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Politics (and Other Human Weaknesses) Explained, Part 1

Back in January 2001, there was a president named Bill Clinton. He was packing to leave the White House, having just floated an air biscuit of presidential pardons to shady guys hiding out in Switzerland. This on top of his having stunk up a blue dress, and then lying about it. Phew!

Enter George W. Bush. You might remember that this man liked a particular letter of the alphabet, the one that starts with W. You might also remember that, upon assuming the office of President, Bush strode into the White House to fulfill his campaign promise to throw open a window and let in the fresh air of honor, dignity and asexual bipartisanship.

But he found a mess. All White-House keyboards had been systematically relieved of their "W" keys. Furthermore, the outgoing President Clinton, in addition to leaving his political stink behind, had also left more tangible products from his nether regions. Just what you'd expect from such a low character!

Except none of it turned out to be true.

In response to these complaints of key-swiping and poop-leaving, the Government Accountability Office swung into action. The first question it asked was -- what were the damages?

That was the only question it had to ask, because the damages were zero. Zip. It was all made up. Nothing but a good story, a pungent smell to waft through the noses of good citizens everywhere and wake us up to W's new America.

Now, at the rear end of W's eight years in office, comes another typographical stinkbomb. Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama recently gave a speech in Ohio while standing in front of a number of flags. Every other flag looked American, but the rest looked different. They were the right colors and had stripes and stars, but all featured a big "O".

Enter Bob Grant -- longtime radio host, inspiration to Rush Limbaugh, and flag critic. Something stinks, he told America. This O thing is just wrong. If Obama would go and do something like this -- make a flag in his image, or at least in his first initial -- he must be a despot.

Except that the flags weren't Obama flags. They were Ohio flags. As in flags representing the State of Ohio, where Toledo is and where Obama's speech was delivered.

So again. Zero. Zip. Nothing but a good story, a smell to cause the noses of decent, non-state-flag-recognizing Americans to sniff in outrage.

I didn't pick these examples merely as representatives of election-year inanity, which they are. I picked them because there's something more fundamental at work here, something that's been with us a long time. Something that -- assuming Obama carries the presidency -- we will see and smell much more of in the next four years.

To be continued in Part 2.