William Shira | Horrifyingly Hilarious
Published: Wednesday, September 19, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, September 19, 2012 01:09
It’s convention season of the 2012 election. Strap in. A boxing match that’s been going on for months is about to begin again. Ding, ding!
“In the right corner, having raised just over $500 million officially with untold amounts of money in offshore accounts, is Governor Willllarrrrdd Mitt Romney!” Magic Mitt brought his telepageant to Tampa, Fla. in order to convince all the mildly racist retirees in the United States, who thought this young governor quite dapper but didn’t quite trust that he was on their side. The minority wonder team of Republican speakers was far more diverse than the crowd. Republican Party strategists wanted to make one thing abundantly clear to the viewers at home: “We have successful, articulate minority party members, too! See!”
The big hitter was the original outlaw, Clint Eastwood. He came out guns blazing and gave an improvised bit -— talking to a chair — that Jack Benny would have been proud of. It was hands down hilarious. And at the end of a very dull week it revved the crowd back up to the same inspired and excited state that they started this convention with.
There were a few problems with the speech for the Romney campaign, however, as Eastwood made it very clear that he did not want a lawyer to be president. As a Harvard educated lawyer, this may not bode well for Governor Romney, but as the crowd roared with laughter and applause nobody seemed to notice.
The play went off without a hitch and laid the entrance for the slick challenger. This convention didn’t weigh its viewers down with heavy facts — especially Romney’s speech.
He spoke like a car repair guy you would meet on the side of the road because your engine was starting to go — “Don’t worry. This wasn’t your fault. Just leave it here and I’ll fix the problem for you” — without really letting you know what the problem was or how he’s going to fix it. It feels a lot like we’re about to be ripped off.
The telepageant for the Democrats didn’t go quite as smoothly. Bill Clinton spoke as long as a jazz saxophone solo, spewing too many facts in too little time too late at night. Vice President Biden obsessed over the President like a school student with a crush.
President Obama’s speech was by no means terrible; it was just honest. He went from “Hope” 2008 to “No one said this would be easy” 2012. Not as inspiring. But the truly tragic thing about the Convention was when the electoral process got curbstomped.
Bowing to pressure from mainly Fox News, the Democrats took a vote to reinsert “Jerusalem should be the capital of Israel” and “the United States is a nation under God” into their platform. The chairman called for a two thirds vote to reinstate. “All those in favor say aye.” “Aye!” “All those opposed say nay!” “Nay!” Not the easy fix the party had in mind.
Fifty-fifty splits are hard to call, especially audibly. But the result of the vote was already scripted to pass according to the teleprompter. So the speaker paid no mind to the real vote and passed the resolution — electoral process be damned.
Does this media charade give us voice in our own parties? Conventions used to be dirty and corrupt ordeals hidden away in backrooms. Political bosses chomped cigars and traded delegates like poker chips to decide positions. Apparently, the same thing is happening now, but with a really expensive distraction blocking view of the door.
William Shira is a senior majoring in peace and justice studies. He can be reached at William.Shira@tufts.edu.