If you've been paying attention to the presidential campaigns, you've no doubt heard much of the pundit analysis of the candidates. It goes something like this: Obama is "energizing" people and speaking about "change" and is bringing "excitement" to the campaign; Hillary is "mean" and having a hard time reaching "new voters" and isn't "inspiring"; McCain is about as "exciting" as tooth decay and doesn't "move" people. And on and on it goes. Of course, the missing ingredient in most analysis is obvious: what are the important issues and how are each of the candidates actually going to address them. Specifics in this race are about as hard to find as a NOVA Republican.

Truth be told, we shouldn't expect much else in our celebrity culture, where Americans seem far more interested in the latest "American Idol" than they are in Iraq. We could spend days talking about why, but syndicated columnist Robert Samuelson has an interesting take. He theorizes that we don't demand honest answers from our candidates, not because we're more interested in their latest David Letterman appearance, but because we simply can't handle the truth about the current state of affairs in America. The truth, as they say, hurts.

I think there is a lot of truth to his argument. Facing the realities of $4.00 a gallon gas, a nanny state that is on the verge of complete economic collapse (i.e., Has anyone seen my social security check?), and borders that are simply lines on paper isn't nearly as entertaining, or diversionary, as Jay Leno.

I guess the question is, how much longer can we bury ourselves in celebrity before we are forced to deal with a crumbling culture?

Bread and circuses anyone?