February 11th, 2008

ozarque figure

Political campaigning...

Yesterday I watched Hillary Clinton speaking to yet another town-meeting-style group on CNN, and all I could think of was how desperately exhausted she looked. And I'm not talking about her face, which is the body part that tends to get all the attention in "the candidate looks tired" comments. What got my attention was the way she was holding her body, as if she were bracing herself against total collapse.

She has good reason to be tired. Campaigning is exhausting. It means having to be pleasant, non-stop, all day long and all evening long, no matter how you really feel. It means having to say roughly the same things over and over and over again, for one audience after another, and managing to seem enthusiastic about what you're saying, and deeply interested in what you're saying, every single time. Doing both of these things for so many months must be almost unbearable. I never could have done it, even when I was young; fortunately, nobody would ever for an instant have entertained the idea of asking me to do it.

I was introduced to campaigning, and learned to hate it, when I was a toddler. My father used to run for various county offices. What that meant (and so far as I can tell, what it still means in rural areas of the United States) is that you show up at every local event -- every bean feed, every ice cream supper, every church potluck, every civic organization barbecue, every turkey shoot... every seemly public gathering where they'll let you in -- and you do those two things: make nice nonstop, and say your stump speech over and over and over again. Apparently it's helpful if you have with you a reasonably appealing and well-groomed small child, especially if that small child is able to recite poems competently, and sing songs competently, at the top of her lungs, as I was. My father almost always took me with him -- in my Sunday best, and with Shirley Temple curls -- and put me through my paces, and he almost always won the elections he ran in. I knew a lot of poems and a lot of songs, and I never needed a microphone.

Political campaigns that go on like the current one, literally for years, are insane. Six weeks would be more than enough, especially today when we have 24/7 media. And then the people campaigning could get some rest.

Nonfiction online: "How Verbal Self-Defense Works" at http://people.howstuffworks.com/vsd.htm ; "Why Are Old Women Older Than Old Men And How Can We Fix That?" at http://www.seniorwomen.com/articles/articlesElginOld.html ; Religious Language Newsletter archive at http://www.forlovingkindness.org ; Fiction online: "We Have Always Spoken Panglish" at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/Story-Panglish.html ; "What The EPA Don't Know Won't Hurt Them" at http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/epa.htm ; "Weather Bulletin" at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/Weather.html ; "A Quorum Of Grandmothers" at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/QuorumOfGrandmothers.html ; The Communipaths at http://www.jackiepowers.com/SuzetteHadenElgin/TheCommunipaths.html . More stuff at http://www.sfwa.org/members/elgin/SiteMap.html ; LiveJournal blog index at http://www.livejournal.com/tools/memories.bml?user=ozarque .