RotN on the Campaign Trail
Peter Benjamin Johnson
Democratic Correspondent


Where have you been? We need another piece. You haven't written anything, but I can't help but notice that you keep charging expenses to PIC. I thought it was understood that we can only offer you the bare minimum in terms of funding, and that funding has to be per diem. Simply put, we can't give you more money just because you feel like trashing a hotel room. I've directed all inquiries about damages and billing to your cell. I can't deal with them anymore.

Get me an article and maybe I'll reconsider.

-Jake Christie

Dearest editors, debt collectors, readers, interested parties, etc.,

Fuck you.

I'm sitting in a hotel room in North Carolina. I've been on the road, or in the sky, or packed into town halls, or shivering in an empty bathtub, every hour of every day since Super Tuesday. Just now I was trying to sleep, but the couple in the room next to me is copulating and my duty to you calls.

You seem to be under the misguided impression that what I do is easy. Being a political correspondent is more like being a war reporter than it is like writing for the New York Times Book Review (though I have met some people from that camp who have not come out the other side, who have the thousand-yard stare, unable to reconcile what they know is good and decent in the world with what happened between themselves and Cormac McCarthy or Dave Eggers at a book signing or literary retreat). Political correspondents don't get to set their own schedules; no, we travel with the troop movements, flying from this airport to that, climbing on and off of transports, shuffling along in the mess of human matter that is political participation. For a country that can't, for the most part, find the energy to vote in actual real life elections, America certainly does like to make a big show of it.

I would be remiss, however, if I didn't admit to some of my own failings. I made promises that I would provide coverage and analysis and some would say that I have broken those promises to you, my readers and paymasters. I admit to none of this. I am a very remiss individual. Some people can't even believe how remiss I am, and take time out of their days to comment on it. “How remiss he is,” they say. I'm so remiss that sometimes I can't even believe it. But I'm also an Important Journalist, and if the media has taught me anything, it's that we admit to nothing. I don't make mistakes, I make headlines.

But here it is: McCain's got the Republican nomination tied up in a pretty but unerringly masculine bow, and Obama and Clinton are duking it out for the Democratic nod. Neither of them is going to win it by a landslide; that's an impossibility in terms of mathematics and public opinion. Superdelegates are going to make the difference, but it will be some time before they have to pledge their votes. Obama and Clinton are going through the motions, now, treading water and trying to keep what momentum they have to prove that they deserve the party's support.

Pennsylvania is the next big primary, and Clinton's trying desperately to hold on to her lead. It's expected that she'll win, but by how much? Obama's proven adept at stealing voters right out from under her, and a strong showing in Pennsylvania could help him almost as much as an outright win. This is the only explanation I can find for why he went bowling in Latrobe last week. Watching him throw a bowling ball was like watching Britney Spears spend time with her kid, or Hillary Clinton dodge sniper fire in Bosnia; it just wasn't happening. Granted, he'll probably have someone in his cabinet who can knock down a seven-ten for him, but embarrassing himself just to parley some votes doesn't shout CHANGE from politics as usual.

I'm traveling with Obama for two reasons: America loves the underdog, and his supporters are more attractive. I'm keeping my eyes on Hillary and McCain, though, and only the strongest, cheapest booze will keep me from covering this campaign exhaustively. Things won't really heat up until the conventions and the general election, but I promise I'll be your Man inside all the way through — no matter how many airplane bathroom shits it takes.


Peter Benjamin Johnson is a student at the William Randolph Hearst Internet School of Journalism. He is “covering” the democratic candidates in the 2008 presidential election for Revenge of the News. At least, that's what he calls it.