It is time the media stopped laughing at Bush malaprops and began to take their job seriously. And it is time they stopped pretending the Democratic primary race is an even-handed politics-as-usual exercise – – fodder for their 24/7 “news” coverage.

There’s nothing funny about a president and his band of miscreants who have wreaked havoc in the country and around the world. If only Mr. Bush were simply a buffoon one could laugh at and with him, but his failures are so egregious in the face of national disasters, whether terrorist-initiated or weather related, that being reminded of them should be greeted by the sounds of silence rather than laughter.

Yet those media types, at press conferences and the notorious Gridiron dinners, laugh and applaud lame presidential standups that poke fun at “the fuss” made over “Harriet”, “Brownie” and “Scooter” – – one who continues to defy a congressional subpoena, one woefully ill-equipped to handle the terrible effects of Katrina, one convicted of perjury and obstruction of justice in the outing of a CIA agent. As for the president’s tuneful refrain at the dinner that it will be good to touch the “brown, brown grass of home” he has touched that grass on more vacations than any former president. Least funny of all was his search under tables and the podium for non-existent WMD at an earlier Gridiron dinner. Taking the country to an unnecessary, trumped-up war is no laughing matter.

When it comes to the current primary struggle, comments to the effect that “it’s getting nasty out there” don’t begin to tell the story of what’s really going on ‘out there.’ If ever there were cause for shame it’s the way Senator Clinton has allowed her campaign rhetoric to deteriorate. Her surrogates spinning the nonsense about who should be the vice presidential choice, her waffling when she should have been absolute about the fact that Barack Obama is not a Muslim and, worst of all, her failure to “reject and denounce” Geraldine Ferraro’s remarks about Obama’s candidacy are neither accidental nor innocent. Only the most gullible could embrace the faint disavowals of these campaign-trail assaults on reason and decent political debate or dismiss the arrogance.

Since when did being black become such an asset in a presidential run as Ferraro suggested? And who believes her later exculpatory rubbish about how she has always supported civil rights causes and was just stating facts – – the kind of “some-of-my-best-friends-are-Jews” disclaimers mild-mannered bigots sometimes employ to mask questionable views and behavior. Perhaps the race thing was just waiting for some seemingly innocent observation from some seemingly credentialed source to come right out and give it proper weight instead of the kind of nudging the campaign has employed.

But if it’s facts Clinton supporter Geraldine wants to explore let’s face it; if Hillary hadn’t been married to Bill it isn’t likely she would be running for president now, and she probably wouldn’t be in the Senate either. For all her negatives she has reaped the benefits of name recognition and the ability to say her ‘tenure’ as First Lady afforded her experience she now claims to set her apart from Obama and align her with Senator McCain – – duly noted. On the other hand Obama’s rise in political circles is much more the result of his due diligence than Clinton’s which is not to say she isn’t a wonderfully intelligent, capable person. But let’s be clear she had important plus factors at the outset of the primary race for which Obama’s ‘blackness’ could hardly be said to compensate.

Despite their absurdity Ferraro’s remarks illustrate a distressing undertone in the Clinton campaign and her seeming willingness to win at any cost even at the risk of appealing to the baser instincts of voters who haven’t progressed very far on the human-rights spectrum. And the bottom-feeding approach doesn’t augur well for a future of good will and cooperation if there is to be a Clinton presidency.

Many years ago, “experience” was defined, in a NY Times article, “as an awareness of the encompassing totality of things”. Experience that doesn’t include an understanding of cause and effect is a worthless commodity.  Insofar as the media continues its simplistic, Cliff-Notes approach to news the public is not well served; insofar as political debate is beset by racial innuendo and tension the country’s best chance to excel is denied, and experience becomes just a meaningless word.