In 1952 and 1956, there was a dark horse running in the presidential campaigns. Well, make that a light-colored possum. It was Pogo. The star of a comic strip of the same name, creator Walt Kelly described him as, “the reasonable, patient, softhearted, naive, friendly person we all think we are.” He was one of the good guys. I mean possums. While also termed “opossums,” I will use “possums,” which is how these marsupials are termed in his native Ofekenofee Swamp in Georgia, near Fort Mudge. Yes, those are real places, but there the reality ends. In his comic strip, Kelly spun tales with more characters than a Russian novel, combining wit and wisdom, slapstick and shtick, puns and pithiness, and satire and sarcasm in a delightfully amusing mix. In all the mayhem and madness, Pogo stands above it all, or rather sits on his flat-bottomed boat and fishes. He is the epitome of what is right with America: honesty, integrity and lack of political ambition. He is the antithesis of what it takes to be president nowadays.
In case you didn’t get the idea, I am not happy about this year’s choices for president. In light of that, I am dusting off Pogo’s hat and throwing it in the ring. Here and now I am announcing that Pogo is once again running for president. Sure, like William Jennings Bryan and Adlai Stevenson, he is a proven loser, but Richard Milhous Nixon lost a run for the presidency in 1960 and a run for California governor in 1962, yet came back to win the presidency in 1968. Pogo can do it, too, and I guarantee there’s no Swamp-gate waiting to wash out him out of office. So let’s rally behind the true political outsider, the possum with nothing in his closet but striped shirts and who never offended anyone. He’s never mishandled confidential government emails, never had a company he owned go bankrupt, never lied or changed his position on anything. In fact, he’s never had a position on anything. Except for a little swamp mud, he’s the truly clean candidate. As of now, I GO POGO!
Now, to address those who claim that no candidate can be as clean as Pogo, especially one who lives in a swamp, let me squash that mud before it’s slung. Someone will surely bring up the rather embarrassing 1980 movie, I Go Pogo: Pogo for President. With Walt Kelly’s wry humor combined with Pogo’s consummate knack for pithy and profound observations, it should have been great, right? With a cast of zany character actors like Johnathan Winters, Vincent Price, Ruth Buzzi and Stan Freberg voicing the cast, it should have been a hoot, right? Wrong. (click here to view.) Walt Disney brought in Mark Paul Chinoy to write the script, attempting to adapt the late Walt Kelly’s comic strips (he died in 1973) and to direct it. Chinoy showed his lack of experience (and, I would say, talent) as well as missing the mark on capturing Kelly’s use of satire, malaprops and “swamp lingo.” The “claymation” stop-action movie would have been far better if Warner Brothers had done an animated feature, written and directed by Chuck Jones, the creator of Marvin the Martian, Pepe LePew, the Road Runner, Wile E. Coyote and Michigan J. Frog, my favorite. But Disney’s version was more of a Pinocchio than a One Froggy Evening (click here), a kiddie movie rather than a sophisticated satire. All in all, it was a pretty Mickey Mouse movie. It went straight to video and never even made the cut to DVD. For that, Pogo is thankful. At least it wasn’t some even more embarrassing Kardashian-like sex tape, even though Pogo didn’t wear any trousers for the entire movie.
Then there are some of Pogo’s friends. The last president from the Goober State was another Washington “outsider,” Jimmy Carter, who had questionable-banker Bert Lance and brother Billy of Billy Beer and Libyan loan fame. Yet Jimmy’s personal reputation was never muddied with their misdeeds. Georgia good ‘ol boys were just part of the culture. The same is true for Pogo. Let’s take Albert the Alligator. Sure he smokes cigars the way Billy drank beer, and that’s no longer accepted. Sure he gets involved with characters like Howland Owl and Churchill “Churchy” La Femme (sounds a lot like Cherchez la femme), who are also friends of Pogo, but their plans always come to naught and Pogo has never been linked to any illegal or unethical actions himself. Just like Jimmy Carter. And unlike some other past and possibly future presidents. Plus Albert has never done anything but smoke his cigar, unlike a certain former president who is a current candidate’s mate. So you can go Pogo without fear he will be accused of an impropriety.
No improprieties includes sexual ones. Although he has been linked to a certain Miz Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, the farthest they have gone together is across the swamp for a picnic. True, being linked to a sexy French skunk might be thought unwise by some, but let’s look at this more closely. Jacqueline Kennedy, nee Bouvier, was thought to be French because of her beauty, classy style and fluency in French, yet is one of the most beloved First Ladies this country ever had. True, she was actually only 1/8 French and 1/2 Irish, but no one thinks of her as Irish and in politics, perception is everything. While there are species-ists who will never accept Miz Ma’m’selle Hepzibah, she is half white and half black, which is rather the current thing in presidential politics. And if anyone insulted her to her face, she’d probably raise quite a stink. In fact, if Pogo married her, it would likely keep his critics at a distance. A far distance. Not only that, it would prove his complete lack of prejudice and be very PC.
So, are you ready for the next step in American politics? Are you willing to bring in the ultimate outsider? The best man (or woman) for the job of president is not a man or woman: it’s a possum. Reality is highly overrated, if the slate of current candidates is an example. Be unreal. Be a part of a real grass roots movement and help me bring true honesty, humility and ethics into the White House in 2016. I GO POGO! Will you?