Yesterday morning, after watching "Up with Chris Hayes" (My never-miss-if-I-can-help-it, hands-down favorite political show on TV maybe ever -- except for "The West Wing" and Rachel Maddow), I was aimlessly flipping channels, looking for something equally smart and fun (as IF!) when I got to what I thought should be C-Span but realized it couldn't be because I thought I saw a wizard.
But I did! I did see a wizard! This particular wizard (on C-Span) looked like a bearded Harry Shearer and talked suspiciously like Harry Shearer would talk if he were playing a bearded wizard pretending he was running for president in the foremost state of New Hampshire.
This wizard was wearing a wide-shouldered mustard-colored, oddly flecked jacket and a very very very tall black wizard's hat with what looked like a boot sticking out of the top of it. He was seated on a dais along with five other white guys who claimed to be Democrats and who all had managed to get their names on the primary ballot in that all-important-if-you-want-to-be-president state of New Hampshire.
(NOTE: It doesn't take much to file for POTUS candidacy in the Granite state. You have to be 35 years old and have lived in the U.S for 14 years. You have to be able to put up a $1,000 fee, unless you're indigent and can prove it, in which case the fee is waived. And you have to be able to convince two other people to serve as your delegate and alternate at the convention.)
This wizard's name is Vermin Supreme and let me tell you, he's no Harry Potter. Not unless you think Randall Terry is Voldemort and he deserved what he got at the end of this vital forum, so important for all those white guys, Republicans and Democrats alike, who can't get on the debate stage with the Big White Guys in order to tell the country why they should be president. Of the United States.
But I'll get to that.
So. What I had caught on C-Span three days before Tuesday's first primary election in the entire country was the last few minutes of a re-broadcast of a two-hour program called "Lesser-Known Candidates in New Hampshire Presidential Primaries". There are 44 candidates for president on the 2012 ballot in the crucial state of New Hampshire and in order to be fair to all of them, 32 of the least known (those who were not a part of a national debate) were invited to hold forth in the auditorium of the New Hampshire Institute of Politics at St. Anselm College in Manchester on December 19, 2011.
The Republicans held the first hour and the Democrats the second. (A smart move on the part of the planners who no doubt remembered Vermin Supreme from when he ran before, in 2008, in the exquisitely positioned state of New Hampshire. Who wouldn't want to make sure he was the last thing anyone would see before the cameras turned off, hoping against hope that everyone will have left by then, anyway?)
There were 10 Republican presidential candidates on the stage, pristine in their whitebreadness and raring to go. The first, Bear Betzler, started things off by announcing that he's "not that into politics", but he did believe that the most important thing this country needs to do -- the very most important thing -- is balance the budget.
Timothy Brewer is running on the "Afterlife is possible, everyone lives forever, you can't be destroyed" platform. Mr. Brewer announced that something big is going to happen on December 21, 2012 and if you elect him president he'll be in a position to fix it.
Dr. Hugh Cort is a famous counter-terrorism researcher and his message to the people is that Iran is planning a nuclear attack in the near future--16 months or less--and if you want to know more about it you can Google "Hugh Cort American Hiroshima". The end.
Randy Crow posted over 600 articles on his website before he himself brought it down. . .
. . .planes were flown into the World Trade Center by remote-control bombs. . . something, something.
John Davis told the audience that a couple of years ago God spoke to his heart to run for president. He (John) wanted to do something nobody had ever done before so he decided to visit every county in the United States. So far he has visit 1712 of them and the message he's getting from the people he's been speaking to is that people aren't happy. He's "pro-God, pro-family and country, pro-second amendment, pro-doing the right thing." Oh, and "We can't have God's blessing when we kill a million babies and take prayer out of schools."
Christopher Hill was next and talk about a duck out of water! He's working for "people in the middle class that are watching it disappear and homeless people that need our help." In a broken voice he said, "We're called the lesser-known candidates. Well, tonight we stand for the lesser-known Americans", and my heart went out to him. Someone needs to tell this good man that if he wants to be president and a Republican both, he's going to have to stifle that kind of talk.
