Monday, February 04, 2008

It’s Not Polite to Ignore the Girl Who Brought You to the Dance

I’ve been following the presidential campaign so closely for so long, it hardly seems real that I’m about to cast a ballot tomorrow.

For months, I’ve watched with anticipation and envy as other primary voters basked in the glow of the national spotlight while candidates courted their favor (or was it the other way around?). I saw some New Englander in a flannel jacket boast that he’d shaken each contestant’s hand and “looked ‘em in the eye.” I heard second-hand reports of Barack Obama delivering inspirational speeches to Iowans on the subject of ethanol and wondered when he might turn his attention to the mass transit crisis in his home state.

And now, as Super Tuesday approaches, the wait is over. My time has come.

I spent the past week or two haunting various locations where candidates seemed most likely to congregrate—diners, coffee shops, hot dog stands. I wore my puffy down parka, which is how the media likes Chicagoans to dress in the winter. My friends and I threw informal gatherings in our homes—you know, those intimate tete-a-tetes where you bond with Mitt and McCain over spinach-artichoke dip and really connect on a personal level. I had my sound bites and questions prepared. I would be so passionate and eloquent and camera-friendly, I would look and sound so much like a Real Person with a Real Grasp of Real Issues that the campaigns would enter a bidding war for my services as a special policy adviser. (No way I was going to pull a Maria Menounos. The “Inside Hollywood Access Tonight” reporter sat down last week with Laura Bush and actually asked the First Lady, “Would you like to reach out to Britney Spears?” No, Maria, I’d like to reach out to you and revoke your license to interview.)

Overall, I had the right idea, just the wrong location.

Barack’s glamour train, with Oprah and a gaggle of Kennedys on board, pulled into L.A. Hillary headed to Connecticut and NYC. Romney stumped in Massachusetts. Granted Mitt did make a stop in Glen Ellyn, Ill., but to a Chicago resident, that’s as good as Iowa. I have been, so it seems, ignored.

So I never got my one-on-one time with Mrs. Clinton, which is too bad because I had some vital strategic information to impart. “You know, lots of people don’t feel comfortable wearing their hearts on their sleeves,” I planned to enlighten her. “We’re called introverts. Embrace this long-ignored demographic and the presidency is yours.”

I never got the chance to walk Mike Huckabee over to the Field Museum, where I would show him Sue, our really, really, really, really old dinosaur.

I never had the opportunity to tell Obama that it’s not polite to ignore the girl who brought you to the dance. But if you can’t be bothered to campaign in the city where you live, and you still insist on hammering home your message of change, you might think twice before sending out Richard “Mayor for Life” Daley, scion of American’s longest-running political dynasty, as your substitute.

Mostly I’m sad that candidate Romney will soldier on without benefit of my sartorial assistance. “Mitt,” I would say, pulling him away from prying ears, “what’s with the cheesy blue Men’s Warehouse suits? You look like you’re selling vacuum cleaners door to door, not running for president. Let me show you something in black.” And the hair? Well I would let him go on thinking he’s fooling us with that.


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