Chanting, Pundits, Money - Ugh

Dan Boylan
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Wednesday - November 05, 2008

As I write this, I don’t know who the next president of the United States will be. I don’t know whether Mayor Mufi Hannemann succeeded in holding off City Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi’s challenge. I don’t know whether rail won the voters’ approval. Nor do I know whether the voters want to convene a constitutional convention.

I think the answers are: Barack Obama; yes, Hannemann did; yes, by the slimmest of margins; and no. But I don’t know.

My beloved 11 regular readers know as you read this. But I don’t, as I write it. Here’s what I do know:

I know that I don’t like campaign chants - chants like “Four more years! Four more years! Four more years!” I didn’t like it when Nixonians, Reaganites or Clintonians chanted it in 1972, 1984 and 1996, respectively.

Nor do I like the most popular chant of this election cycle, the Obamanian “Yes, we can! Yes, we can! Yes, we can!”


“Yes, you can” what, elect a Hawaii-born, hapa-haole president? An achievement, certainly. But so what? Or rather, now what? It is one thing to win, quite another to chant - or, more important, to govern. The chants ring of emptiness, of choreographed adulation. See Hitler’s “Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil! Sieg Heil!”

No, I don’t like chants.

And do not like political analysts. Oh, I know. I know. In a minor key, I play that role myself for my 11 regular MidWeek readers and for the viewers who don’t switch to another channel when I come on an election-year KGMB9 broadcast “to tell you what it all means.”

I don’t know what it all means. Neither do the guys on the other local channels. Nor - on the national networks - do the Pat Buchanans or the David Gergens or the Howard Finemans or the ... well, pick your favorite of the art of punditry. None of us knows. Nobody knows - or if they do, they only know a fraction of what it all means. And the guy at the company water cooler - or on the next bar school - may well know more.

But there’s airtime to be filled, so they - we - have to keep talking. On the cable networks - Fox, MSNBC, CNN - the time to be filled is infinite: 24/7 for years. So talk we do: “Bla-la-la-lala-la-la.” It never ceases, and it infrequently enlightens - if at all.

I’ll tell you something else - or someone else - I don’t like. I don’t like those snarky, right- and left-wing cable political talk show hosts.

I don’t like MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann. I don’t like Fox’s Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly. I don’t like HBO’s Bill Maher. Whatever their politics, right or left, mine or those of people who disagree with me, all the aforementioned high-paid blabbers reek of arrogance and self-satisfaction.

Another thing I don’t like: the pre-eminent role of money in American politics. Money has rained down on us this entire election cycle. Obama has had so much of it that he’s been able to all but buy seven television networks. Indeed, in the current economy, Obama’s political advertising dollars may be what’s kept a slew of television affiliates from declaring bankruptcy.

Oh, I know. I know. Obama’s money was necessary to climb the historic mountain he had to climb, i.e., winning the White House for an African American.

But what about Mayor Hannemann’s ownership of the local airwaves in his re-election effort? Why should he be able to trumpet his argument for re-election loudly, endlessly - in print, radio and television, while his opponent - a qualified, experienced legislator - could barely get her message out to the folks before the ballots were counted?

It ain’t fair, I tell ya, it ain’t fair - and it’s certainly not what the Founding Fathers had in mind when they launched this great democracy.

OK. I could go on, but I’ll stop complaining - until the next election cycle leaves me near despair.

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