Who is minding the store?

“We at the Obsession Clinic clinic would like to welcome our latest patients: Sen. Clinton, Sen. Obama, Gov. Richardson. Would you mind taking your seats behind ex-Sen. Edwards and Mr. Giuiliani?

“As you can see, our group is growing quite large. I’m sure we will welcome more patients in the next few weeks.

“Now, all of you have been referred here by your psychiatrists. This is their attempt to help you understand this obsessive compulsion problem you all share. This need you have to constantly run for office. Everyone in this group is running for the White House. The election for which is, dare I say, nearly two years away.

“For those of you who are in office at the moment, a small joke. Whassat, senator? Oh, I wasn’t referring to your office as a joke, sir. Forgive me. No, I have a joke for you.

“The old jewelry store owner was dying. His six children were gathered around his bed. He asked whether each of them was there: My beloved daughter Julie? My sterling first son, Nathan? My beloved wife, Elizabeth? After he had been assured each of them was with him he shot bolt upright in bed and shouted ‘Well who in the hell is minding the store?’

“I tell this joke because some voters ask the same thing about you. Their elected officials. For twenty months you will be running day and night for the White House. You will be raising money at every turn. Yet you were elected to be senators and representatives and governors. You are paid to be such.

“I have a feeling you will never ask yourself the question. Addicts never do. So I will ask it. On behalf of millions of voters, I ask you: Who in the hell is running the store? You will tell me you delegate the work to your staff. I’m afraid that is a pathetic answer.

“Do you believe in your heart that an employer would allow you to do this? If you were a CEO would your board of directors be happy to pay you? While you traipsed across the country, gobbling rubber chicken luncheons and kissing babies by the thousands? Wouldn’t they ask ‘Who is running our store?’

“Now, for those of you who are not currently in office but running for the White House. Do you realize you have become welfare recipients? Do you realize you are on the dole? You do not have meaningful employment. Being unemployed, you are dependent upon campaign funds for your income. And being unemployed, you are asking millions of Americans to give you a pretty big job. Think about that, if you will.

“Now, this clinic has a standing offer to try to break you of this obsession. An anonymous donor has offered a million dollars to any presidential candidate who agrees to limit campaigning. I saw some of you gulp at even the thought. Yes, to limit campaigning to three months before the primaries.

“Any takers? I didn’t think so. We have never had any.

“Now some of you have asked why you were referred to this clinic. What we are trying to do here is to keep the obsession of yours from spreading. Imagine if people running for mayor ever become obsessed as you are. And people running for city council. And people running for school boards. Imagine them working their campaigns for twenty months. Why, the public would be absolutely swamped with political advertising. Not that it isn’t already.

We are also trying to spare you the trials of twenty months of campaigning. Twenty months of begging for money. Twenty months of taking positions, changing them, forgetting them, ignoring them. Twenty months of belittling your opponents. Twenty months of opponents rummaging through your closets in search of skeletons. Twenty months of luncheons and dinners and testimonials. And pretending you like them. Mrs. Clinton, do you realize Chelsea used to think the family dinner table was not complete without a podium and emcee? And rubber chicken.

Incidentally, much of our funding comes from PETA. You know, the organization concerned with the welfare of animals. PETA figures that for every presidential candidate it gets to cut campaigning by half, a million chickens will have had their lives spared.

From Tom ... as in Morgan.

For more columns and for Tom’s radio shows (and to write to Tom): tomasinmorgan.com.

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