Categorized | Global View

The New A-List

[house]I\’m starting to form a theory that says in about 19 months, I will be surrounded by much less star power. Contrary to popular belief, I do not spend ample time prodding at Britney Spears through text messaging to find out what leaps and bounds she has made in rehab nor do I skip ISP lecture to grab a cup of coffee with George Clooney. Sigh. In 19 months, it is not the celebrities living out the remainder of their aging heartthrob status who I will stop incessantly hearing about. It seems to be just as much a law of the universe as the Theory of Relativity that once you\’re a heartthrob, you\’re always a heartthrob. Unless of course you drop off the deep end and shave your head in which case extends your 15 minutes of fame to eternity.
[who]Nineteen months from now equates to November 2008, and November 2008 equates to the presidential election in which Barack Obama, John McCain and Hillary Clinton, among others, have starring roles. Since candidates have secured their spots in the past few weeks, it has become apparent that a fair amount of digging is necessary to unearth the politics of this election. If I remember correctly, this theory of mine came to me while pausing on CNN only to find the question \”Does America want a pretty president?\” scrolling across the screen. Perhaps CNN\’s tactic worked because I, in fact, did stop channel surfing but only because of my disbelief that such a question was really being posed in the middle of a newscast hindered my ability to push the up arrow on the remote.
The question of the importance of looks echoes the countless other points of contention pouring from inside the pages of newspapers, out of the mouths of Sunday morning political commentaries and from anyone at all interested in the election. It does not seem rash to say that perhaps asking \”Is America ready for a black president?\” or \”Will men vote for a woman?\” holds somewhat more weight than suggesting that prettiness could intoxicate the American electorate and put them over the edge. In addition to all of these questions come the investigations into murky waters that are the pasts of the candidates only to find slices of irony – such as despite John Edwards\’s characterization of poverty in America using the \”Two Americas\” analogy, he recently moved into a 28,200 square foot home complete with his very own recreation building.
Obviously, background checks and swirling questions about the public\’s opinion of a candidate are not unique to either this election or era in general. Although at the ripe age of 19 I have only had the pleasure of experiencing five elections, it has been clear that even the most laughable findings can trigger disaster. Remember the infamous picture of John Kerry crawling out of a NASA space shuttle in a sky blue onesie complete with a hood? It is too unfortunate to forget.
It is the emergence of the 2008 presidential candidates as a new force of celebrities with plenty of dirty laundry to hang on the line and countless questions as to whether or not the effects of their gender, race or property taxes will grate on America\’s nerves all while looking pretty and discussing war when the time is right that has me on edge. This constant pressure cooker of celebrity status and political ambition makes me want to grab a few gallons of water and cans of food and head to a bunker where I can contemplate my vote instead of what constitutes \”black enough\” or whether or not a beautiful president would serve us well. I don\’t mean to suggest that Barack is no heartthrob or that perhaps Hillary is not masculine enough to sit in the Oval Office. Maybe both are true, but I feel better not knowing how much Obama\’s sex appeal influences the American electorate. Because last time sex appeal infested the Oval Office, the perpetrators became more A-list than ever.
So while it is somewhat ridiculous that I feel compelled to select my favorite candidate from the comfort of an underground bunker, a selection, nonetheless, will be made. It is an arduous task to sift through the fluff that fame brings in order to discover what actually matters about the candidates, but somebody has to do it. Despite my efforts, I have yet to find one candidate who I feel comfortable throwing my weight behind. After the past 8 years I can safely assert that there is no way in hell I would vote for a Republican. John McCain has tricked me into thinking he was a stand-up guy in years past, but this time I won\’t fall for it. Distancing myself as much as possible from the policies and aims of the Bush administration is a personal goal of mine, and while McCain could be seen as somewhat of an improvement, so could anyone at this point.[madre]
The general assumption made in many conversations I\’ve had with friends about the candidate pool derives from the keen observation that because Hillary is a woman and because I happen to be one too, I must be her biggest fan. While I appreciate the fact that Hillary is introducing estrogen into a pool of testosterone that has been cultivated since the beginning of American political life, there is something about her that makes her difficult for me to warm up to. I find myself agreeing with her push for a cap on the number of additional troops in Iraq and her insistence that the U.S. be out of Iraq by 2009, as well as her stance on many hot button issues such as support for abortion rights, coping with global warming and the relaxation of restrictions on stem cell research. But I can\’t help that every time I think of Hillary I experience a flashback of my 11-year-old self curled up in front of the television, a bowl of cereal in my lap, watching The Today Show before school (because that is how life works when your parents are news junkies) only to see Hillary Clinton glaring back at me, annunciating the words \”vast right wing conspiracy\” as forcefully as possible. She had the eyes of a cold blooded killer, and the string of pearls around her neck weren\’t fooling me. I swear if Kenneth Starr had been one of those sorry people in the crowd shrieking for a moment of stardom during Al Roker\’s weather report she would have sniffed him out like a bloodhound and put an end to the investigation right in the middle of Rockefeller Center. Hillary scarred me that morning, and I have not been the same since.
Barack, on the other hand, has anything but scarred me. Once again, I do not have many qualms about aligning myself with his stances, especially on issues like the Iraq war. His distinguishing selling point so far seems to be that he is the only Democratic candidate who opposed the war from the start. I certainly cannot deny him points for refusing to be played by the Bush administration like so many other Washingtonians and average Joes alike. However something tells me Barack is too good to be true. His ability to bridge the seemingly increasing rift between Republicans and Democrats became apparent to me upon receiving an email from my mom informing me that after some research she had joined his campaign. I had to take a second to brace myself — my mom, who began work on Republican political campaigns in high school and has not looked back since, just told me she had gone to the other side of the tracks and straight into Barack\’s neighborhood. Who was this man, and what had he done with my Republican mother? As a man of color, Barack unearths middle American taboos that have been continually swept under the rug, making it even more impressive that he can work such miracles as converting Republicans to Democrats. However, even the eternal optimist within me has to wonder if all of the fame and the suggestions that perhaps he is America\’s saving grace will lead to a sudden downfall. Barack cannot be the flawless diva strutting down the red carpet; a heel has to break or the dress has to rip. The fact that no Obama dirty laundry has been hung out on the line yet just has me on the edge of my seat wondering when it will happen.
[gore]Hillary and Barack have left the rest of the Democratic candidates in their dust; although John Edwards can often be seen in the clearing, especially now after the announcement of his wife\’s returned cancer. My uncertainties about who to root for from my bunker are also due to the possibilities for others to enter the race. Perhaps Al Gore will stop awkwardly teasing us at the Oscar\’s podium and actually give the presidential race another whirl. After all, not only has he gained a personality since the 2000 presidential race — it\’s actually one that is rather endearing at times. And who wouldn\’t vote for a man who plans to save the world one polar ice cap at a time?
So here I am left wondering when I will find crooked secrets of years past plastered across the front page of my New York Times and avoiding the circus of speculation as to what hang-ups Americans find most bothersome about this group of megastar candidates all while wracking my brain to decide who deserves my vote on election day 2008. Whatever the results may be, my ultimate hope is to offer up the Oval Office to someone who can claim an approval rating higher than Bush\’s all-time low of about 33 percent last February. This doesn\’t seem like too much to ask – no matter how much of a cheesy heartthrob or raging diva the winning candidate proves to be.

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