An Evil of Two Lessers

By: Thomas Lindaman

As any faithful reader of old Superman comics will tell you, one of Superman’s nemeses was Bizarro. For those of you who have lives, Bizarro was a backwards version of Superman from a planet known as Bizarro World. On Bizarro World, everything was the opposite of the way things were on Earth. Up was down, good was evil, Air America was successful. In other words, it’s what would happen if Congress took over the world.

I was thinking about this recently when pondering over why people saw Hillary Clinton and John McCain as the frontrunners for their respective party’s nominations. (Okay, so it was more like yelling and cursing than actual pondering, but you get the idea.) Neither one has the ideological stuff to be considered a true Democrat or a true Republican. So, why would these two non-traditional politicians be so popular with the traditionalists in their respective parties?

We’ve become Bizarro World.

Let’s start with Hillary Clinton. She’s voted in favor of the Iraq War (even though she’s come out later and said she’s against it now, kinda-sorta), which doesn’t put her on Cindy Sheehan’s Christmas card list. She’s in favor of at least some tax relief for middle and lower class people. She’s a feminist icon who has let her husband, Bill, walk all over her and has kowtowed to the traditionalists who want her to be more ladylike. By all standards, Hillary Clinton should be falling so far behind in the polls that Dennis Kucinich would look like William the Conqueror.

John McCain isn’t much better. He’s voted against the Bush tax cuts. He’s called for closing down Gitmo. He’s supported amnesty for illegal immigrants. In fact, on just about every “conservative” issue, McCain’s been on the other side with the mathematical certainty only equaled by the likelihood that at some point during the day Ted Kennedy will be drunk. Look up the definition of RINO (Republican In Name Only) in the dictionary, and you’ll find McCain’s picture.

None of this explains the “why,” though. Personally, I think it has everything to do with the make-up of American society right now. To say Americans are indecisive and intellectually inconsistent is like saying the Miami Dolphins had a bit of a slump this season.

To that end, Hillary Clinton and John McCain represent the kind of Democrat and Republican many Americans want them to be. Instead of having strong convictions that won’t be compromised except under the most extreme of circumstances, they’re both squishy and will let circumstance dictate their positions. And if our convictions are anything like our waistlines, we’re not much better. Most of us know deep down inside that we’re walking contradictions at best, so in our minds, by not demanding more of our political leaders, we’re protecting ourselves.

But that kind of protection has a price. (Usually, it’s somewhere around $49.95.) By not dealing with the reality of a situation, we risk inventing a false reality that prevents us from taking the action we need to take to remain safe. It’s like those anti-bacterial hand lotions that people use. We think we’re protecting ourselves against illness when, in fact, we may be hurting ourselves by killing off the “good bacteria” in and on our bodies. Then, when a flu bug that your body isn’t ready for hits you, all the anti-bacterial lotion in an obsessive-compulsive’s medicine cabinet won’t help you.

Now, apply this to the Presidency. A wishy-washing, indecisive, contradictory leader can be considered popular and competent if we’re all holding him or her to standards so low an ant could limbo under it. But if there’s a major crisis, like…oh I don’t know…Imadinnerjacket deciding to nuke Seattle just to prove he doesn’t have nuclear weapons, those qualities we liked about the leader become hindrances. And nothing will make your approval numbers sink more than watching a major American city known for grunge music, professional sports teams who choke like Mama Cass around ham sandwiches, and Starbucks be turned into a Grande Nucleo-Latte.

At times like these, we need strong leaders. The economy is shaky, terrorists still want to kill us for being Americans, and somewhere down the road, Jennifer Lopez will put out another CD. Who do we want to lead us through these times: someone who has an internal GPS formed by principle, strength, and moral courage, or someone whose principles, strength, and moral courage is tested by that age-old question “paper or plastic”? I can’t speak for you (mainly because I don’t know what all of you sound like), but I’m going to go with the first option. I may not agree with where we’re going, but at least I know there’s a map being used so I can get the heck back to where I started from.

With people like John McCain and Hillary Clinton, you’re lucky if they can lead you across the street to a neighbor’s house without heading through Nebraska, Timbuktu, and every Shoney’s east of the Mississippi. Although I do have to say Shoney’s has a pretty good breakfast buffet, so it might not turn out to be completely bad after all.

Thomas Lindaman is a Staff Writer for the New Media Alliance, Inc. and The New Media Alliance is a non-profit (501c3) national coalition of writers, journalists and grass-roots media outlets. He is also Publisher of

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