A critic once dismissed Igor Stravinsky’s groundbreaking musical work “The Rite of Spring” as “horrible jargon from start to finish.” The same could be said of that rehashed rite of fall, Maine’s US Senate campaign.
Jargon or not, at least Stravinsky provoked his audience enough to cause an opening-night riot. The Senate candidates’ predictable prattle has so far inspired occasional bouts of boredom interspersed with unscheduled naps.
The central issue in the race has been the allegation that the incumbent, Olympia Snowe, is — I cringe to repeat the vile slur — a Republican. As a result, her opponents charge, Snowe sometimes votes like other members of the GOP.
“We need to take our country back from the Republicans who are driving it into the ground,” Democratic challenger Jean Hay Bright proclaimed in a newspaper profile, without saying what she would prefer to drive the country into. The air, perhaps, since she’s announced she intends to return the United States to “the Superman model of Truth, Justice, and the American way.”
Independent Bill Slavick, a finalist at the World’s Dullest Man competition, is running, according to a letter in the Portland Phoenix, to support “the requirements of the common good as against service of dehumanized market capitalism greed.” If Slavick hasn’t been endorsed by the League For Mangled Syntax, perhaps this quote from an op-ed piece will tip the scales in his favor: “[Anti-gay activists] would create fear of some push, down the road, for legal recognition of gay marriages as justifying disrespect of the unconditionality of human rights.”
Not that Snowe is getting calls from Bartlett’s Familiar Quotations, asking to preserve her remarks for posterity. “Our mission is to look straight ahead,” she told a Lewiston audience earlier this year, “to focus on the issues that make a difference in people’s lives. That is the bottom line.” If you translate that into Sanskrit and then back into English, it comes out like this: “Our mission is to blah, to focus on blah, blah. That is the blah, blah, blah.”
An improvement, I think.
I don’t mean to imply the Senate candidates never say anything comprehensible on major issues. They do. Although, before they’re done, eyes tend to glaze over.
Slavick talks about almost nothing but bringing the war in Iraq to an immediate end, except for brief interruptions during which he tries to weasel out of admitting he’s anti-abortion.
Hay Bright occasionally takes a break from her own screeds against the war to call for universal health care and criticize Snowe for supporting President George W. Bush’s nominees to the US Supreme Court.
Given the opportunity, Snowe will eat up significant portions of your remaining life span explaining her stand on “net neutrality” (don’t ask). But until mid-October, she avoided any mention of her support for the war. And then, all she did was suggest that if things didn’t improve soon, perhaps the president ought to reassess his plans and try something different.
“I am deeply disturbed,” Snowe said.
At least, she admits her defects.