Janesville25.4°

Caught in the prop wash

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Rick Horowitz
August 8, 2008

Maybe he gets to be president. Maybe he doesn’t.


But however it turns out this November, John McCain has already achieved something no one can ever take away from him.


He’s definitely the Man of the Year for the American Tire Gauge Association.


Who’d have imagined it when this election campaign started, a mere decade or two ago? (Or does it only seem that long?) But here we are, inside 100 days, and you don’t need “CSI” to figure out that what matters now is psi.


The experts always warned about the pressure of a presidential race. Who knew they meant this kind of pressure?

After all, when the Federal Reserve Board says it’s concerned about inflation, this isn’t what they’re talking about. But it’s certainly what the rest of us are talking about. And for that, the nation owes John McCain one big straight-from-the-hose, 75-cents-for-three-minutes inhale.


Enjoy it, Mr. M. You’ve earned it.


And in tire-gauge assembly plants from coast to coast, grateful workers raise a heartfelt toast. They’ve been kissed by happenstance. John decides to mock Barack, and suddenly everything is different. Tire gauges are flying out of the stores. Tire gauges are being handed out as gifts. The tire gauge is the hottest thing since the latest iPhone, and you never have to worry about battery life.


All it takes is a little shove from the gods. A positive shove.


Are there negative shoves? Ask the poor folks who grow tomatoes. After all, it wasn’t tomatoes that made all those people sick earlier this summer, but tomatoes took the hit for it. Tens of millions, even hundreds of millions of dollars in vanished sales—and it was all the pepper’s fault!


Where’s the justice in that?


But it was a different spin of the planets in the tire-gauge universe, wasn’t it? John decides to mock Barack, and suddenly the world is a better place. Suddenly there’s a political prop du jour, and it’s theirs.
No matter that John got a shock when he mocked Barack. No matter that, after almost a week of synchronized ridicule, the McCain campaign—or, more precisely, the candidate himself (who doesn’t seem to read all the message-of-the-day memos from the McCain campaign)—found himself admitting that Barack Obama had been on to something. That keeping your tires properly inflated actually is an effective way to get better fuel mileage, as NASCAR and AAA and everybody else who knows anything about tires had been insisting for years.
Unwilling to concede total cluelessness on the subject, McCain then grumbled something about how proper tire inflation certainly doesn’t strike him as a comprehensive plan for American energy independence. Which, of course, Obama—possessing at least as much brain power as the average fence post—had never come close to suggesting.

And the larger meaning of it all? Doesn’t there have to be a larger meaning when the two candidates for the highest office in the land spend their valuable time (and ours) squabbling over this kind of stuff?


Chalk it up to August, when the trivial tends to reign supreme.


But don’t let the tire-gauge people hear you—they don’t think it’s trivial at all. This is an August that will live on in their memories.


For one brief, shining moment…


Rick Horowitz is a syndicated columnist. You can write to him at rickhoro@execpc.com.

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