Dear Matt, since the Penn State sex scandal has put sexual child abuse on the front page again, don’t you think it would send a better message for the presidential candidates to stop kissing babies, and to instead lay a big, messy wet one on any hot adult females in the crowd? – Ron K.
It would certainly encourage attendance at Michele Bachmann rallies. Mine, anyway. And some Republican candidates have reportedly tried this approach (Herman Cain), with mixed results. Personally, I’ve never had the experience of being a hot adult female. Though I have seen a lot of them on the internet. So I can only put myself in their place. And I’m not sure an inflamed, puckered-up Newt-face coming my way — with lust-light flickering in his cold, dead eyes — would be any sort of recipe for winning my vote. In fact, it might cause me to get gender-reassignment surgery while seeking citizenship elsewhere.
When running for governor of Texas some years ago, Kinky Friedman proudly told me, “I don’t kiss babies, I kiss their mothers.” And while I’m not sure anybody but the fringe-iest of candidates can get away with such amorous displays on the campaign trail (Kinky also refers to himself as a Jewish Cowboy who prefers to ride “two-legged animals” over horses), we ought to end the hideous and barbaric practice of kissing babies. Not only are babies innocent (of what, I’m uncertain, but whatever they’re guilty of, it doesn’t warrant the death sentence of being used as a Rick Perry campaign prop). But babies are also overrated, as far as cuteness goes. They’re bald, they have high body fat percentages, and they’re needy as hell. Have you ever tried leaving your baby alone in a car while running into Safeway to pick up a few things? I have. When you get back, it’s always “wahhhhh, my pacifier dropped … wahhhh, please crack a window so I can breathe” … on and on it goes. None of this is overtly stated, of course. It’s unspoken. Because babies aren’t terribly bright. If they were, they’d talk instead of cry.
Additionally, kissing babies encourages the worst kind of bank-shot pandering, which most politicians already do too much of. In this instance, they’re pandering to the lowest common denominator. For kissing a baby isn’t intended as a gesture to the baby. The baby is too clueless to know that a gesture is even being made (see dim babies clause, above). Rather, kissing a baby says to the baby’s parents, i.e. to the eligible voters, “I don’t know you, but I am trying to create instant intimacy by flattering you that this little lump of flesh and drool you have produced is an accomplishment worth noting.” Keep in mind, I’m pro-procreation. I’ve made babies, with my wife’s assistance. And we quite liked them. Still have them, in fact.
But sorry, making babies is not an accomplishment. Not really. Or if it is, it is an accomplishment that has been replicated some 108 billion times since the dawn of time, according to the Population Reference Bureau. Many of the dumbest people on earth have made babies. If Britney Spears and Kevin Federline can figure out how to make one, who can’t? In other words, we tend to love our babies, since they are little extensions of ourselves. And we love ourselves — so much so, that some of us even grow up to be politicians. But the mere fact that you have procreated puts you in pretty broad company.
So if politicians are going to keep nakedly sucking up to people, it’s time they started doing so to people who’ve at least accomplished things that have proved them worthy of being sucked up to. The next time Mitt Romney wades into a crowd, looking to lay his chaste Mormon kisser on an unsuspecting voter, that voter should at least be able to do a few card tricks, to pick up the 7/10 split while bowling, or to lick their own elbow (try it, it’s hard).
Matt Labash is a senior writer with the Weekly Standard magazine.His book, “Fly Fishing With Darth Vader: And Other Adventures with Evangelical Wrestlers, Political Hitmen, and Jewish Cowboys,” is now available in paperback from Simon and Schuster. Have a question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.