Entry from October 4, 2004

As I did on each day of the Republican convention, I am writing poetry for broadcast on National Public Radio’s “All Things Considered” after each of this year’s presidential and vice-presidential debates. The poems are broadcast side by side with ones by Calvin Trillin, who is writing on the same subject but with a rather different point of view. The first of this series of poems I have titled The Ballad of the Media Critic.

Oh the Media tell the story,
And the Media they relate
Which Side is glad or sorry
As the Candidates debate.

And it’s no good cheering Kerry,
Or for Bush to make a Plea,
Or to cite Tom, Dick or Harry
Once the Media all agree.

They don’t take long to tell us
Who has won and lost the Game,
And lest they seem too zealous
A Snap Poll will say the same.

So it’s Kerry who’s the Victor
On this bright October Dawn:
His Self-control it was the stricter,
And so George gives way to John.

For he looked less ‘presidential’ —
Ah! Beneath his Tan he pales! —
For it comes with the Credential,
Of the Media Critic, Shales.

No, it wasn’t Kerry’s “Summits”
Nor his “reaching out” that shot
The fatal Dart by which Bush plummets
From the Pollsters’ favor’d Spot.

And though his “Message” isn’t “Mixed,”
Though he’s strong still for “Hard Work,”
What’s wrong with him cannot be fix’d
When he says it with a Smirk.

Oh some men fight for Honor
And some they’ll fight for Gain,
And in far Iraq they’re fighting still
Through Tears and Blood and Pain,

But in a presidential Contest
They fight to see who’ll be —
And pass the one true “Global Test” —
The Guy who looks good on TV.

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