The Null Device

Getting Kinky in the governor's mansion

Kinky Friedman, arguably the world's most famous Jewish cowboy detective novelist and author of songs like Get Your Biscuits In The Oven And Your Buns Into Bed and They Ain't Makin' Jews Like Jesus No More, has announced that he will follow in the footsteps of Jesse Ventura and run for Governor of Texas.
Friedman is the latest representative of an American trend known to detractors as anti-politics and to the more charitable (including me) as narrative politics. The former argue that voters are demonstrating their contempt for democracy by choosing jokes; the latter that, for an electorate increasingly shaped by the grammar of movies and television, the most attractive candidate will be the one whose bid most closely resembles a Hollywood pitch. This makes non-politicians attractive because their very improbability becomes their compelling storyline.

Of course, the powers that be are cluing into this trend and running politically naïve but photogenic celebrity candidates whose platforms consist of vague motherhood statements about being against bad things and for good things, knowing that the real decisions the voters don't want to worry their pretty heads over will be delegated to faceless administrators and, some would say, unelected representatives of vested interests who will benefit from them; thus the causal chain between the popular election of politicians and the appointment of decision-makers is broken. (According to investigative journalist Greg Palast, one of Arnold Schwarzenegger's first actions as Governor of California was to basically let the managers of Enron off the hook for screwing Californians with rigged electricity prices.) Americans, however, seem to be eating it up; enough so that now there's a campaign to amend the Constitution to allow foreign-born Schwarzenegger to run for President in 2008.

Of course, which is not to say that the Kinkster is necessarily the pawn of powerful interests. Given his lack of a serious platform (or, for that matter, of his spouting of comfortingly "sincere" homilies), he's probably more like the American Screaming Lord Sutch than anything else.

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