Monday, April 14, 2008

The First Step ...

... is admitting you have a problem, right?

It all started a few weeks ago, I think. I started watching the delegate count. I dug around at the New York Post politics page. I figured out how many pledge delegates were in each column and how many super-delegates had made an announcement, and how many were left. I did the math. Hillary Clinton would need to get between 60-70% of the remaining delegates to win the nomination.

I knew it was over. I also knew that Hillary Clinton wouldn't give up. I started checking back at the NY Post regularly to keeping tabs on the delegate count. It was just one site.

Then something, I don't know what, sent me to It wasn't why I went, but I found segment called "The Hillary Deathwatch." It was dark and funny in a way that appealed to me. I checked back periodically to see if they updated. I decided that that was too much work and I subscribed to it. I also found the Nora Ephron piece Hooked on Hillary that I told you about a while ago. [Correction: This essay is at The Huffington Post.] I laughed myself silly. I also found a delegate calculator that will allow you to see for yourself how hard it will be for Clinton to win. I added Slate to my daily reading list.

Periodically I read the Washington Post on-line. I checked them out. It turns out that they have a blog The Trail where they give regular updates on whatever what is happening. So I started checking it out.

And then I subscribed to it. I'm not sure why it appealed to me more than the New York Times The Caucus, but it did. Besides, reading the Times was such a regular part of my routine that I didn't need to subscribe to it. Now, subscribing the The Death Watch and The Trail was supposed to HELP me stay focused on my life. Sadly, they only send out the beginning of the posts, so I had to go to the sites to read. I often found other things to read, but that was okay. There were fun moments. I watched Obama campaigning in Pennsylvania. I added a couple of Penn newspapers to my favorites, just so that I could check up on what they had to say, which was surprisingly little.

And then, G-d help me, one of these things, I do not know which, sent me to The Huffington Post. I will not link there. Search for it yourself. It is political junkie crack. They update all the time. At any moment you can find a new story. Any moment. Much of it is legitimate breaking news, being reported there first, but some is a little ... soft on facts. Still, if you want to be the first person to see a photo or video of Obama bowling or Clinton pouring down a shot of whiskey -- it is the place to be.

Was it on Slate (or was it Huffington and I just don't want to acknowledge that because I'm trying to get myself to stop going there every hour?) that I first learned that Bill brought up the Bosnia lie again for no good reason. He actually volunteered the defense that his wife mispoke because she was 60 and tired at 11:00pm. It hit me -- he is a narcissist and consciously or no, he does not want Hillary to win. He can't play second fiddle. He WILL sabotage her campaign. It was a train wreck, and I could not stop watching.

I started surfing the sites hourly looking for what Bill had said today. (In case you are wondering, today April 14 he has claimed to see "I'm not bitter" signs wherever he goes -- except the reporters who go with him don't see them.) It is hard to turn away from a train-wreck, impossible when the crash is imminent.

Friday morning saw a clip in which Hillary laughed, LAUGHED when someone asked about whether her profiting by Bill's work on behalf of a trade proposal she opposed was a conflict of interest. I sat back. It was so over. Bill was too much of a liability. Hillary wouldn't admit it, but the superdelegates would all see. It was over.

And then "Bittergate" broke out on Huffington Post.

And my life hasn't been the same since.

I'm obsessed.

See, I was watching the train wreck. It was just about to be over, and someone pulled a switch and it didn't happen. Something else happened. Terrible. Horrible. It really wasn't so much that I preferred Obama to Hillary, although by then I certainly did, it was that I wanted it to be OVER. I really, really did. And then there was that thing that Obama said, and what he meant, and how people were going to understand it, and the unbelievable spectacle of it all.

And since Friday I just can't stop. I read the sites. I don't even know how The Daily Kos and Andrew Sullivan got added to my list, but they did. So now I have two national papers, four Pennsylvania papers, Slate, Huffington Post, Kos, and Andrew Sullivan. Sometimes I find myself compelled to check out or or even USA Today. Some of the links take me to Politico, but I refuse to bookmark it. I just can't take another -- although the long-lost article Obama's father wrote on African socialism which has been published there in its entirity is calling me. (No, I won't give you a link! I will not be responsible for further spreading my disease.)

