobel Peace Prize winning candidate’s ongoing and ever expanding dehumanization of war:

“Where is a drone when you need one…”

Not exactly the unbridled, chest-thumping enthusiasm one would ordinarily expect from the main event at the greatest political circus in town. Still, we can hardly blame an apathetic votership for failing to fall for the feigned pleas and ploys of the political/mobster class. On the contrary. We applaud their mockery of a process H.L. Menken once wryly referred to as an “advanced auction on stolen goods.”

Many past voters have seen enough to know they don’t want to be part of the whole sordid affair. They voted for the “aww shucks” candidate before falling for his hopey changey alternative. And now they know: it’s just like the street vendors say in Indonesia and Thailand, “Same same…but different.” That is, except for the “different” part. Even the perennial “throw the bums out” crowd is beginning to grow weary…realizing that, in the end, there’s nothing to choose from but bums anyway.

In the case of the current race, both candidates are pro-war and the military industrial complex that thirsts insatiably for it. Both are pro-Federal Reserve and the vampire banksters who feast on the bloodletting of would-be savers. Both are pro-bailouts. Both are pro-big government, whether at home (Obama…followed closely by Romney) and abroad (where the roles are ever so slightly reversed).

One gets the feeling that anyone who actually musters enough delusion to carry them to the ballot box will be doing so only because, in the words of Thomas Sowell, they prefer “disaster to catastrophe.”

But when you strip away the veneer, the varnish…and the deafening vacuity…there’s really nothing to inspire the trip. The suits are there, lapel pins affixed just so…the mouths are moving…the teeth are flashing…but there is…nothing.

President Obama, for his part, appeared tired, perhaps vaguely uncomfortable at the prospect of defending a four-year record of near-unmitigated failure. Forty-plus months of above 8% unemployment. Trillion dollar budget deficits projected out as far as the decade is long…and beyond. Additional debt equal to that added by no fewer than forty previous presidents, combined. And a not-insignificant twenty million Americans added to the food stamp lines (the “bread” to the debate’s “circus”) since he first set foot in the White House.

So enervated was Obama’s performance that Governor Romney, a man who dedicated much of his own campaign to earning the description “pretend human,” appeared almost lifelike beside him. Almost. Sensing weakness in his opponent, the Romneybot honed in on the president’s key soft spots…only to betray his own affinity for many of those same positions. Romney is not against the Dodd-Frank Act, for example, only some parts of it. A free market needs regulation, he proclaimed, evidently unaware of the exclusive and contradictory nature of the terms. (You know, it’s free up until…uh, it’s not?) He is not against Obamacare per se, only some parts of it…the parts that may or may not be common to his own state’s enormously costly program, Romneycare, by many measures the most expensive in the entire nation.

If these issues were highlighted, as was supposed to be the case, to cut a great philosophical divide between the two parties, one is left to wonder about the conspicuous absence of other issues such as, oh… extrajudicial assassinations of American citizens abroad, the exponentially increasing scope of America’s deathly drone operations both on foreign soil and in “The Homeland,” the relentless mission creep of Orwellian agencies like the TSA, FDA, DHS (etc.) or the fact that, with less than 5% of the world’s population and nearly a quarter of the global prison population, the “Land of the Free, Home of the Brave” is now unquestionably deserved of its new tag line, “Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave.” And on… and on… and on…

Anything on those “dividing” issues? Nothing. Nada. Zilch.

There are, of course, some key differences between these two suits. One chose for the evening to wear a solid blue tie; the other a faintly striped red number. Look for a flip-flop in the next debate.

Gradually, the non-voter class is wizening up to the fact that the act of voting is more akin to kissing one or the other cheek on the same bloated derrière than exercising any quaint, propagandized notion of “civic duty.” After all, a buttock smooch will not change the chief function of that end of the political anatomy. No, Fellow Reckoner, the soft seat of the body politick is built for expelling one thing and one thing only…as the candidates dutifully and effortlessly displayed.


Joel Bowman
for The Daily Reckoning

Joel Bowman

Joel Bowman is a contributor to The Daily Reckoning. After completing his degree in media communications and journalism in his home country of Australia, Joel moved to Baltimore to join the Agora Financial team. His keen interest in travel and macroeconomics first took him to New York where he regularly reported from Wall Street, and he now writes from and lives all over the world.

Recent Articles

Peter Thiel Explains What Backs the U.S. Dollar

Chris Mayer

In a recent interview, Peter Thiel gave a simple and clear explanation of what gives the U.S. dollar its power. “It surprised me,” writes Chris Mayer, “because I had not heard anyone but fringe economists give it. And yet it is the key to understanding modern money.” Chris revisits the idea… including some radical ideas “that will change the way you think of money and the economy forever.”

Could Steak Really Cause Arthritis?

Stephen Petranek

Can you really eat more salt? Is arthritis caused by steak? Are artificial sweeteners really Satan’s sugar? Stephen Petranek comes clean about 2014’s wackiest health recommendations in his new series on “The Truth About MD Warnings.”

Now’s the Time to Buy Housing Stocks – While They’re Cheap

Greg Guenthner

So let me point out one of the new clues for you: construction hiring is actually on the mend after years of decline. Contractors added 48,000 jobs in December, according to the latest numbers. Full-year numbers were also better than expected, clocking in at 9-year highs. Why is no one talking about that?

The Currency Wars’ “Pearl Harbor”

James Rickards

The most dramatic battle yet in the currency wars took place last Thursday. It was the financial equivalent of a Pearl Harbor sneak attack. Jim Rickards has the full story... what it means moving forward... and a lesson for all gold investors...

Why Oil Can’t Stay Cheap

Byron King

As consumers, you want to see low prices at the pump. But for investors who've been riding the American fracking boom, are these low prices a death knell? Byron’s advice to you, as an investor with exposure to energy stocks, is to not panic in the face of short-term market turmoil. And Byron’s got two picks primed to rebound…