“. . . and we are political junkies.”–“Hi, Mark; hi Mom!”

You’ll never catch Mom or me at a Twelve Step meeting. I don’t want “serenity.” I want adrenaline. I want to roll up one sleeve, plug my high speed internet cable into a vein, let my eyes roll back, and quiver uncontrollably when I hear Wolf Blitzer announce, “CNN is projecting that John McCain will win the primary in New York.” I want to hear Chris Matthews announce that 2,025 is the magic delegate number to capture the Democratic nomination, and see psychedelic colors swirl in my head. I want to see a sunflower appear out of nowhere, telling me that “God is all, and all is God, and God is you, and Hillary Clinton is capturing a substantial percentage of the Latino vote.”

I’m not a true addict. Really. I’m not. I can stop anytime I want. In fact, I’ve stopped many times, often for several hours. Occasionally I get sidetracked by healthier distractions. During CNN’s live internet Super Tuesday coverage, for minutes at a stretch I couldn’t take my eyes off of anchor-hottie Melissa Long. Some of her crucial reporting about the breaking California results went right past me. But Wolf Blitzer’s wolverine face snapped me out of it, and I got back on task.

My “recovering” friends say this was a hopeful sign, that there is a normal inner child struggling to get out. How’d he get there in the first place, and what’s he doing in there–climbing on my lungs? No wonder I can’t breathe when I see the latest USA Today/Gallup Poll. I say let the little brat out and put him on a plane somewhere so I can concentrate on Melissa picking the brain of presidential historian Michael Bechloss.

My first political high came when JFK kicked Khrushchev’s arrogant butt, and missiles, out of Cuba. The rush of ecstasy and relief began my swift and irreversible decline. (Mom told me about it, so she was responsible for my first high). I was clean and sober for six years. Then I read an FDR biography and heard one nomination acceptance speech. Soon I was the only kid on my block who had ever heard of Jimmy Carter.

Things have gone downhill from there. I don’t sleep too well. I tried to go to bed early Wednesday morning after three media giants declared victories in “The Big Enchilada” for Obama and Clinton. But I woke up suddenly with a complete, articulate, brilliant drop-out speech for Mitt Romney, fully formed in my head. I mumbled it into my dictaphone. After two more fitful hours I got up and transcribed the results:

“My friends, when my father ran for president in 1968, some cruel pundit remarked that watching George Romney run for president was like watching a duck trying to make love to a football. I’m getting that same feeling now. So I am throwing all 666 of my delegates to the next President of the United States, Chelsea Milhous Clinton!!!”

Okay, it was kind of a screwy dream. But that duck and football thing really did happen. I think I saw it on my Christmas vacation in high school one year while reading one of Theodore White’s “Making of the President” books.

They say addiction runs in families, and Mom apparently inherited hers from me. Her fall from grace has caused me no small amount of guilt–wife of a prominent minister; respected newspaper columnist and author; Biblical scholar; and expert on Texas wildflowers. Before mainlining on politics, the worst thing she’d ever done in her life was sharpen her pencil at school without permission.

Her degeneration began with the Presidential Chopper. I started getting emails from Mom every time she heard Bush’s huge helicopter fly over Waco en route to his Crawford ranch. In exciting detail, she would describe the throaty roars of Marine One. When Putin came to town, she and I both nearly OD’d.

My mom isn’t as far gone as I am–yet. She’s still just a recreational user. But the warning signs are all there. The disinterest and restlessness when chick flicks appear on television. Using her computer to print out the full calendar of all the upcoming presidential primaries and caucuses. Rapid speech with the occasional lapse into psychotic style word salad. And the most ominous symptom of all–shortness of breath when reporting that she has heard an Obama speech and finds him “inspiring.”

Barack Obama is the crack cocaine of political addiction. Once you inhale, you’re hooked. I did and I am. How can you not be? An African-American Kansas Muslim Christian Indonesian Hawaiian from Chicago. The guy’s lived more places than Lee Harvey Oswald. And he’s running against the Chicago-born Yalie Little Rock Washingtonian New Yorker who until recently was politically left of that Manson groupie and would-be Gerald Ford assassin, Squeaky Fromme. Obama’s got my vote.

Our Twelve-Stepper friends are trying to get us into a program and, they hope, recovery. They gave us copies of the Serenity Prayer. Mom flipped hers over and used some blank space to write down the URL for MSNBC Live. I used mine to draw little maps of the states Mike Huckabee won on Super Tuesday.

I’m really afraid of “hitting bottom” on Election Night this year. My family may find me on the bathroom floor mumbling, “McCain . . . Rhode Island . . . 51.6%. . . .” But they won’t be able to do an intervention on me. I can’t afford to go to rehab. Happily, I’m one of the 40 million Americans without health insurance!

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