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  (ARCHIVES)Back to Current
Nothing to wear? (10/26/2008)
By Frances Edstrom

It’s getting to be that time of year, when all I wish for is that I lived in a country ruled by a benevolent monarch. If only there was some way to get down to the basics and answer the only question that really matters: if I vote this person into office, how will it affect my life and the world around me? I have a feeling that somewhere out there is the answer, it’s just that it’s so hard to find!

Television just doesn’t cut it when it comes to gathering useful information. It makes you long for the days when Winona got only one channel, and that one only when weather conditions were right. Radio doesn’t try to sway public opinion on politics, except for NPR and paid talk radio hosts, who fill the airwaves 24/7 with their particular brand of partisanship.

The Internet is all over the place. You can find yourself reading something informative, and the next thing you know you’re reading that your candidate is actually an alien (and not from Mexico, either) and some guy in Nevada found the spaceship he came in on. And relying on e-mail for the real scoop is crazier still. (Although it is amazing what they try to sell, isn’t it? Is that really what men want?)

Traditionally, I have turned to newspapers for in-depth political coverage, but lately even there I’m finding more silly and shallow reporting masquerading as news.

Shouldn’t they be telling me where the candidates stand on the issues, instead of inking up pages of newsprint on how the Republican National Committee spent a bundle on clothes for Sarah Palin and her family? In the scheme of things — you know, nuclear bombs, terrorists, Wall Street, mortgage foreclosures and such — I’m having a hard time getting much out of that little tidbit.

What if, for instance, a big jet landed in Winona and a presidential candidate whisked you and your family off to a walk across the stage in front of thousands of people and national television cameras. Then they tell you you’ll be gone from home for a couple of months, during which your photos would be all over the national newspapers and television. And, you probably won’t have time to do laundry. (Should I take my “World’s Best Grandma” sweatshirt?)

Call me biased, but somehow Alaska doesn’t strike me as a place where people worry a lot about how they look. How fashionable are camo, hip boots, parkas and mukluks? Not to disparage my fellow Winonans, but I don’t see a lot of people dressed for national television walking the streets here, either. Well, maybe the Birthday Ball.

I tried to put myself in Sarah Palin’s place (God forbid!). I’m looking in my suitcase wondering what to wear to make a speech to the nation, or even half of it. My black suit would be nice, except I forgot to fix the hem. Thank God for Scotch tape. There’s the little pink number. (Who said you never wear a bridesmaid dress twice?) And then there’s the red sweater my husband likes so much because it reminds him of me in college. My black shoes are a little scuffy, and I could use a haircut. But I’m not the problem. In walks hubby. “You’re not going to wear that sweater, are you?” I ask. “Sure, why not?” he says. “Well, I thought you were saving it for trout fishing so the fish think you’re a tree standing along the bank,” I say, trying not to sound snide. “Okay,” he says, “there’s the suit I wore to your father’s funeral…”

Then the kids roll in, ages 0 to 19. The new baby is dressed in hand-me-downs with spit stains on the front. The grade-schooler looks okay if perhaps color-blind. The teenage girls are dressed more like Britney Spears than Chelsea Clinton, and the son going off to the military has put off buying anything presentable hoping soon to have Uncle Sam buy his duds.

All this and I’m supposed to be practicing a speech?

Frankly, I’d rather have the money spent on spiffing up the candidate than on an endless procession of stupid and annoying television ads that tell me nothing. But in the long run, I’d like to see the platform, put down in plain language for all to see. Silly me. 


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