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The Duel

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*The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Nor one nor t'other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

While watching the CNN/YouTube debate, the first thing that came to mind was this children's poem from so long ago. The Democratic presidential campaign has once again come down to this -- the on-lookers, the reporters, and the media pundits have decided that the primary election is to be a two-horse race without regard for the opinion of the people. No matter how well any of the other candidates may appeal to any of the public, they insist that the only true contest is between the two candidates of their choice. It's as if the other candidates are all part of the anonymous bric a brac; only there as background for the two objects d'arte to which the media wish to draw arrention.

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-yow!"
And the air was littered for an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row
(Never mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

In respone to the YouTube question, "Would you talk to people like Ahdemenadejad, Chavez, and Castro?" Senator Obama responded with an enthusiastic and spontaneous "Yes!" (As you know, puppies, whether or not made of gingham, are only too happy to greet anyone who is willing to pay them attention.)  Senator Clinton, in typical kitty fashion, sniffed and responded that the President of the United States could not risk talking to just anybody without knowing exactly what is to be expected as the result.

The Chinese plate looked very blue.
And wailed, "Oh, dear! What shall we do!"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw--
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate--
I got my news from the Chinese plate!)

Shortly thereafter, the words "naive" and "experienced" were hissed by Senator Clinton to which Senator Obama later barked "Bush/Cheney-lite!"  The political atmosphere has been changed from one of all good friendly Democratic colleagues to open warfare between the leaders of all the polls.  And, the talking heads on TV have been having a great time at their expense, (and taking odds on the winner?)  Almost daily, the airwaves are full of the latest barbs in the exchanges between the two.

 However, the innocent electorate should use their memories to recall the campaign which took place only three years ago. In it, Dr. Dean and Sen. Edwards were deemed to be the "favorites" in early polls and the media pundits were having a great time in promoting the rivalry between them and comparing them to the old "retreads" who had run so many times before. Many of us were comfortable with the siutation when the media suddenly decided that they were not happy with the apparently inevitable outcome and, just before the first big election, chopped a cheer by Dr. Dean from one of his speeches, isolated it, and re-played it ad nauseum, using it to brand Dr. Dean as being a "hot-head" and not fit to serve.

Next morning where two had sat
They found no trace of dog or cat;
And some folks think until this day
That burglars took the pair away!
But the truth about the cat and pup
Is this: they ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

The American electorate can only stand and wait to see the outcome of this media-inspoired spat to see if either of these candidates is able to survive. We yearn for the possibility that one of them or another, should they yield to the inevitable and "eat each other up," will be the candidate that we can elect and that he or she will restore the reputation of the United States as a peace-making power. It shouldn't be asking too much for it to be someone with sufficient intelligence to prevent them from poking hornet's nests with a stick while armed only with a fly-swatter!  In addition, the final choice must be one who can recognize and correct the damage done to every citizen and every level of government by the current administration.

Our only hope, in the event these two candidates should cancel each other out, is that there are others in the field who might, actually, be as good or better administrators of our suffering nation than either of them. Governor Richardson and Senator Biden each have superior experience and knowledge regarding foreign affairs and international policy, while a person with the knowledge and instincts of Sen. Edwards and Rep, Kucininch would be excellent keepers of our domestic reconstruction. If you just plain adore the shock of white hair on the head of Senator Dodd, you would also be pleased with the result of his many years in public service and his dedication to the cause of a stable and peaceful nation and world.

It would be in our own interest to demonstrate to the "talking heads" that we are not at all interested in the "horse race". We are not here to set or break records by electing the "first woman" or the "first black man" to the Presidency. The media must be shown that we, if not they, regard this election as a serious affair and not as a game, as they have treated the woebegotten war in which our children are still being destroyed. Being "good press" does not necessarily mean choosing a good President. They are only concerned with headlines and air time rather than the good of the nation and the restoration of our once-envied way of life, and it is our responsibilty to ignore, if we must, their silly games. Otherwise, we will be like the old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate, merely re-hashing another dubious election and trying to analyze what went wrong.

 
*Eugene Field, Yale Book of American Verse

 

This writer is eighty years old and has spent a half century working with handicapped and deprived people and advocating on their behalf while caring for her own workung-class family. She spends her "Sunset Years" in writing and struggling with The (more...)
 
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