Commentary: TV remote's mute button came in handy this election season

The Miami HeraldNovember 2, 2010 

As the days tick down drearily toward the mid-term elections, the mute button is our friend. Every time a political commercial comes on television, millions of Americans are lunging for their remote controls to turn off the volume.

This is a perfectly reasonable response to a nauseating blizzard of snarky lies, breathless exaggerations and ludicrous promises that will never, ever be kept.

Only a slobbering halfwit would fall for any candidate who vows to wipe out the national deficit while cutting taxes. It can’t be done, although it sounds pretty good in a 15-second sound bite.

Clearly, most political ads aren’t aimed at free thinkers, or those with a grasp of simple 6th-grade math. The commercials are meant to seed anger, frustration and fear, not necessarily in that order.

We know the script: All Democrats are tax-happy, job-killing liberals. All Republicans are flaky, right-wing extremists.

Mute button, please.

Once in a while, however, if you’re not quick enough on the trigger, you’ll catch a fragment of a campaign commercial so bizarre that it’s tempting to tune in.

In one hotly contested South Florida congressional race, Democratic incumbent Ron Klein has accused Republican Allen West of being too chummy with the notorious Outlaws motorcycle gang. How can we not be entertained by the possibility of a future congressman in street leathers?

Still, I was dubious at first. Having reported on the Outlaws back in my newsroom days, I could not recall a political component to their clubhouse activities, which were somewhat raucous and drug-fueled.

One time, I had a jailhouse interview with an Outlaw member, an accused murderer whose nickname was “Stitch.” While he was eager to chat about the handiness of a Bowie knife in certain barroom situations, Stitch offered no strong views on Jimmy Carter’s energy policies or the Mideast peace talks, both hot political topics of the time.

To read the complete column, visit www.miamiherald.com.

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