I hope I live long enough to cast my vote against him

I hope I live long enough to cast my vote against him
                        

The governor of Montana has become the latest politician to announce his candidacy for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2020.

I’m not kidding.

I didn’t even know there were any Democrats in Montana, among the most reliably red states in the country, let alone one in the governor’s mansion.

Then again, about all I really know about Montana is that it’s huge and that hardly anyone lives there.

But Steve Bullock — that’s the governor’s name — has apparently convinced himself he’s ready for prime time.

That brings the total to something around 25 people seeking to knock off the current resident of the White House, a guy who no one thought had a chance of winning four years ago.

How’d that play out?

I suppose that’s why so many folks figure, “Why not me?”

I mean if recent history tells us anything, it’s there’s no underestimating the American public’s penchant for electing long-shot, unproven candidates.

And before you get all riled up, you know where I stand with Trump, so just give it a rest. My one remaining goal in life is to live long enough to cast my vote against him 18 months from now.

So good luck, Steve.

May the farce be with you.

Speaking of outsiders who won the White House, Jimmy Carter spoke at my college graduation, which was pretty cool, when you think about it.

I don’t remember much about his commencement address, given at Notre Dame on May 22, 1977, but I think it had something to do with peace in the Middle East.

See, that was one of Carter’s problems.

He never understood the importance of irony, and even when he tried it on for size, it never fit.

One of my personal favorites was the national address he gave, a reasoned talk detailing the seriousness of the energy crisis.

He spoke of personal sacrifice and commitment to a cause bigger than self interest and more important than consumer comfort.

He advised — no, implored — us to turn down our thermostats and to join a movement aimed at reducing our dependence on foreign oil.

He did all this while wearing a cardigan sweater in the Oval Office.

I thought I was hallucinating.

He looked like Fred McMurray about to give the facts of life talk to Chip Douglas in an episode of “My Three Sons.”

All he needed was a pipe and slippers.

But President Carter was about to get seriously schooled by one of the masters of media manipulation, one Ronald Wilson Reagan, who made it an art form.

Of course he was an actor by trade, another juicy slice of irony that didn’t elude many during his eight-year imperial reign, and until Obama came along, I never thought we’d see his like again.

The Gipper descended on Notre Dame several times — no surprise there — but that was after my time under the Golden Dome.

Back then we thought it was a pretty big deal to have a sitting president pay a visit, though the majesty of the occasion failed to move me at the time.

What I recall about that Sunday in May all those years ago is that I was pretty sick of the whole graduation ordeal. I had basically gone through the motions, academically speaking, that entire spring semester, preferring to spend most of my time with my girlfriend, who was a force of nature and nothing to be trifled with.

She was great and fun and all that, but she threw off my math.

Back then each prospective graduate had a maximum of five tickets to dispense as he or she chose. In my case it was simple.

My mother.

My father.

My sister.

My brother.

And my aunt, a South Bend resident whose house was open to me when I needed a place to get away from ND and all that pressure.

She offered me shelter from the storms, and I loved her for that.

So five tickets, five family members. No worries.

Well, I’m sure you can see the coming conflagration, but back then I missed all the signs. It was only after my ex-girlfriend became my current girlfriend that everything blew up.

She had come back into my life during the winter of 1976-77, and by spring we had become inseparable, practically living together in the house I shared with six other guys a few miles off campus.

“So,” she asked as my graduation day loomed, “what should I wear? A dress, yes?”

I should have been more diplomatic, maybe even played a card from the deck of irony, but I chose brutal honesty.

“You’re not going to be there,” I said. “I only have five tickets, and, well, they’re all spoken for. Sorry.”

It gets a little blurry after that, but I do recall that she tore the mirror off my bedroom wall and smashed it on the floor, screaming about how all I cared about was myself, that I was an egotistical, narcissistic so-and-so and that if she had anything to say about it, I’d never be able to look at myself the same way again.

It was all very dramatic.

As it turned out, my girlfriend watched the ceremony on color TV in the comfort of my aunt’s house and had a much better time than she would have if she’d been stuck in that jammed 12,000-seat arena with surly Secret Service agents everywhere and a president giving a boilerplate speech he could have delivered anywhere.

Politicians … you can have them.


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