It's time for New Year's resolutions, and there's no reason that politicians, especially those vying for the nation's top office, should be exempted from this annual exercise any more than they should be from the new federal spam law.
Given politicians' congenital predilection for secrecy and dissembling—as evidenced by everything from the still-toxic backwash of the Clinton years to possibly criminal leaks in the Bush administration to revelations of Strom Thurmond's interracial love child—the emphasis this year should be on admitting personal shortcomings and, for once, being honest with the American people.
Such sincerity probably won't help any of the candidates earn more votes, but who knows? As a result, maybe the eventual victor in Campaign 2004 may even manage to garner 50 percent of the popular vote, a once-routine occurrence that hasn't happened since 1988.
Herewith, suggested resolutions for the candidates:
Carol Mosely-Braun: "I will learn the sort of basic bookkeeping skills that will allow me to better track of hundreds of thousands of campaign dollars, receipts for trips to tyrannical foreign countries, and Medicaid reimbursements."
Al Sharpton: "I will admit that I was wrong in the Tawana Brawley case."
Dick Gephardt: "I'll admit that I'll never be president—and will stop trying."
Joe Lieberman: "I'll lead off every softball appearance I make on the Fox News Channel by reminding the host that I gave Rupert Murdoch a "Silver Sewer Award" for being the nation's top "cultural polluter."
John Kerry: "I will cut back on the gratuitous, increasingly desperate shows of manliness such as cursing and riding motorcycles on The Tonight Show and, when it comes, I will accept my utter failure with the fucking patrician grace that supposedly entitled me to the White House in the first place.
Howard Dean: "Although I don't 'want anything embarrassing appearing in the papers at a critical time,' I'll unseal my locked-up gubernatorial papers so that when I accuse George W. Bush of 'fostering…a broader atmosphere of secrecy,' I won't look like the standard-issue politician that I am."
George W. Bush: "After I continue to fail to enforce intra-administration honesty with regards to the Plame leak, I'll make up for it by delivering on campaign promises about a 'humble' foreign policy, Social Security privatization, freer trade, and generally smaller government."