The Big Convention Wrap-up
While I’m all too painfully aware that this is one of the most important elections of my lifetime, the mechanics of the process bore me. I long for the days of floor fights, roll call votes, and melodramatic bloviating from the leaders of the state delegations as they grandly cast three delegates’ votes for so-and-so, and the remainder for the other guy. One of my fond childhood memories is NBC’s John Chancellor—as a young reporter—being hauled off the floor and squalling that he didn’t understand what was happening. I don’t remember which party’s convention it was, or why he was being removed, but it was heady stuff for an 11-year-old watching the democratic process play out on TV in low-definition black-and-white. (I’m guessing it was 1964. All I remember of the 1960 election was being given a Nixon bumper sticker to play with, and later receiving a Post-Office-issue photo of President Kennedy from my dad. The disturbing memories of late November 1963 are quite vivid, but we won’t go there. Suffice it to say I was in Mrs. Todd’s geography class at Georgia Military Academy when JFK was shot, and my parents and I had just arrived home from church and turned on the tube when Jack Ruby took Lee Oswald off the table.)
The only real political drama was when L.A. Mayor Villaraigosa was tasked with the unenviable job of trying to walk his party back from being perceived as godless idiots. The Democrats have obviously given up on the swing/independent voters, and are trying desperately to cling to their base of radical, Red Diaper babies, but when they blatantly omitted any mention of God and Jerusalem from the established party platform, some cigar-chomping cynic in the smoky back room suddenly realized that they’d gone too far. “Better put that stuff back in,” he must’ve growled. “We’re alienating both the Jewish and the Christian voters, and the margin on the gays and wetbacks ain’t gonna make up for it.” Poor Mayor Villaraigosa, after making his comments that the Republicans “[couldn’t] just trot out people with brown skins and Hispanic names” made the perfect fall guy for this little piece of chicanery. Since roll-call votes at a convention take forever, and are anathema to the abbreviated attention spans of the wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am audience tuned in to worship their little tin gods, Villaraigosa did a voice vote…three times. His deer-in-the-headlights look of panic as the amendment was shouted down was priceless. A reverse-angle photograph of the flat-screen teleprompter revealed that the words were already written for this done deal, so despite the evidence of millions of listening ears, he declared that a two-thirds majority had voted “yea” and the measure was passed.
It didn’t have nearly the drama of John Chancellor getting the bum’s rush in ’64, but it was as revelatory as Barry O.’s remark that “You didn’t build that!” Whatever the Republicans are lacking in a charismatic candidate this time around, the Democrats are surpassing with sheer incompetence and audacity.
So-called “secular progressives” who claim to be “voices of reason”—godless morons like Bill Maher, for instance—assure me that my faith, and religion in general, is a vestige of the days when us hairless apes danced naked around campfires and sacrificed babies to the gods of the eclipse when a rare cosmic phenomenon darkened the skies. I’m not the sharpest pencil in the jar, but it’s been my empirical experience that when you “BOO!” God or jump in His face with some arrogant challenge, things don’t turn out too well. A “reasonable atheist” might say I’m ascribing the failures and disappointments of my own life to some “imaginary friend” instead of “taking personal responsibility” for said failures, but to my superstitious way of thinking, nothing good is going to come from rejecting the notion of a Higher Power and openly challenging The Deity by booing, catcalling, and setting your tiny carbon-based life-form above a spiritual power that is, by its nature, unknowable except by faith. Let me know on 7 November how this worked out for you, Democrats.
Thanks to the marvelous technology of my new DVR toy, I was able to catch all the high and low points of the last two weeks. Clint, Barry O., Sloppy Joe, Michelle ‘Hobama, Liz Warren the pretend-Injun, “Dr. Goebbels” Ryan, “Shiny Thing” Wasserman-Schultz, Willie the Zipper, and the rest paraded across my screen. I actually paid more attention to the Democrats than I did the Republicans; partly because I’m an aficionado of sleaze, but mostly because I wanted to see what kind of lame excuses were going to replace the record that Obama can’t run on.
Since today’s conventions have pre-determined outcomes and are as carefully scripted as the MTV awards, “American Idol”, or a Kardashian wedding, I didn’t lend too much credence to any of the goings-on. The grand spectacles were a cross between a high-school pep rally and any given episode of the “Lizard Lick” tow-‘em-away “reality” show. (“Bobby! Bobby! We coulda gotten killed back there!”)
As I told someone today, if I’m going to write political commentary—no matter how mundane—then it’s sort of my duty to watch and listen to whatever tomfoolery is offered up by these aspirants to the most powerful office in the world. I only wish I got paid a fraction of what the talking heads receive, so I wouldn’t feel like a Medieval flagellant in a hair shirt, beating myself with a cat-‘o-nine, when I sit through a litany of lies, empty promises, demagoguery, and overall bullshit.
The one thing that made the conventions bearable and somewhat amusing was serendipity: I finally got my hot little hands on Ann Coulter’s latest book, Demonic. Citing what is generally recognized as the definitive profile of mob psychology and collective thinking—an 1896 work by French analyst Gustav Le Bon—she makes a strong assertion that the Democrat party is nothing more than a motley collection of unthinking drones, guided by emotion instead of reason, and immune to any logic or analysis of any given issue. Like any good amusement-park thrill-ride, reading her book and watching it come to life in the background on my TV screen was both hilarious and terrifying. Reading about how frenzied crowds can reconcile contradictions through the formation of images and simplistic slogans, and then looking up to see Democrats waving yard signs with bumper stickers plastered to them, provided me with endless belly laughs. Reading direct quotes from Le Bon about repetition being a key element in provoking mindless response, and then hearing everyone from Willie the Zipper to Lapdog Joe babbling about how Obama “saved the auto industry” was more fun than a hog killin’.
Seriously, reading Coulter’s book and watching the conventions simultaneously may have to go on my list of life’s defining moments. Not since reading Atlas Shrugged, taking some LSD, and promptly re-reading that book again, have I felt such a subtle shift in the geography of my thinking. When the space shuttle Columbia burned up on re-entry, I remarked that I will never be able to view a jet contrail high in the sky the same way again. So it is with Demonic and observing political events. My next step will be to obtain Le Bon’s original work and plow through its decidedly dry Victorian language. Like the Buffalo Springfield song: “There’s something happening here; what it is ain’t exactly clear.”
Somehow, what I saw happening at both conventions, but especially the Democrat weenie roast, was very clear. What I can’t understand is how anyone can fall for what they’re being handed.
When I was wrapping up my conversation today with the person to whom I remarked that it’s my “duty” to suffer through political conventions if I want to comment on them, he remarked: “I don’t like that Romney chap, either. Maybe it’s better to stay home this time and not vote for anyone.”
To which I replied: “There’s too much at stake. I’d rather vote for a bloodless capitalist predator than a dog-eating Kenyan Muslim Socialist any time.”
I’ll be saying this again and again before 6 November, but the presidential referendum isn’t the only game in town. The laws are made and re-made in Congress; the House and Senate. While all the focus this time is on the CEO, we need to pay attention to those who are going to sit on the board of directors.