Conventional Wisdom: Surviving the Political Theatre of Conventions

Well, thank God football is back. Tony Romo took a dump on my beloved Giants but I’ve been so starved for entertainment I’ve been watching political conventions.  Last week, I listened to some trust fund lady talk about tuna fish sandwiches, basement apartments, and Harvard in one sentence as a plea to normality.  Tonight, once Romo decided to pistol whip the Giants’ defensive unit, I turned on the DNC where the owner of Costco gave a speech that was the aural equivalent of shopping there: bulky and unexciting.  Excuse me sir, can I get the four gallon tub of mayo and your political remedy for a faltering economy?  At least it didn’t resemble the Klan rally of the GOP; all those women and minorites who appeared in Tampa looked like they had fucking Stockholm syndrome. Well, maybe not Rubio; that guy could sell an inner tube to a Cuban refugee.  Old Clement here has a couple of opinions about convention life so I’m going to let them flow like a trickle down, supply side, Keynesian, socialist avalanche, bitches.

“We built it.” If you mean the public debt and dreary economy, then you sure did, you douches.   The GOP convention looked like a cross between hillbilly Halloween and a giant square dancing rally on mushrooms.  The Dems just looked like they got back from a clambake with some California indica, smiles and delirium all around.  The white haired guy at the end, though, could make hepatitis sexy he’s so goddamned charismatic.  Bill Clinton had the audacity to denounce Republican policies of deregulation and inequality that he himself signed off on in the glorious 1990s (DOMA, Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, deregulating Wall Street, letting Clear Channel buy every radio station from Bangor to Bakersfield to make us listen “Sk8er Boi” all day, every day), but delirious Democrats didn’t care. I bet he gives reach arounds  (or at least cowboy hand jobs; don’t act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, especially you Republican male senators) while quietly nibbling at your ear, “When I was president I reformed welfare and balanced the budget.” I hope he asks me to prom, I’ll totally give it up in the parking lot.  And speaking of Catholic school dances, who brought the nun?  Now I feel guilty for jerking off to Pornhub at work this morning.

How about that cow Chris Christie? He became visibly sweatier every time someone mentioned the Medicare “doughnut hole.” I thought he might eat the podium when his metabolism was at peak levels, meaning right above somnolent.  This sanctimonious blimp has been heralded throughout the media, and not just by shameless Republicans, as a no-nonsense, truth-talking “reformer” who gets “results” and drives embittered, alcoholic armchair pundits to put lots of ordinary “words” in “scare quotes” because we don’t know what any goddamn thing “means” anymore.  “Reform” usually means kicking Grandma in the teeth so the money that would have paid for her surgery can line the pocket of someone like Willard “Mitt” Romney who benefits from a tax cut or a sweetheart government contract. Christie has been endlessly touted as the next big thing (ha) and a presidential frontrunner for 2016; he was even begged to jump into the GOP’s 2012 train wreck despite the glaring fact that a blue-state Governor who has made a point of not hating immigrants or Muslims enough could not possibly win the brain-damaged Deliverance reenactment known as the Republican primary.  The saddest part of this whole Christie story is that he actually won office running against a Wall Street sleazebag and world-class con artist so venal and colorless that he actually makes this self-righteous Republican Jabba the Hut look good.  And that’s saying a lot.

Christie was the only person at the RNC whose speech actually made any kind of coherent point, even it was unmitigated bullshit.  At least you could understand what he was trying to say: Hey, folks, we need to tighten our belts—ha again—and pull up our socks and get our budget in order.  You know, bitter pill, tough medicine, all that stuff. The rest of the RNC was just a pathetic orgy of resentment, paranoia, and self-congratulation by a bunch of neanderthal cultists who think the ideal form of government would be Ayn Rand running the Spanish Inquisition.

I’m voting for this lady .. wait, she’s not running?

Take Paul Ryan. (Please.)  Speaking of Randians, this guy should revisit the fact that his writerly heroine also supported abortion. Way to pick and choose, Congressman. This supercilious little dweeb doesn’t have the balls to come out and say that if you’re poor, sick with cancer and dying in a gutter it’s your own goddamned fault, but he is willing to say that government dependency is a soul-sucking sickness, and everybody should be responsible for themselves, and rich, white people earned every nickel they have entirely on their own with no help from anyone else—but if things are wrong in your life it’s the big, bad government’s fault.  The massive twenty-car-pileup of logic that lets the GOP’s massively white and Christian base feel sorry for themselves and blame the government while telling everyone else to stop being such a parasite and sink or swim on their own would be difficult to accept if the spectacle of Ryan, who’s barely worked a day outside of government, whining about the evils of the state weren’t so incredibly distracting.  To paraphrase Matt Taibbi, he looked like Opie addressing the Reichstag.

And don’t get us started with the mindblowing Obama’s-never-had-a-real-job canard. They said he has never run so much as a lemonade stand. You should really question your own judgment if you think it’s a good idea to put people in power who believe that running the federal government is easier than selling lemonade to thirsty suburbanites.

Willard. Even the GOP’s dear leader looks like a Ken doll deeply in need of some Keith Hernandez touch of grey.  His campaign clearly determined that a paint-by-the-numbers snooze was the best for their notoriously robotic candidate—especially when his henchmen like Ryan can do the dirty work.  Willard worked his way through the platitudes in perfunctory fashion—family, faith, private sector, we built it—but without verve or even conviction.  Even his real sentiments sounded fake.  What kind of person seems insincere when talking about their parents’ unconditional love?  Willard actually winces when he’s trying to be genuine.  He can’t decide if he wants to be an empty suit cipher, the anonymous good-enough candidate who will step in when voters sour on Obama’s economic stewardship, or if he’s prepared to go the full Palin and lead a revanchist mob of pitchfork-wielding hayseeds to storm the Bastille and the Politburo all at once.  His diffidence on this point was on full display at the RNC, and it should give even his supporters pause about what kind of leader he is or will be.  Or is that “leader”?

