It’s Time for a Softer, Gentler America

It’s Time for a Softer, Gentler America

A friend of mine at The Chicago Tribune who’s been upset with the unusual politics of 1998 and 1999, e-mailed the following to me: “The events of the last few months (Starr Report, et al) and the release of a far-reaching sexuality survey today (stating that “More than 4 out of every 10 women and 3 out of 10 men suffer from some serious sexual problem”) lead me to believe that we are a nation who can’t get it up, and we get mad when someone else can.”

This dovetailed nicely with a comment my friend John Siscoe made after Al Gore’s speech at the 1996 Democratic Convention. In the speech, Gore detailed his sister’s death of lung cancer after smoking for many years. Al was expressly saying that he knew the dangers of smoking and saw the damage it could cause. The subtext of what he was saying was “I may be the privileged son of an influential US senator, but I too have suffered, and I too feel your pain.”

John Siscoe grew up in DC and went to school with Al Gore. Siscoe could vouch for the fact that the Gore siblings were very close and that Al’s sister had in fact died of lung cancer. However, he said, it was a long time ago, and Al was reprising old griefs and exploiting them for political gain. John described this as “Severed Head Politics,” meaning that the ultimate end of suffering-based one-upmanship was for Gore’s opponents to nominate a severed head, kept alive with a respirator and artificial heart, because such an individual would have suffered more, would be able to empathize with more people who’ve suffered and would therefore make a better candidate.

What I would like to add at this point is that the news about Americans distrusting a sexually active man is the door into the White House which I’ve been eagerly awaiting. I am 35 years old and a natural-born citizen of the United States. I’ve been impotent for years. I understand the pain and the struggles of 30 percent of the men and 40 percent of the women in this country. I can empathize. I’ve felt the numbness. Numerous times I’ve had to make the dreaded, and never believed by the hearer, speech which begins, “This has nothing to do with you, I’m always this way…”

Therefore, I am officially announcing my candidacy for the office of the President of the United States. I call this an exercise in “Shriveled Head Politics.” I realize that 30 percent of the men and 40 percent of the women is not enough to get elected, but I’m hoping to amass a sizable, if limp, block of delegates going into the convention. As my “softie” delegates won’t be out soliciting hookers on the streets surrounding the convention hall, I hope to organize them into a lobbying force to get me onto the ticket of either party as the candidate for Vice President. When the time comes, I want to approach Quayle’s people with the suggestion they add me to the ticket and use the slogan, “Quayle and Liljengren: Where’s the Beef?…Not in the office of the Vice President!”

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