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Daniel Ruth

They call it a campaign, but it's more like torture

Now we know how Manuel Noriega must have felt.

Back during the 1989 invasion of Panama, U.S. psychological warfare operatives eventually dislodged the dictator from his sanctuary in the Vatican embassy by blasting hours and hours of window shattering rock music, including Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up and the Clash's I Fought the Law.

In short order Noriega decided he would rather spend decades in a federal prison than run of the risk of being inundated with another auditory assault from Van Halen's Panama.

So it was the other day as we attempted to enjoy our first cocktails of the evening while watching the news only to be exposed — again and again and again — with yet another wave of campaign commercials.

There was Democratic gubernatorial candidate, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, in what might be best described as her Tugboat Annie spot, staring sternly into the camera to remind everyone she's plenty steamed about all the nefariousness afoot in Tallahassee and promising to clean everything up.

Looking like a cross between Glenn Close in Fatal Attraction and Joan Crawford, Sink suggests if she is elected she will rule over the state as a humorless Mother Superior. On a warmth scale, Marine drill instructors are more cuddly.

We immediately fix another beverage — a double — and start worrying if our homework has been completed.

But wait! Next up is the U.S. Senate candidate, former Florida House Speaker Marco Rubio, the Eddie Haskell of the Apalachee Parkway, offering a warm and fuzzy advertisement detailing his humble background. It's an inspiration, is what it is.

From the most modest of upbringings, Rubio lets us know that with enough hard work and dedication, anyone in this great country can some day rise up to become an obsequious personal factotum for the Jeb Bush junta and somehow manage to accumulate substantial personal wealth while in the service of the body politic. America — it truly is a land of opportunity.

We cue up America the Beautiful and fix another aperitif — only this time in the biggest pitcher we can find.

Just about the time we start worrying we'll run out of olives, along comes a commercial, paid for by the Committee of Gutless, Anonymous Toadies for Rick Scott, warning us that while Alex Sink may well want to portray herself as a fearless, penny-pinching crusading reformer who wants to become the Dirty Harriet of Tallahassee, she is in fact — Satan.

This spot argues Sink got wealthy on the backs of hard-working serfs — unlike their chap who got stinking rich in the wake of presiding over the biggest case of Medicare fraud in the nation's history.

Indeed, so this commercial hints, if elected Sink will throw elderly spinsters out of their homes, forcing them to live in a box down by the river, line her own pickets with rubies and pearls and otherwise sit around the Governor's Mansion having knaves peel her grapes all day long.

We give up and simply stick a straw in the gin bottle to save time.

Is all this really necessary — now?

There used to be a sort of unwritten political rule candidates adhered to — that after all the primary season folderol, pols would simply shut up and go away for while, at least until after Labor Day, before starting up once again with their banal self-promotion and attack ads.

Couldn't we just have a break from this silliness — just a short one? Haven't we earned it?

There is a perverse political hubris at work here — that the general public is sitting at their kitchen counters breathlessly, anxiously awaiting the next commercial pimping a candidate's fitness for office or why their opponent is a vile agent of darkness who makes Saddam Hussein look like Dr. Seuss.

Really, do either Rubio, Sink or the Committee of Sleazy Mysterious Touts for Rick Scott honestly believe if they merely went away until after Labor Day they would lose potential votes to be cast more than two months from now?

It is estimated that during the recent primary mosh pit, the average television viewer in the Tampa Bay area was treated to 266 commercials — most of them portraying Bill McCollum as a shiftless poltroon — hawking the candidacy of Rick Scott. Madonna hasn't exposed herself this much.

Imagine — if you dare — what we can expect going into the general election.

Of course the argument for the airwaves carpet bombing is that it is important for the public to get to know these candidates. But the problem, unfortunately, is — we know, we know.

At the risk of committing heresy — could we just know a little less?

They call it a campaign, but it's more like torture 08/30/10 [Last modified: Tuesday, August 31, 2010 8:49pm]

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