Enduring presidential campaign rhetoric can be painful

Mike Royko

February 25, 1992|By Mike Royko | Mike Royko,Tribune Media Services

"Hello, I am running for president, and I would like to shake your hand."

"Nice to meet you."

"I can see by your face that you, like millions of other Americans, are in pain."

"Yes, that is true. I feel pain."

"You are hurting. Many Americans are hurting."

"Yes, I am hurting."

"I know. I can see your pain and feel your hurt, and that is why I am running. As your president, I will ease your pain and your hurt."

"How will you do that?"

"Through my vision for this country, my economic programs, my bold leadership."

"Gee, I don't know about that. How are your programs and leadership going to help my feet?"

"Your what?"

"My feet. That is why I am in pain. I have fallen arches. Always have. Runs in the family."

"No, I am talking about your inner pain."

"Oh, yeah, inner pain, I have that, too. Gas. You got a program for that? I'll tell you, if you come up with a cure for gas, you'll win in a landslide. Of course, if I laid off the spicy foods I'd be fine. Chili is the worst for me. I love the stuff but it really gives me the gut rumbles. You find a way to prevent that, and you'll get my vote."

"Thank you. But I was talking about the confusion you, an ordinary American, feel because we are confused, adrift, lacking a sense of direction."

"Hey, that's happened to you, too. With me, it's on Friday nights when I stop after work. Last week, I was so confused and adrift and lacking a sense of direction that I couldn't remember where I parked my car, so I had to take a cab home, and when I finally got there I thought my wife was going to take my head off. Then, the next morning, I was still feeling confused and adrift and I had to go back down and find my car, and wouldn't you know, there was a ticket under the wiper. You'd think the cops would have better things to do."

"I see. But I'm sure that you, like millions of other Americans, feel pain and are hurting because of the growing sense that we were once so strong and now our strength is being drained and we are becoming weaker."

"Isn't that the truth. I was hauling my golf clubs up from the basement the other day, and I felt like I'd walked 18 holes and I got this shooting pain in my knee. So now that you mention it, I have a lot of aches and pains. Do you have a program for gimpy knees?"

"Not specifically. I'm addressing the pain and hurt you, like millions of Americans, feel at not having a job."

"I don't have a job? You mean I was fired while I was sitting here having lunch?"

"No, I meant the pain and hurt caused by an uncertainty that your children will face a future that holds less promise for them than it did for us."

"That's for sure. Especially my oldest kid. Six months behind on his child-support payments, they repossessed his car, he's going to file for Chapter 11, and what does he do? He's on a skiing trip. I asked him how he can do that, and he says that as long as he's got his plastic, why not? Kids, they break your heart. You want to cure my hurt and pain, I'll tell you what -- how about you adopting him?"

"But don't you see that we must regain our sense of national purpose, redefine our priorities, re-establish our position of leadership in the global economy while rebuilding our infrastructure and reducing the deficit? And we must remember the forgotten middle class."

"You know, you're right. I forgot about the forgotten middle class. In fact, I forgot that I forgot about the forgotten middle class, and I'm glad you reminded me, so I'll remember to not forget about the forgotten middle class. But I forget what I was supposed to remember."

"If I am elected president, I will help you remember that the forgotten middle class is in pain and is hurting out there and I see the pain on the faces."

"Right, I forgot about the pain and the hurting. Must be a lot of fallen arches and gas. And I think there's a flu bug going around."

"Then I can count on your vote?"

"I don't know. There's something I don't understand."

"What's that?"

"If you see so much pain and hurting out there, how come you look so happy?"

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