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You don't have to be crazy to win elections, but it helps

September 22, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

Here's some frightening news: Crazy is the new normal.

It's not my theory. It's brought to us by Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz, who is trying to figure out how and why certified fruitcakes are able to win elections these days.

I don't need to run down the list of insane ideas and insane people who have triumphed this political season.

But I will because it makes me strangely happy.

Where to begin? Bicycles are a United Nations plot to dominate the world. Masturbation is evil, but witchcraft is OK. My financial mismanagement makes it easier for me to relate to the average person. Civil rights is a bad thing. Wall Street crooks are a good thing. Social Security must be killed. Unemployment benefits are unconstitutional. Welfare recipients need mandatory courses in hygiene.

Being a media critic, Kurtz is quick to criticize the media. When the media point out other people's craziness, it actually legitimizes those people because everyone hates the media.

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The more we see clips of poor Christine O'Donnell chattering on about masturbation, the more sympathy we'll start to feel for her.

I like Howard Kurtz, but I think he's way overthinking this one. I feel sorry for Mike Tyson, but I'd never vote to put him in the Senate. And it's pretty self-centered to think that people view everything in life based on the media's outlook.

To be honest, I don't think people in general give the media that much thought one way or the other. Although, obviously, I wish they did.

A more interesting take comes from Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, who says that loons have been mainstreamed so they just don't seem that remarkable to us anymore.

If we no longer flinch when we see someone chowing down on bugs, how are we going to be moved by a politician giving a speech in front of a turkey-slaughtering line?

From MTV to "Entertainment Tonight" to reality television to cable news programs -- crazy people are a dime a dozen.

What, you just ate your brother-in-law's foot? Take a number, you're only what we would call mildly nuts around here.

I know I have become steeled to it. I can even go to a discount superstore these days without eating a couple of Xanax.

It's like, remember the first time you saw a boxy little minivan/car hybrid and you went, "Ugh, that's horrible." Now, there are so many boxmobiles running around, you never give them a second thought.

There might be something to this -- imagine if some woman in the era of Eisenhower, Kennedy or Lyndon Johnson started babbling about witchcraft. You think she could have won nomination to the U.S. Senate?

But today? Ain't no thang. It might have been a long time in the making, but now the line between politics and entertainment has become hopelessly blurred.

And well it should be.

If this whole health care thing works and if financial reform works, maybe I'll change my tune. But right now, I don't see much happening in Washington that is materially above and beyond an episode of "The Beverly Hillbillies."

It's time we took off the blinders and started viewing politics for what it is -- a cheap diversion from the hard reality of everyday life. And if it takes some crazy people in office to make it happen, I say, what have we got to lose?

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 6997, or by e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com">timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com">opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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