Presidential campaign 'legitimately' toxic?

TV ads could give new meaning to 'sexual politics'

August 23, 2012|Susan Reimer

I am so relieved that I don't live in a swing state.

I can sleep through Nov. 6 and wake up knowing that Maryland's Electoral College votes will be safely in President Barack Obama's pocket — or Gov. Martin O'Malley will be in witness protection.

Or I can do my civic duty and vote, without having to produce my birth certificate (the long form) and a cheek swab for a DNA test. Voter suppression is what they are doing in swing states this election — it's the flip side of loading people in a van to take them to the polls on Election Day.

But if I lived in a state like Pennsylvania, Maryland's neighbor to the north, or Virginia, our neighbor to the south, I would have to spend the next two months listening to the 60s station on XM radio or watching old episodes of "Modern Family" on the DVR to avoid the political ads that are going to fill the air.

President Obama and Mitt Romney are going to spend more than $1 billion on TV ads, and most of it will be in swing states. (I have this picture in my head of an undecided voter in one of those plexiglass phone booths, dollar bills blowing all around him.) And the airwaves will be as blue with trash talk as the line of scrimmage at a Steelers-Ravens game.

The political discourse in places like Ohio and Florida will be so "legitimately" toxic, my doctor friends and Missouri Congressman Todd Akin tell me, that the reproductive systems in women in swing states will shut down, preventing conception until after the airwaves are still.

Women in certain states, it seems, are so supremely sensitive to the verbal violence done in the name of democracy that they can secrete a super-secret spermicide during sex. No chance that a new life will emerge into this vile landscape.

(This is surprising news to those of us who thought the opposite was true — that women were slaves to the hormones pulsing through our plumbing. But it makes sense that if a woman can use her body to snare a professional athlete with child-support payments, she can shut it down when politicians start talking. Kind of a flesh-and-blood mute button.)

Sadly, this means no baby boomlet in the swing states nine months from now — often the happy result of major power outages, crippling snowstorms and Super Bowl victories.

But that is probably just as well. It would be difficult to explain to a child that he or she was conceived during a hail storm of lies, damned lies and character assassination.

"Mommy," I can hear that child asking in dismay, "weren't you paying attention? Wasn't your uterus paying attention?"

Counting backward on his fingers, the child might demand of his mother, "You actually liked all that horrible talk in 2012, didn't you? That's the only explanation. If you had felt the slightest revulsion for what had become of our national debate, you'd have never gotten pregnant."

"Everybody knows that's true! We learned it in our abstinence-only class at school."

Of course, mom might keep junior in the dark about his conception during the swing-state spitting contest between presidential candidates, never letting on that uterine lock-down when under assault was a medical myth.

She could just tell the kid he's from Maryland.

Susan Reimer's column usually appears Mondays and Thursdays. Her email is susan.reimer@baltsun.com.

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