Or is it something else?
[RONNI HERE: As the subtitle says in the banner above, Time Goes By is about “What it's really like to get old.” That's what I cover here, ageing, and that's what it will continue to be.
But when it came time to write today's blog post, I was in such a bad mood about U.S. campaign politics and the news coverage of it, that was all I could think about. Maybe it's an opportunity for us all to vent for a day (it is for me).
Our regularly scheduled programming will resume on Wednesday.
The Iowa caucuses take place today. At last. It seems to me that the lead-up has been going on for at least a year (it feels like 10) and I wasn't sure this day would ever arrive. I cannot be the only person who is suffering from campaign fatigue, worn out, sapped of the strength to care about any of them anymore.
But the gawdawful thing is that today's caucuses won't stop or even slow the 24/7 campaign and so-called news coverage of it.
The New Hampshire primary is hard on the heels of Iowa, then South Carolina, Nevada is in there somewhere and not too far down the road Super Tuesday, etc.
I am seriously worried that my mind will not survive intact from the useless mush being fed us by the candidates themselves and the media.
The only question left is what good this constant avalanche of campaign coverage is for voters? It's gone on for so long already that anyone who has only vaguely heard some news in the background a couple of times a week pretty well knows where every candidate stands on every possible issue.
Well, except for Donald Trump who has no issues but his poll numbers. Even on that one, the media has spent so many millions of words supposedly to explain him that you would think it's difficult. It is not.
I knew a couple of braggarts exactly like Mr. Trump when I was in fourth grade. The rest of us just ignored them then and they soon shut up. Apparently the news media didn't learn that trick when they were in school.
That's who I blame for my brain having reached meltdown – the news people. It's not like they have used the 24/7, two-year campaign to educate us about the crucial issues facing the U.S. and the world.
Just like Mr. Trump, they are concerned only with poll numbers and fill the time between each new survey with a bunch of uninformed talking heads whose abilities are better suited to covering the Kardashians.
It hasn't always been like this, you know. I spent a great deal of my working life in news and related media and I'm proud of the job my colleagues and I did in those days.
A big part of the deterioration since then is that there used to be time to research the story, do all the homework, track down the facts, check rumors against reality, find real experts on the subject and put it all together in a coherent package people could understand, while aiming for as little bias as can be achieved. We didn't always reach all the goals but we generally did a better job than now.
Today, with the internet and 24-hour TV news, the requirements are different and simple: fill the time - all 24 hours of it each day. It doesn't matter if what you say (or read what someone else wrote for the TelePrompTer) makes any sense or illuminates the story.
There are rare exceptions with a few reporters but the operative word is “rare.”
Simultaneously, the individual campaigns have become full-time, perpetual “shows." That's what they are now, entertainment designed to please and pander this constituency or that, and the candidates have long figured out that they must campaign full time, all the time - no respite for them or us for a day or two now and then - to become well known enough to reach the Oval Office.
I remember the exact moment I came to understand this. It was the evening of election day in 2008. While speaking with a friend on the telephone as we each watched the returns on television in our respective homes, as Barack Obama's win was announced I said, “Well, the 2012 election begins tomorrow.
I was half kidding. I thought so, anyway. But when I turned on the news the next morning, two or three politicians had already announced they would be running against Obama in the 2012 presidential election.
And the worst of that is that I'm pretty sure now that the never-ending, no-break presidential campaign had been going on for a long time by then and I had only just noticed.
I believe the biggest reason Donald Trump leads the other Republicans in the Iowa and New Hampshire contests (and some national polls) is that unlike the other candidates, he is already a reality TV star so no one has work at getting to know him.
But back to the perpetual campaign - how can any president – doesn't matter which party – possibly govern in any effective manner if before he or she is inaugurated, the next campaign has begun? And how is that good for the U.S.? Or in the 21st century connected world?
This 2016 episode of the campaign show feels even worse than in the past because of the boredom induced by the mind-numbing repetition of Trump's poll numbers, his fourth grade braggart's constant attacks on any- and everyone, and his profoundly simplistic solutions to problems he apparently does not grasp.
But that doesn't let the others off the hook.
I am exhausted by the petty and naive nature of this campaign. I don't believe the international community has ever faced such a dire and complex set of issues as there is now, any one of which could change the world as we know it. It frightens me that no one in the field for president seems to know this. Even if they do, I don't think any one has any answers (in fairness, who could?) but at least there should be a reasoned debate in the campaign and there has been none.
FRIENDLY REMINDER: I'm taking a big chance with this post. One good reason not to do politics on a blog is to avoid nasty trolls and other vitriol from commenters against one another. Let me remind everyone today, none of that is acceptable here.
Certainly disagree - with me or any commenter. Argue, in the best sense of the word, with one another too. But the rule here remains the same: keep it civil. No one gets a second chance. If you cross the line, your comment will be removed and you will be permanently banned from this blog.