Pander Express

by Miles Leicher

When White House Spokesman Jay Carney says, “The President needs to get out in the country and meet real folks in real places,” you know what that means: “Fire up the bus, boys – we’re goin’ to the heartland!”

Like most a few Americans, I followed President Obama’s rural economic tour for the last couple of days and, as you would imagine, it was a real “hog-killin’ time,” as they say in “real places.” Stop after stop, Obama rolled up his sleeves and yukked it up with the locals in front of big red barns, John Deere tractors, bales of hay and pallets stacked high with…more pallets. Heck, at some points I couldn’t tell if I was watching a presidential speech or a re-run of ‘Hee Haw.’

It’s not just Obama, either. In what can only be described as the Super Bowl of Pandering, politicians have been flocking to Podunk places like Decorah, Iowa with a very special message for voters: “Look – I’m just like you!” And to prove it, they’ll “drop-in” on some greasy spoon and tell everyone how the only thing that could make them love America more is if we rolled it in batter and fried it in pig fat. That’s pig fat – don’t even think about using duck, you f**king Frenchies.

It’s all a litmus test for folksiness, and it’s all stupid. Look, there’s nothing wrong with eating at a diner – once, I even went to one sober – but people should do it on their own accord; not to bolster their “real person” credentials. Especially since not once, in the history of political posturing, has it ever fooled anyone. Remember when Donald Trump and Sarah Palin went out for a slice of pizza, then pissed off New York by eating it with a knife and fork? Those two belonged in a pizza joint like Casey Anthony belongs in a Chuck E. Cheese – and yet, I can’t decide what’s more absurd: that they thought they could pull it off, or that anybody gives a crap about how two idiots eat a slice of pepperoni.

Similarly, when President Obama touched on the topic of gun control Wednesday at a town hall in Alpha, Illinois, he had to slip in, “... I’m a big believer in the Second Amendment. And I’m a big believer in huntin’ and – and sportsmen ... ” Is that so, Mr. President? You believe in huntin’ and sportsmen? Well I believe your embrace of hillbilly culture couldn’t have been more awkward if you’d hugged it from behind. 

The saddest part of all is the notion that Obama thinks he can score political points by playing to that crowd. As if Ted Nugent is going to step up and say, “Well shoot, that’s good enough for me – and how bout we just forget about the whole me-calling-you a ‘piece of shit’ thing.” The bottom line is that there is nothing Obama can say – stilted or not – that will convince these people that he isn’t plotting to personally walk up to their trailer, snatch their guns out of their hands and make them watch Michelle Obama replace all their beef jerky with carrots and celery. But, like a turtle humping a shoe, he just keeps plugging away at them, seemingly unconcerned by the lack of reciprocation.

I guess what I’m really saying with all of this is that I want a politician to pander to me for once. Rather than going to the County Fair, I’d like to see Obama show up at an Ultimate Frisbee pickup game. I want to hear a speech that includes the occasional difficult word, just to prove that at least one of us went to college. And when he’s accused of being an elitist for doing so, hear him say “Yeah, so? Try to keep up, dummy.” And finally, quit making such a big deal out of getting takeout from some ordinary place like “Five Guys.” Actually, scratch that; they make a damn fine burger. Carry on, Mr. President.