Hell yeah I want to bomb Iran

Then there was Artur Davis. He gave a good speech, but seriously who turncoats to the GOP, especially when you’re black? I mean, talk about creating a job for yourself. The fucking National Review probably creamed its jeans when he sauntered in with tales of Obama’s cruelly seductive whisperings of big government solutions, only to realize that he needed to double down with a bunch of fucking white guys who think Romney is a “boss” because he had boys (about fourteen of them) instead of girls.

A slippery, soulless party-switcher is now the must-have accessory of all political conventions apparently.  It started with Zell Miller’s still-frightening impression of a mouth-foaming, fundamentalist badger in 2004 and continued with Joe Lieberman’s inspired turn as Droopy Dog in 2008 and Charlie Crist’s coming-out party as an Orange-American in this year’s DNC.  It’s as if political expediency and self-serving careerism is a quality these parties actually want to display.

You know I’m kind of a big deal.

The fucking Democrats.  This Warren character says she is half native American or something, but she looks like my great Aunt Glenda and talks like Jimmy Stewart in It’s a Wonderful Life; she’s about as indigenous as Kevin Costner in a wet dream.  As Mark Steyn said of the Dems’ breezy approach to identity politics:

The recipes from “Elizabeth Warren — Cherokee” include a crab dish with tomato mayonnaise. Mrs. Warren’s fictional Cherokee ancestors in Oklahoma were renowned for their ability to spear the fast-moving Oklahoma crab. It’s in the state song: “Ooooooklahoma! Where the crabs come sweepin’ down the plain . . . ” But then the white man came and now the Oklahoma crab is extinct, and at the Cherokee clambakes they have to make do with Mrs. Warren’s traditional Five Tribes recipe for Cherokee Lime Pie.

Michelle Obama, though, that lady is a killer.  I want her on my team at trivia night if only because I bet she will pummel our opponents while flashing a ten-gigawatt smile.  How much would you pay for a steel cage match between her and Ann Romney?  No hair-pulling cat fight here; face shots and body blows all around. My money’s on Michelle but I bet Ann’s got some steel to her. I mean, you’d have to to marry a stiff like Mitt the Twit.  She would administer a red-ass beatdown and then say something disparaging about “you people.”

Man or teeth? You decide.

The Big Finale? “You’re getting as bad as Biden. Of course we all know Biden is the intellect of the Democratic Party… Just kind of a grin with a body behind it.” Some old man with crazy hair said this at the RNC and well, he’s not far off.  O’Biden, Biden, whatever, he takes stumbling stream of consciousness to new levels.  Like the Cheshire Cat, he’s all teeth and misleading comments. They shove the old man into 25 minutes tonight, and two to one odds, he makes Ryan look like a Mensa member. Then there’s the big dog, Barack Hussein Obama, a man so emotionally remote that when a former girlfriend told him, “I love you,” he said “Thanks.” Between drone strikes and Gitmo, BHO reminds me of a song by the National, “Start a War”: “We expected something, something better than before. We expected something more.” Do you think Hilary ever looks at him and wonders, I lost to this guy?

Still, for all my vitriol, I can’t act like all these conventions are equivalent.  For all the banging on about “the Chicago White House,” I wouldn’t want a president from anywhere else.  Dick Daley and his kid knew how to bang heads to get something done, no matter what that disingenuous, twee ToM contributor Ryan Reft, who seems to take every chance he gets to shit on the Father Son Mayoral duo, says.  Hey Reft, last time I checked it was one of few Rust Belt cities to survive the apocalyptic 1970s and 1980s; go back to your hipster hovel in Williamsburg, you Midwestern traitor.

Obama cracks skulls; the GOP shatters cognitive reasoning. Are the Dems a little too precious? Yes. Do they whore around their multiculturalism like a dog in heat?  The DNC looked like it was Diversity Bingo Night at a rest home for aging hippies. Will I grow tired of their weird fetishization of military service? Probably, but Tammy Duckworth of Illinois, the Iraq veteran with prosthetic legs, they need to make a statue of her and carry it around the nation. The point is at least they can trumpet these things.  No tax cut is ever going to reach the public sector, but those motherfuckers at the Democratic party at least want to make my daily life of drudgery a little bit more tolerable, even if they fuck it up half the time. I’ll close with a line from the National (speaking of fetishization):

Stay out super late tonight picking apples, making pies
Put a little something in our lemonade and take it with us
We’re half awake in a fake empire
We’re half awake in a fake empire

Both parties want to make us a giant apple pie on the dole and watch us stuff our faces as we slowly slip into a food coma unable to act or think in any meaningful way.  Our inertia is their pork barrel tea party followed by innocent purging in the bathroom. And they both still seem to think America is the only place on earth that cares about liberty and freedom or that “God” someone how favors us over all others (have you read the Bible, people? Israel comes up a lot more than America). The Dems, at least, will let us sneak in that bottle of vodka lemonade the National so treasures, so we can get a little tipsy amid all the bullshit.  Half the GOP wants to enter me into rehab or send me to some kind of gay conversion camp to fix me.  No thanks — I’ll take my buzz and my Clinton reach around.

The views of the author are his own and do not represent those of Tropics of Meta.

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  1. [...] have a new piece up at Tropics of Meta on the DNC and RNC.  My academic loser friends let me get a few jibes in at their precious [...]

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