Jeff Lawman (aptly named, as he will tell you) says he follows the "traditional Republican platform" which, to him, means "the role of the capable is to assist the needy." He's running a zero-dollar grass roots campaign. (Oh, Jeff. Jeff, Jeff, Jeff. See last sentence in above paragraph.)
Benjamin Linn: "The reason why I'm running is because America is in a big mess right now." He's pro-life and pro-family and pro-marriage between a man and a woman because "marriage between a man and a man or a woman and a woman is not normal."
Michael Meehan: "I am not a politician, I'm a real estate broker and there's no work so, uh, let's go into politics, right?" He's been traveling the country and what he's finding is that "yes, people are scared but I'll let you in on a little secret. People are nervous." He asks questions, and, "They don't answer me stupid. They think about it before they say it."
And then there's Joe Story: "The 10 Commandments served as the basis of our common law when America was born as a nation. Christian principals defined our existence. The supreme court affirmed that we're a Christian nation with liberty of conscience to all man, yet today America is in trouble. We've failed to hold our elected officials accountable and we've become spoiled by the benefits that a government with unlimited funds have provided to us. We have to take control and pray."
And that, wrong-headed as it may have been, was the closest anyone on the stage came to remembering why they were on the ballot in the Number One State of New Hampshire.
So then came the second hour and it was the Democrats' turn.
Ed Cowan (edcowan2012.com) is a writer-thinker who has been published on three continents. Go to his website to see what he stands for.
Bob Greene: "I have a Ph.D in Physics. I have some very good news for you. I'm here to tell you about thorium, an overlooked energy alternative. A lifetime supply for a single person is about the size of a golf ball. Go to greeneforoffice.org to learn all about it."
John Haywood, Durham, NC, is for replacing for-profit health care with a public plan modeled on the British health care system. Their system is run on about 42% of our cost and what we would be looking at is a savings of over a trillion dollars a year. John is totally sincere, and I'm with John, of course. Really nice meeting you, John. John??
Edward O'Donnell followed John and I was finally beginning to think there was something real going on here. Ed said, "We need love, kindness, tolerance, friendliness, forgiveness, second chances, and old-fashioned kindness." Ed is so passionate about this he says no guns, ever, anywhere. Not even for hunting. And while we're at it, how about a non-violent foreign policy? That was sweet and so refreshing. So long, Ed.
So now we come to Vermin Supreme, the bearded guy with that impossible wizard's hat. His opening statement started like this: "Gingivitis has been eroding the gum line of this great nation long enough and must be stopped. For too long this country has been suffering a moral and oral decay in spirit and incisors. Our country's future depends on its ability to bite back. We can no longer be a nation indentured. Our very salivation is at stake. Together we must brace ourselves as we cross over the bridgework to the 23rd century." (For full Vermin coverage, see video here.)
Vermin happened to be seated next to conservative Right Wing "Democrat", Randall Terry, who warmed up the audience even more by saying, "I just want to know what did I do wrong, God, that I have to be on after that!" and then went on to attempt to answer his own question: "Barack Hussein Obama may well go down as the worst president we have ever had. The worst. He is at war with life, liberty and justice. . . (something here about an unelected oligarchy). . .We've come to the insane place as a nation where we have killed over 52 million of our own children by abortion and that blood, like the blood of the slave, is crying out to God for judgment. We will nevverrr restore the greatness of this nation while we are killing our own offspring."
Poor John Wolfe (Chattanooga, TN) came next and I admit I was still dazzled by those other two and didn't pay much attention. I did catch that he believes our policies "are favorable to Wall Street and not to Main Street", and "We need a progressive." Well, yes we do, John, and more power to you for getting it. Too bad about the wizard and the wacko and your placement on the stage. It's the luck of the draw. It's how it goes.
And so it went. Until we came to the Grand Finale, where Vermin the Wizard glitter-bombed Randall Terry after singing a campaign song to the tune of The Chicken Dance, thereby proving once and for all (or until 2016, whichever comes first) just how very important these First-In-The-Nation New Hampshire primaries really are.
(Oh, by the way, I don't want to have to watch that two-hour debate again, so if you happen to watch it in its entirety could you count the times anybody mentioned the word "jobs"? The closest I could come to a count was when the real estate guy said he was out of one.)