The Strangest Campaign in Memory
Did you happen to check out last night's conclusion of the 2012 Clown Car Race-to-the-Bottom? If this is the best the GOP can do for der Mittster's Coming Out party they're in worse shape than I thought. It was a dud and-a-half from beginning to end. And did you catch Clint Eastwood's pathetic Bob Newhart impersonation? Painful and embarrassing! What the hell were they thinking when they allowed him to go out there unscripted? The very sight of him debating that empty chair gave me the same kind of almost sympathetic feeling I got watching Michael Moore interviewing a feeble-minded Charlton Heston in the film Bowling for Columbine. As George Carlin might have said, it's time to "check his calender". Too sad for words.
That this bit of "theater" backfired on the Romney Show is already accepted wisdom. This morning almost everyone is talking about Clint's little routine. Mitt's acceptance speech has been relegated to the back burner of our national conversation. The headline above Jonathon Chait's article on New York Magazine's website this morning pretty much summed up the feeling:
"Mitt Romney: More Effective Than Clint Eastwood"
Well now! Who could disagree with that assessment? Honestly, this is turning out to be the strangest presidential contest in two centuries; since the Adams/Jefferson debacle of 1804 - and it's not even close to being over! As Al Jolson liked to say back in the day, "Folks, you ain't seen nothin' yet!" Indeed. All of this unintentional comedy is getting to be a bit much to digest. These sure are interesting times, are they not? I can't get enough of this stuff. Seriously.
I only got to focus clearly on the evening's festivities after the fact, in the wee small hours of the morning when the event was replayed on the cable news channels. During the live telecast I got too intoxicated to even describe, and by the time Mitt stepped up to the podium, I was very wasted and my memory of the night is a fog. I have found that it is easier to deal with the grim realities of America's political nightmare by having vast quantities of vodka at hand. Such was the case when Governor Romney accepted his party's nomination on Thursday night. Please don't try this at home, boys and girls.
Romney's speech was quite interesting - not so much for the content - but for the audience's reaction to it. On every weird talking point the people reacted as expected, with wild and unrestrained applause. The only exception was when he suggested that the government had a responsibility to take care of the less fortunate. The only thing I could hear at that point were the crickets chirping. There must have been some kind of record set last night. Does anyone know of any other incident in history where so many sociopaths gathered in one place? Nuremberg 1936 perhaps? Someone get back to me on that one, okay?
The one part of the night that I must admit moved me was when Mitt described the love his parents, George and Lenore, had for one another. If we can believe Mitt (and you'll forgive me if I'm inclined to doubt everything that comes out of his mouth) theirs was a storybook romance. Every morning as George was leaving for work, he would leave a single, red rose beside Lenore's nightstand. One morning when she awakened to find no rose, she instinctively knew that her husband must have died. He had. It is a touching story but so what? We're electing a president here - not the CEO of Harlequin Romance Novels Inc. I shudder to think how many people last night decided on Romney just on the sentimental appeal of that story. Let's get a hold of ourselves.
"The question now is whether voters will understand what’s really going on (which depends to a large extent on whether the news media do their jobs). Mr. Ryan and his party are betting that they can bluster their way through this, pretending that they are the real defenders of Medicare even as they work to kill it. Will they get away with it?"
-Paul Krugman, from this morning's New York Times
I've said this before and I'll go on saying it to my grave: we ignore Krugman to our own detriment.
When Paul Ryan dragged his clueless mom to a campaign stop in Florida a couple of weeks ago, she assured the crowd that her baby would never do something so naughty as giving Medicare the ol' heave-ho. Perish the thought! This is the party that really cares about Medicare, they want us to believe, unlike those evil-doing libs who would love nothing better than throwing poor granny into the socialist meat-grinder. Beautiful! To refresh your memory, this is the party that tried everything possible to defeat Medicare when Lyndon Johnson signed it into existence almost fifty years ago. This is the same party that has been working overtime to kill it ever since. They now want us to swallow the fallacy that they are the saviors of Medicare. Isn't that a scream? They obviously don't have a very high opinion of the intelligence of the American people - with damned good reason I might add.
By the way, watching Paul Ryan bring his mother out on the stage to do his lying for him had to be one of the most desperate acts that has been committed by an American politician since Dick Nixon's "Checkers Speech" on September 23, 1952 - that's damned near sixty years ago! Can you see why I love this job?
As I write these words, Republican governors in key swing states are in the process of denying the vote to the traditional Democratic constituency by means of the so-called "Voter ID" laws. Here's something you can take to the bank, kids: if the polls don't correspond to the results - in other words if Obama loses to Romney despite exit polls that have him clearly ahead - the proverbial shit is going to hit the very real fan. I've got an ominous feeling that most Americans won't look too kindly on a coup d'etat. Expect a mass, nationwide freak out if that happens. We can put this place out of business if we want to. Occupy Wall Street is merely a dry run.
"I wish President Obama had succeeded because I want America to succeed."
-Mitt Romney, Acceptance speech
-Jon Stewart, The Daily Show
So many of the pundits have been calling this campaign a huge disappointment, and as far as substance is concerned I'm inclined to agree. Campaign 2012 is symptomatic of the disintegration of America's political dialogue in the last thirty years. No doubt about it, it's been quite disappointing. Train wrecks are disappointing, too. No one likes to see them - BUT DAMN! - you just can't take your eyes off of them either. Mining comedy out of this fiasco is as easy as gathering snowflakes in a blizzard. It's the gift that keeps giving.
This isn't the first time I've shared this song, and I assure you it won't be the last. Thank you, Leonard Cohen for nailing it:
amen, brother cohen.