Time to sound the alarm on an ominous political epidemic sweeping the nation today.
A feverish America finds itself larynx-deep in the throes of a severe case of debate fatigue, as evidenced by the most recent gathering of GOP candidates in Nevada –– which by any unofficial tally should count as the 367th debate in the past four months, with about 519 to go before an actual nominee is grudgingly settled upon.
Nowhere are the symptoms of this malaise more apparent than amongst the participants themselves, who have slowly shifted from irritable to ornery to downright cantankerous.
And it's going to take more than a short regimen of low-grade antibiotics to kick this virulent bug.
You could say the last debate got a bit testy. You could also say that Girl Scouts make ineffective NFL middle linebackers. In nickel coverage. Against Aaron Rodgers.
Mirroring the emotions of their constituents, the candidates are starting to get on each other's nerves like somebody else's disco music in a bathroom with stainless steel walls.
After Rick Perry accused Mitt Romney of hiring illegal aliens to work on his lawn, the former governor of Massachusetts put a condescending hand on the Texas governor's shoulder and received a look that would liquefy granite.
Fortunately, Mitt is made of stiffer stuff. But only the presence of TV cameras kept the two from making a date to meet under the bleachers right after school.
Perry's frustration is evident. The shine on his campaign has faded to root-cellar dim, partly due to an inability to form a complete sentence in public.
Himself admitting, "Debates aren't my strong suit." No. Not your strong suit. Weak suit. Leisure suit. Bathing suit. Or birthday suit. Face it, debates aren't your Bermuda shorts. And neither is foreign policy Herman Cain's black socks with sandals.
Michele Bachmann was confused by Libya being part of Africa, and Newt Gingrich may have scuttled his entire campaign by vowing, as nominee, to engage President Obama in a series of seven three-hour-long debates.
Smooth move. Like telling a man with heartburn you plan on serving nothing but jalapeno burritos for dinner the next two weeks. And the sour cream has curdled. Plenty of Tabasco, though.
The seven nominees in attendance spent the evening snapping at one another like hyenas over the last piece of zebra calf muscle.
When the subject of immigration arose, they climbed across their podiums playing king of the hill on who would implement the strictest enforcement. Variously promising to utilize the National Guard, electric fences, predator drones; and I think somebody mentioned alligator pits.
Domestic alligators, of course.
The experts claim these things are designed to build better candidates. "His new-found confidence is a direct result of being hardened in the primary debates." But where does "battle tested" end and Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome begin?
Could John McCain's punch-drunk staggering be attributed to the head blows he sustained over six months of these internecine conflicts four years ago?
Luckily for everybody, the next debate is about three weeks hence. Plenty of time to grab some air and arrange a few photo-ops in stately poses, such as handing out Halloween candy and voting.
Not forgetting the most important presidential business of all, begging for more money. Power ties off. Knee pads on.
The New York Times says Emmy-nominated comedian and writer Will Durst "is quite possibly the best political satirist working in the country today." Durst is a political comedian, who has performed around the world and is a familiar pundit on television and radio. E-mail Will at email@example.com. His column is distributed by the Cagle Cartoons Inc. syndicate.