And it takes long enough to go through all of them that by the time I am done it is perfectly plausible that there will be something new on Huffington.

I can't stop myself.

I watched the compassion forum on CNN. I got to see the candidates answer probing questions like "Why do you think that if God is is good he allows suffering in the world?" It is, by the way, a total rumor that anyone asked anyone else, "How many bitter angels can dance on the head of a Pennsylvanian?"

I am a fountain of meaningless trivia. Does anyone really care that Cindy McCain has "McCain Family Recipies" on the McCain web site that are plagiarized from the Food Network? Or that Judicial Watch has filed a complaint with the FEC claiming that Sir Elton John's benefit concert for Hillary is illegal since he is a foreign national and so unable to contribute to an American campain?

Maybe you care that the very day Hillary was walking the streets of Scranton PA talking about learning to shoot a gun (Don't ask her when, that's irrelevant) and trying to prove that she is in touch with real Pennsylvanians, the Scranton newspaper endorsed Barak Obama. How about that as of today Barak Obama has one more delegate in the New York Times count than he did yesterday?

I could explain to you about how misleading the "total vote" counts are. I could use my own county, now that so many caucuses have happened. It is not a big clue to my location. More than 1600 people went to my county caucus. 78% of the participants voted for Obama and so he got 23 county delegates. Hillary got 6. Since no official count is made of the number of participants, in places where it tells you how many people actually voted for Obama or Clinton only 23 votes from my county are counted. But those 23 votes represent well over 1000 participants. It is like that in every caucus. It might not be that the officially counted delegates typically each represent 50+ caucus attendees, but they sure as hell represent at least 10 and probably 25. So take all the vote counts from all the caucus states and multiply by 10 to 60 in order to find out how many people actually drug their butts from the house to vote for him.

I can't stop -- although confessing to you is supposed to help. Jo said it would.

Because I have got to stop. It's taking over my life and it just has to end.


I remind myself that the rest of the world really isn't paying that much attention and the current firestorm doesn't have as much of an effect as the pundits want to believe (because they would be out of a job if no one really cared).

And I know lots of ordinary citizens just aren't paying attention.

I mean, just Saturday a very nice woman whom I really admire told me that she was supporting McCain and asked me if I didn't think he would be a good president. I said, "I would feel better about it if he could keep the Shia and Sunnis straight."

Her response? "There are so many tribes in Africa I don't know how anyone can keep them straight."


  1. "Hi, my name is Yondalla and it has been 15 minutes and 25 seconds since my last look at political blogs" OK...I couldn't help myself ;)

    We need an intervention for you!LOL

    I nearly choked on my snack when I read that last sentence...then again, a few years back some geography answers from college students were released and some mistook South America for Africa or put Brazil in Africa...really scary.

  2. "There are so many tribes in Africa I don't know how anyone can keep them straight."


    Heee heee heee heee!

    That is awesome.

  3. Laughing hard here. I'm just hoping the war in Africa will be over soon.

  4. I command you to delete all the political threads from your RSS reader.

    I know you won't, but I just had to say so, anyway.

  5. I am so proud of you for admitting your problem. It is the first step. But for this journey to continue you MUST take more steps. Your public waits with bated breath to see what the next step will be.

  6. See, I think you're approaching this the wrong way. As an academic, you should be thinking about how to re-tool this passion into your next paper. (I can say this because I'm a political scientist, but don't you study philosophy? Can't you find some way of applying it? And then you can read The Daily Kos as much as you want. . . )

  7. Thanks for the links.

    My election year jones was irreparably damaged in '04. I can't seem to pour my heart into this one -- not sure if that means I am in "recovery" or not. I am in that iffy place where I still think I can "handle it" socially. You know. In small doses when I'm not alone. And on the Comedy Channel, where it's 'just for fun.'

    Gah. The Africa remark sums up the angst pretty neatly. I would add to your Shia/ Sunni reply ... I might feel better about it if the Supreme Court had a little more youth and a little more diversity.

  8. What Emily said! Keep reading and periodically writing about it here. It's how I keep up, trying to follow it myself makes my head hurt!

  9. I hate to aide and abet your habit, but my hubby and I run an Obama site, wanna be a contributer?


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