I just finished watching the Republican debate. And…Wow!
No, not “wow” about the debate. That was pretty much formula. Political debates have become as formulaic as TV sitcoms. And this debate could be, perhaps, the archetype of political debates. We had a stage full of people who want to be President of the U.S. and they were parroting bullshit lines fed to them by political consultants, designed to invoke an emotion.
Let me explain. As a teen, I was given some bullshit advice about how to win a woman’s heart. “In an early encounter, you must evoke a strong emotion from her. It doesn’t matter if it is pity, or lust, or anger, or fright, or extreme nausea. Just make it extreme. Because later on she’ll only remember that you stirred her passions.” (No…I’m not endorsing the idea….)
Contemporary political consultants must have all heard that same story. That’s what the candidates were doing all evening. Trying to evoke a little anger, patriotism, angst, fear, disgust, etc.—hoping to connect with voters so that the only thing they remember the next morning is how much candidate X stirred their passions.
The problem is, they all did it and it was formulaic. It was generic political sitcom. Tim Pawlenty was transparently engaging in it—he came off as a total buffoon. Michelle Bachmann was just off…she seemed detached and robotic. At one point, coming back from a break, she wasn’t at the podium! She came scurrying back whilst on camera. WHAT. THE. FUCK. (My guess is she was in the middle of a debilitating migraine and puking her guts out in the restroom. But who knows.)
There were two exceptions to the robot-a-thon. Newt Gingrich did less of it than the rest. He seemed much more earnest and analytical in his answers (even if the underlying ideas are lousy).
And Ron Paul was certainly passionate and genuine and honest. After all, madness has it privileges!
None of that was the “wow” part.
The “wow” part was the “Spin Room” post-debate circle-jerk on the FAUX News livestream. (Were they on TV too? Beats me. I don’t have a functioning TV in my house.) The “wow” part is that they said many of the same things about candidates I just articulated. No…worse, they outright savaged each and every one of the candidates. They savaged the debate format. They savaged the questions. They made the excellent point that none of the candidates on the stage inspired people to the point of personal sacrifice and devotion. Its because none of them showed real leadership—just formulaic sitcom bullshit answer after answer.
And so I am in the hugely embarrassing position of agreeing with a panel of fucking FAUX News infotainers, none of whose names I know or even remember. (In fairness…they probably don’t know who I am, either.)
Here’s the thing. Newt would lose because he is a deeply flawed person. Ron Paul would lose because he is a nut-case. And all of the rest of them would lose because they are a “relationship of convenience” to Republican voters. Just like Bob Dole, who was “their guy”. He was ok-ish. “he’ll do.” Blah.
And that’s just not good enough.
What we have on the Republican side is a group of people who desperately want to be President, but haven’t given Republicans a good reason why. George W. Bush got away with the sitcom-like formula, but times were good.
Not so much right now.