'60 Minutes' Legend Declares 2012 Tea Party Candidacy

by Andy Rooney

Did you ever notice that from time to time The Awl offers its editorial space to citizens with a point of view? It’s true, we totally do. Today we hear from a man with a lot on his mind.

I watched the Republican debate on Fox the other night. It was in Iowa. I’ve been to Iowa so I can tell you a thing or two about corn. Corn isn’t all that different from politics; both of them flourish in cow flop. No wonder presidential campaigns always start in Iowa.

But the debate, if you can call it that, made me realize that there are a lot of elderly curmudgeons out there complaining that our government is an enemy of its people and I know that because I am one of those elderly curmudgeons complaining that our government is an enemy of its people. People who feel this way are called the “Tea Party,” even though it doesn’t seem like they care all that much for proper tea. Neither do I. But then, the Republicans don’t seem to care all that much for proper republics, so we’ll call it even.

Anyway, this realization is why I’m announcing my Tea Party candidacy for President of the United States for 2012. You’ll probably want to know what my policy positions are.

When it comes to criminal justice, I have some radical ideas, and by radical, I mean the kind of ideas I’ve heard asked around the coffee machine for years. I believe in rehabilitation. But just because it has the word “bill” in it, doesn’t mean the taxpayer should get one. Did you know that it costs tens of thousands of dollars a year to house a prisoner? My house has bars and nobody gives me thousands of dollars to be in it. In fact, I usually only get paid when I leave. And why does it cost the same to house a murderer as a pickpocket? Their crimes to society aren’t the same, so the why should the annual cost to rehabilitate each one be? My administration would create individual prisons for each crime. A prison for murderers would have all the fancy expensive bells and whistles, while a prison for thieves would just be made of molded concrete, so they couldn’t steal anything else.

National Debt
I saw something in the newspaper saying that our national debt is over $11 trillion. It said that if you stacked all those dollars end to end, they would reach past the moon. Such an attempt sounds a lot like one of the useless government research projects that got us to such a high debt in the first place. I think one of the real reasons so few seem concerned about the debt is that nobody knows how much a trillion dollars is. That’s why one of my first acts as chief executive would be to demand all reports about the debt be in terms of something everyday Americans understand, like how many gallons of gas the debt is or the number of #1 McDonald’s hamburger meal deals the debt would buy. But not the supersized ones, our nation is already too supersized. Anyway, I bet people will pay more attention then.

The Deficit
The debt is not the deficit, or so I’m told. It’s hard to understand the difference. I know that it’s also too high though. I think the word “deficit” has “deaf” in it because anytime anyone brings it up in Washington, everyone pretends they can’t hear. As president, I don’t know exactly what I would do to fix the deficit but there seems a lot of places a little extra money can be made. For instance, with Hollywood so eager to make a movie about Osama bin Laden’s death, why not auction movie rights to the highest bidder? That would be sure to make at least a few million, which of course is what it costs to fix a few potholes these days. Not that I ever see any potholes getting fixed on my street.

National Defense
Why is it called national defense spending when all we seem to do is be on the offense? My administration would stop the use of “national defense.” I would employ a Secretary of Offense, and then we’d see how popular he is. I’d consult with Ron Paul on this, as he seems to have some good ideas, even if he has two first names.

America is also now involved in three wars. Sure, we don’t officially call them wars, but the kids in the foxholes aren’t armed with semantics. It would be my policy that America would not enter any foreign conflict if less than 75 percent of the population could find the country on a map.

Quality of Life
Here’s a campaign promise you can take to the bank. Any legislation that crosses my desk that restricts eyebrow length for Americas will be vetoed. No ifs, ands or buts about it. Veto.

Same Sex Equality
When I was growing up, to be gay meant to be happy. It seems as America has gotten more “gay,” it’s gotten less gay. That’s too bad. Now, I’ve heard some of these men refer to themselves as “twinks.” To me, that sounds a lot like “Twinkie.” Believe me, I love Twinkies. I ate my first Twinkie with Loretta Green on the half-price Tuesday night ferris wheel ride, but only because I wanted to do anything with my mouth other than have to talk. I was a shy kid. Twinkies don’t taste like much so I don’t know why anyone would want to identify with one. And given how married people are always shown as fighting, I’m not sure why anyone would want to fight so hard to be able to be married.

What’s an earmark? A scar from an earring? Why don’t they just call it a name everyone can understand, like “Unnecessary Spending?” Or maybe that would be too obvious. At my age, I may not be able to always balance myself, but that doesn’t mean I don’t know how to balance a budget. It’s basically like eating; you want to have about the same amount go into your mouth as comes out the other end. Pork spending is just like pork eating, it never almost comes out the other end, and when it does, it’s often not in the way you’d hoped.

The Economy
Every notice “economy” only has “my” in it and not “yours?” Maybe that’s the problem.

Medicare is an important program that we need to save. But I don’t think many people my age know what it costs to go to the doctor. My administration would mandate that all clinics and hospitals put a price list on a big sign over the counter where you sign in, just like they have at fast food restaurants. A colonoscopy is $500. A treatment for flu, $90. There could even be “meal deals,” where a person could get a discount for getting a boil lanced at the same time as having a broken finger set. Who knows how much that would save Medicare a year, but it would certainly make us all more aware of our health care spending.

I hope my campaign can count on your local Tea Party group’s support, or at least that you’ll deny it to my competitor.

Andy Rooney makes observations.