Pandering A Pre-election Tradition

For a political columnist, the last two weeks before the election threaten sandstorms. Aridity reigns. The debates or forums have concluded. The campaigns have bought all the television time they can find. And the well-heeled candidates’ messages greet us ad nauseum around the nightly news.

But by this point in the campaign, a voter could skate over those messages. They’re smoother than smooth. No jagged edges will crop up, nothing that will embarrass anybody.

Barring scandal, only one big political story remains before Aug. 9: the Hawaii Poll, sponsored by Honolulu Star-Advertiser and Hawaii News Now. Its results will be aired and published after this goes to press. Ward Research does the polling, directed by the redoubtable Rebecca Ward.

I call this biennial political desert “Waiting for Becky.”

So what’s a weekly columnist to do? Could I write about my daughter’s wedding? Oh, done that, haven’t I?

Let’s try shamelessness. The political season should remind us of the utter shamelessness of those who practice politics. Count the number of pols, from the top to the bottom of the party tickets, who have pounded their chests about stopping Gov. Abercrombie from taxing the pensions of our kupuna. They could fill a banquet hall.

Or those who intone, after President Obama, “I will wake up every morning thinking about how to protect the middle class.”

Come on. Give us a break. How many times will they awaken thinking, “I sure raked it in at last night’s fundraiser,” or “What’s for breakfast?” Or “Thank God! Another two-week congressional recess begins today!”

Our candidates claim credit for saving beaches, jobs and air quality.

They breathe life into economies, build affordable housing (somewhere amid those high-rise canyons), and introduce bills to protect this, that and the other thing. All is done, of course, for the keiki, the kupuna and the preservation of the middle class — all in six days without resting the seventh.

Then there’s the slicing and dicing in search of votes. This position for the geezer vote. That one for the veterans. Or this for labor. Don’t forget the women. Or the middle name that adds an ethnic group to my support stew.

By this juncture, it’s all grown old — and very obvious. It makes aridity look good.

So while political grist waits for Becky, let’s turn to University of Hawaii. Ah, my beloved university. It can always be depended on to . . . well, step in it.

This time it’s the reported dismissal of Manoa Chancellor Tom Apple — from Wonder Blunder to Goodbye Marcie to Farewell Tom in two short years. Wow.

I don’t know Apple well. I exchanged verbal patter with him at a dinner one evening, and I heard him talk about the Manoa campus at an Aiea service club. He seemed like a good guy and knowledgeable about the campus he led.

Perhaps not the latter. University of Hawaii President David Lassner wouldn’t be booting Apple without reason. My guess is that, when all comes out, it’s about money, as it usually is in the world of higher education. Raise it, save it or perish. Spending money is easy in the modern research university; raising and saving it, not so.

Meanwhile, I await Becky’s research.