Slightly Off Center

Slightly Off Center: An Exploratory Story

By Dennis Hinkamp

It's the new catch phrase, and early returns from voter polls are in.
The new catch phrase for 2007 apparently is “exploratory committee.” Nobody runs for office any more unless they first give a nod to Lewis and Clark and send out an exploratory committee. I image these committees suiting up behind a long line of sherpas as if mounting an assault on the Everest summit or an expedition to find the last living unicorn. In my mind’s eye, they are parachuting out of planes and hacking their way through dense forests of the voter’s psyche all across North America. What will they find? Will they survive? The media waits for answers like astronomers searching for proof of life in other solar systems.

No doubt this exploratory zeal will spill over in other aspects of life as we shop for cars, order pizzas or get married. I think we should replace the concept of “engaged to be married” with “forming an exploratory committee to ascertain the feasibility of our union.” The family pet will be subjected to an approval-rating poll before we decide to keep it for another four years.

Something is very wrong. It’s only January 2007 and this premature infatuation is like Home Despot putting out their Christmas decorations in July.

Just to test this exploratory committee thing, I sent out my own to get a better idea of my electability. My exploratory committee came back and reported, “Dude, you really should change your name and move to Iowa because you have more skeletons in your closet than a ConAgra kill floor.” Okay, so the world will be a better place and my relatives less embarrassed if I don’t run for office.

The exploratory committees have  started to send back information via secret encoded messages to an anxious public. Many lives were lost as members of exploratory committees were taken hostage by angry voters demanding less scary candidates.

These are few random quotes decoded from their messages:

When asked any question, 75% of NASCAR fans replied “Huh? Speak up.”

When asked about Hillary Clinton, they said “Hey how’d she get rid of her Arkansas accent? Wasn’t she married to a president? Wait, she’s from New York? What’s up with that? Isn’t Bill Clinton married to what’s-her-name now?”

Barack Obama is getting a lot of buzz, but half the people think Obama is an Irish name and the other half thinks he’s related to Osama Bin Laden. More than 10% of voters correctly identified him as “the black guy.”

Word on the street about John Edwards is “Didn’t he lose as a vice presidential candidate last time? How can he run?” Regarding New Mexico’s Bill Richardson, they said “He’s a senator from Mexico, how can he run for president of the United States?”

All that voters polled seemed to know about John McCain is that he’s always angry, but they could not correctly identify if he is a Democrat or Republican.

Mitt Romney was correctly identified as a Mormon, but many people’s heads exploded when told that he was also governor of a state that endorses gay marriage.

Those polled by the exploratory committees also verified that there is some guy from Delaware, another from Kansas and one from Ohio, Iowa or one of those other four letter states.

Dennis Hinkamp would like to thank his exploratory committee’s support, which made this column possible

This article was originally published on January 31, 2007.