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http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080421/ap_en_tv/tv_wwe_candidates_1;_ylt=AnIvNVq5w22FbBthXVeW8RME1vAI

Barack Obama, Hillary Rodham Clinton and John McCain will appear on World Wrestling Entertainment’s live “Monday Night Raw” but instead of smacking each other down, they separately will deliver some wrestling-themed stumping in taped messages before Tuesday’s Pennsylvania primary.

Please, PLEASE, someone tell me this is fake. A practical joke by the AP or a newbie’s mock story that accidentally slipped onto the wire.

This is a sad follow-up to a weekend story I chose to ignore, that of Bush appearing on a TV game show to root for a soldier-participant. I’m not even that old, but I have misty, watercoloured-memories of the Presidential TV appearances being limited to classier things like State of the Union addresses or emergency speeches from the Oval Office. I suppose I could chart a 30-year Flying Spaghetti Monster type graph to show how respect for the office has decreased as the 24-hour news cycle has developed.

Even sadder than the new self-determined toothlessness of the media is the pure desperation of the candidates. The result of the 24-hour news cycle is that they do, actually, need to take advantage of every headline or photo opportunity they can grasp in order for their candidacy to be taken seriously. (Interestingly, this points to the media’s role changing from watchdog to dog-walker. Or “dog-wagger”, if you prefer the political pun.) The campaign for President officially degrades into pandering. Pathetic.

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