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On the Run 

Hoping for a change in government? Try moving somewhere else.

It's time for my periodic doom-and-gloom "this city's going down the crapper and there's really no way to fix it" column. I'm happy to be an uplifting part of your day.

I came to this conclusion, again, after watching the Oct. 11 so-called debate between the monotone robotic Mayor Luke "Opie" Ravenstahl and Republican Mark DeSantis -- some high-tech guy with a deep, sleep-inducing voice who used to work for Sen. John Heinz and President Bush One.

They're both running for mayor. As if you cared. And you don't. Because you know the outcome.

But just for the fun of it, let's dissect some of this mind-numbingly boring rhetoric, so we can grasp the full meaning of this so-called campaign's irrelevancy.

DeSantis is a good guy. He's a grownup, which gives him a leg up on Opie. But he's not particularly inspiring, and had one rather frightening borderline Nixonian moment in this debate at Duquesne University's A.J. Palumbo auditorium. OK, maybe it wasn't all that Nixonian, but I'm trying to make him interesting despite his irrelevancy.

When asked what his biggest mistake had been, the Republican candidate said "Probably the biggest mistake I made was when ... I went to Washington as a young person, and was motivated by the bright lights and the power, and the prospect of getting power and being near it."

It was an odd moment -- as if in his private life, he likes to pleasure himself while watching Dick Cheney on Meet the Press. Here is a guy who apparently has had issues with a lust for power. Or am I making too much out of this because I'm desperate for something interesting to happen in this so-called campaign? I mean, how many politicians are not motivated by power?

We don't really get to have "interesting" in this campaign. Just the borderline surreal. Opie's oddest moment was his response to the same question. In a previous debate, he had said his biggest mistake may have been flying to New York with a billionaire Penguins investor, Ron Burkle. Clearly one of his advisers got to him and said, "Opie, if you keep bringing that up, it'll be in the lead paragraph of every debate story. Come up with another mistake, for chrissakes!"

So Opie had another bite at the apple, as it were. As Hunter Thompson once opined, "When the going gets tough, the weird turn pro." And our beloved Mayor Opie definitely turned pro with his answer.

"I think my greatest mistake, and I do this often, is I go too fast," said the boy mayor. "I don't have the patience, and I want to get things done right away. And I think nothing illustrates that greater than the transition that I've had to go through in city government. If there was one thing that I could look back on and change, it would be to have an opportunity, as normal mayors do, to win an election, and go through a transition."

So let me get this straight: His greatest mistake was Bob O'Connor dying, resulting in Ravenstahl being prematurely catapulted into a job where he is clearly in over his head? I don't mean to be picky, but sometimes I like things to make sense. If this nonsensical answer is not a tactic, it should be. You're left scratching your head, but you're so confused in the moment, you're likely to forget it shortly thereafter. Opie continued to emphasize this point during the rest of his droning monotone robotic response (is that redundant?) to the question:

"So the dynamic of moving into the office unexpectedly, coupled with the constant political campaign, is something that made me move fast. And I think the greatest mistake that I had made was simply not having the opportunity to sit back, take a comprehensive look and make decisions looking at the big picture."

Not having an opportunity through no fault of your own is a regret. Or an unfortunate set of circumstances, or a bummer. Or something. But it's not a mistake.

Of course, I recognize that answers matching questions and making sense sets a rather high standard for the Pittsburgh mayor's race. Opie's in. No amount of bad policy or partying affects his popularity. Welcome to Pittsburgh, home of the mediocre politician. We're hopelessly doomed.

Go Stillers.

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