As a valiant commentator and member of the media, I have no more fervent wish than to talk of Substance. I feed on Substance. I love The Issues. A campaign of Substance, based on The Issues: that is the one dream of my heart.
I hate eschewing The Issues, although when I heard the word “eschew,” I did get temporarily excited because it sounds like “issue,” and, as stated, I love Issues so much. I feel about them the way Sarah Palin did about magazines (speaking of Issues!): I love them, all the ones that are in front of me. Issues are what the American people care about, after all.
I just wish that the campaigns were more focused on Issues of Substance. I would love nothing better than to see a Policy proposal about an Issue.
(Why is Elizabeth Warren waving at me? I am not finished yet.)
Really any Issue, as long as it was of Substance. Child care? Wealth inequality? Housing? Sure, those sound like Issues of Substance. I am not afraid to discuss Substance, and I’m definitely capable of discussing it; just because I am mostly forced — by circumstances beyond my control — to discuss the election as though it were a game, film or sport does not mean that my passion isn’t Policy. I love Policy. I have a Policy in Canada I’ve been in close correspondence with for many years, which is why you don’t see me talking about other policies more. I’m not avoiding Substance. It is just that, alas, no one is running a substantive campaign about The Issues. And no one regrets that more than I do.
There seems to be a disturbance behind me? It looks like maybe Elizabeth Warren is releasing a plan of some kind? For an ultra-millionaire tax? Please, do not let her distract you from my calls for Substance. Do not let the noise (“I have written eight policy plans that I would like to discuss!” “Here is my proposal for universal child care!”) distract you from the signal: my call for more substantive discussion.
*hastily mutes a ninth voicemail from the Warren campaign describing its plan for breaking up Big Tech*
I am devastated to note it, but it is true, and that is why I am pointing it out. It is very brave of me, I know. Every day I am forced to talk about politics as though it were baseball, instead of delving into the details of … house-having policy?
Elizabeth Warren has a housing policy? Then, I meant, uh, the electoral co … Oh, come on! How many Policies does this campaign have? This seems like overdoing it, frankly. Talk about loading the bases.
What is that behind me? Is it Elizabeth Warren clambering into a jet plane to letter the details of another Policy, this one a plan for universal child care, plumb across the sky? Oh, God, I’m afraid to turn around. I mean, not afraid of Policy, just very — I — I’m just shaking because I’m so eager to discuss Substance.
She even has a proposal about … agribusiness? (Am I pronouncing that correctly?) Well, great. Oh. Just. I’m crying because. Because I love Substance so much.
Alas, I would be discussing Substance right now if only it were available. I mean, yes, there are seven detailed proposals posted by Elizabeth Warren where I can readily and easily access them, but my computer broke and — no, no, please don’t print them out — it’s just I have a headache,
Look, are we actually sure these are Policy? I have to say, I love Policy and Substance — I frequently tell anyone who will listen what a wonk I am, even if they did not approach me! — and yet I have no desire to talk about that whatsoever! Could it be that that isn’t a Policy?
That must be it. So don’t let yourself get distracted — by Beto O’Rourke jumping on counters, by Mayor Pete Buttigieg and “Ulysses,” by Elizabeth Warren’s “Leveling the Playing Field for America’s Family Farmers.” I think I speak for all of us when I say that if there were any actual Substance in this race, we’d all be talking about it.
Follow Alexandra Petri on Twitter @petridishes.