"Please, please tell me that you're not writing about the Obama-Romney debate," my cousin Dieter said.
"I am, and what are you gonna do about it?" I lied.
In fact, I was fixin' to write about DC Comics and "The New 52," one year later. But my cousin is given to a certain querulous, demanding tone of voice that so grates on me that I am disposed to get defensive even though there's no cause for it.
"Look, Romney is full of shit, but he won the debate," Dieter said.
"That's debatable in itself," I shot back. "If they can strip Lance Armstrong of his seven Tour de France victories for supposedly taking performance enhancing drugs and then lying about it, then I don't see why we ought to hand Romney the title of Winner of the Debate when he told one bald-faced lie after the next. He lied about his tax plan. He lied about the 'death panels' deciding who gets what kind of health care under Obamacare. He lied about the government deficit under Obama. He lied about Obama taking $716 billion away from Medicare and using if for his health plan. And he lied about what he'd do to the average American once he got his hands on the presidency."
"Right, right," Dieter yawned.
"As a friend put it, his 'bounce is based on lies,' " I added.
"Uh huh," Dieter said. "And so what? We know Romney will say anything and then turn around and say the exact opposite with a straight face and pretend he never said whatever he said before. But the real problem is that Obama didn't fuckin' nail him to the wall for his lies."
"That's because Obama was so flabbergasted at Romney's biggest lie of all: The way he was talking like a Democrat! Romney actually saying that business needs government oversight? Did everyone on the political right have an aneurysm right then and there? It was like watching the Republican National Convention all over again, only even more of a vanilla-scented whitewash of their actual platform and true philosophy!"
"Look," Dieter said, slapping a folder onto my desk, "no one cares. No one who tuned in thinking he was gonna vote for Obama has changed his mind. No one who already knew he was voting for Romney changed his mind. And everyone else? The 'swing voters?' Well, I guess we'll see. It's up to Obama to seize the moment and get his mojo back next time, but even if he doesn't... so what? W. lost all three debates against Kerry and he still won in 2004."
Well, this was true. I admit, for a slacker dolt with almost as poor a grasp on reality as the GOP, my cousin does sometimes display a surprising flash of perspicacity.
That, as it turned out, was what he was counting on.
"Here's the deal," Dieter said, sliding into Salesman Mode. "I'm sure you have excellent reasons for wanting to write a political column this week..."
"Uh huh," I said, though (as I might have mentioned earlier) I was so disgusted with this whole electoral cycle that I had planned to write on comic books. "Do you want me to share those reasons with you?" I added, sarcastically.
"What? Hell, no," Dieter said. "I want you to consider this: Who wants another rehash of Romney's Whoppers? That guy has served up more bullshit burgers with cheese than all of the empty calories hawked by all of America's fast food joints combined. He's the fizzy, sizzly candidate with nothing to say except for whatever he thinks Joe Neckbone wants to hear, and if Joe Neckbone wants to hear the exact opposite next Thursday, that's what Romney will say. Welcome to Etch-A-Sketch land!
"Sure, Romney will reach across the aisle!" Dieter continued. "You know why? Because Democrats will actually work with a Republican president, which is something you can't say about a Republican congress dealing with a Democratic president."
"Did you have a point you were getting to?" I prompted.
"Only this. Why worry about tracking down every one of Romney's bogus claims when they are only gonna shift into new bogus claims in a couple of days? Romney is proud to say that doesn't employ fact checkers, and even though he told Obama that the President is 'not entitled to your own facts,' Romney felt completely entitled to pull any fact, no matter how untrue, out of his hair and on demand. So what you need, Cuz, isn't a column denouncing Romney, but a column about the absurdities of the election itself."
"Isn't that what we're talking about?"
"No!" Dieter declared in triumph. "We're talking about my novel!"
Oh my gawd. The novel.
Dieter has been trying for years to get me to serialize his novel in this space. It's a book about a man who, overwhelmed by meaningless information, spontaneously acquires a kind of second sight that allows him to see all events in the world... not only the world we know, but the world as it exists in alternate quantum realities.
Until now Dieter has campaigned on the "Dr. Prazelius" platform, by which I mean, he's wanted me to excerpt passages about a cross-dressing housewife whose case of penis envy is so out of control that she becomes a would-be global dictator. She raises transgenic orchids in a subterranean lair (as any decent super-villain would). The orchids, crossed with DNA from a tribe of sex fiends known as "Pangaean Wildeboys," produce a milky fluid that, even in its unrefined state, is a powerful opiate. Sold on the street as "bliss jism," the drug supplies Dr. Prazelius with the funds she needs to pursue an elaborate plot combining politics, religion, and terrorism to take over the country and, eventually, the entire world.
But now Dieter wanted to get me to put something about the electoral process into my column? Something from his filthy, unreadable novel?
"Of course!" Dieter crowed. "Who cares that Romney lied, Obama stretched the truth, Romney flip-flopped yet again, Obama was speaking of a best-case scenario, blah blah blah. The whole goddamn thing is so putrid that it screams for satire."
Actually... Well, actually... Actually, Dieter had a point. In the face of Romney for President, what could be more perfect than the sheaf of lunatic ravings he likes to call a novel?
So, dear readers, be warned. The next column won't be about comic books. It'll be Cousin Dieter's take on the electoral process. Don't expect to make sense out of it. But then again, hell, don't expect to make sense of this Super-PAC driven mess of lies and gibberish we call politics in 2012.