Over the years, there have been many occasions when I have noticed that my children seem to be headed inexorably down the road to law school (this, of course, begs the question: “If the road to Hell is paved with good intentions, then what is the road to law school paved with?” One answer: “White Ford Broncos and empty cans of Red Bull”). This tendency of theirs towards “lawyerosity” is perhaps at its most obvious when it comes to their adept use of what they see as “loopholes” in the parental justice system. An example of this would be when they argue that they are not breaking the rule against having a bowl of cereal right before dinner because they are, in fact, eating it right out of the box.
Then there is also their use of the “if there is no law against it, it must be ok” defense. This usually manifests itself in the use of such closing arguments as “But you never said we weren’t allowed to tap dance naked on top of the TV while juggling a pair of cats!”. (It is at times such as these that I understand why cities pass arcane laws like the one about it being illegal to walk an alligator down the boardwalk after noon on a Sunday. Surely any parent that has had to institute such rules as “there are to be no more than 2 people and/or animals–including aquatic ones–in the bathtub at any one time” can envision the exigent circumstances that could lead to an otherwise sane city council passing a law against whistling “The William Tell Overture” while eating a bowl of spaghetti.)
Recently, though, due to a spate of excuses that have been downright Clintonian in their disingenuousness (“You told me not to hit my brother, and I wasn’t; I was kicking him.”) I have come to realize that my children are not just headed down the subpoena-slicked road to law school, but are in fact headed somewhere even less wholesome than that: they are headed into politics. (Question: “What is the road to politics paved with? Answer: “Nothing yet–it’s a Halliburton contract.”)
It was the upcoming presidential election that first alerted me to this. (OK, I’ll admit that I’m using the word “upcoming” rather loosely here. Let’s just say the presidential election is “upcoming” in the same sense that any foreseeable ending to the Anna Nicole Smith saga is “upcoming”). The thing about the presidential election is that nobody just announces their run: first there is the establishment of an exploratory committee, then there is the announcement of the intent to announce, followed thereafter by the announcement of the actual time of the announcement itself, all of which is followed finally, and somewhat anticlimactically, by the actual announcement. (As a sort of denouement, this is usually followed sometime later by the announcement that the candidate, due to lack of support, has decided to withdraw from the race.)
This is exactly the same series of events that emerges whenever my children are asked to clean their rooms. First there is the “exploratory committee.” This is what is happening inside their heads directly after they are asked to perform the chore, and involves vital, pressing questions like, “If I just pretend I didn’t hear her, will she go away?” Next comes the announcement of intent to announce (“I’m going to do it! Just give me 5 more minutes!”) followed by the announcement itself (“OK! I’m doing it! Sheesh!”), and then, just like in the real presidential race, the withdrawal due to lack of support ( “I can’t do it; it’s too hard.”)
And then, of course, there is the final, and most damning similarity: if you decide to watch either event all the way through to the end, then you’re most certainly going to be wading through an awful lot of crap.