With only a couple of weeks to go until election day, the fusillade of nasty political flak fills the sky. Citizens straining to find a little blue need to take a long trip. Or look for antidotes.
Andy Mayer, 11, provides a bit of the latter.
Andy is a 5th grader who lives in “a beige house with green shutters” in Edison Park, in northwest Chicago, along with his mom, dad and 14-year-old brother. (That’s the way he described it.)
He also writes for his own little website, “The Normal Kids Nest,” and when he blogs on the presidential debates it’s a scream. He doesn’t have a big following (other than some people at his public school) or particular fame (until now.) But he’s got loads of flair, wit and originality.
And he’ll be back at it Monday night, when he will again plop on a couch in the family room, while brother Jack sits in dad’s brown chair, and begin banging out one liners about the president, the challenger and anything else that comes to mind.
When President Obama and Mitt Romney went at it in New York this week, Andy started out with this:
“This debate is a town hall debate, which Jack says means real people get to ask questions. I wish Chuck Norris would show up to ask a question. I always want Chuck Norris to show up at these things to make them more interesting, but he never does.”
“The debate has 35 people in Ohio commenting and judging things. They will be the undecided voters at the bottom of the screen. I wonder if my Aunt Beth or Uncle Kevin are there? They live in Ohio.”
And this: “My mom thinks Anderson Cooper is cute. Yuck.”
There have been a couple of zillion blogs posts since Campaign 2012 began, few as pithy as those. Politics Now only discovered Andy because a friend of the family told Matea Gold, who works in The Times/Tribune Washington bureau.
Like a lot of voters or would-be voters, Andy likes to relate what he hears from the candidates to his own life.
“Obama says how he will create jobs. But only some people have jobs right now,” he said early in Debate No. 2. “I think Jack should get a job. He mows the lawn, but not that often.”
The stagecraft of the Town Hall-style debate wasn’t exactly knocking Andy over. “They are sitting on stools. I don't think stools are very presidential. They should be sitting in big velvet chairs with their names on plaques.” Andy pledges allegiance to his hometown’s own Barack Obama. “Romney has a bigger flag pin,” he wrote during the debate. “I think the bigger pin looks threatening.”
Andy said via email that he has been writing his blog for nearly a year and a half, which his teacher, Lee Marcheschi, and mom, Kelly, confirmed. It fulfills school requirements, both to follow the political process and to write at least 10 minutes a night. That’s what Andy told me in his email.
“I kind of like politics, but I like other things more, like writing screenplays and learning about animation,” Andy said. He also likes to play Minecraft with his brother. “On the weekends I like to sleep in the basement.”
His mother, who volunteers at a home for people with disabilities, assured me the basement thing wasn’t weird. “He's really found his voice with the blog,” said Kelly Burgess Mayer, “and it's been a good way for him to state his opinions.” (Dad Matt is a sound engineer for film and video, including a lot of Chicago sports teams.)
“I am writing an animated TV series called ‘Toonland Madness,’ " Andy told me. Even as I type those words, I can almost feel the Hollywood talent scouts thumbing their iPhones for Chicago information.
Not too long into last Tuesday's debate, Andy also got a kick out of one of the regular folks who got up to query the candidates. “This guy asking the question looks like Mark Hamill,” he wrote, referring to the “Star Wars” actor. “Maybe Mark Hamill should run for president. He would make lightsabers the law!”
About half an hour into Debate 2, Andy suddenly called it a night. “It's 8:30. I'm going to eat an ice cream sandwich now.” I asked him about that later.
“I blogged for half an hour because it was interesting,” he wrote back, “and then it seemed like it was all the same ‘blah blah blah,’ so I stopped and ate my dessert.”
Clearly, the kid’s a natural.