Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Binders, Big Bird and The Actors studio. Oh My.

So I guess James Lipton wrote something or said something and now he has a role as a political pundit. It's amusing I suppose but it's also disturbing. I know that politics is also theater. He's an interesting man. I just struggle with how much focus is put on the appearance of it all.
For a long time the campaigns weren't making much real news and so every gaffe and silly story was banged on all day long. Not useful. I'm always wanting talk about issues. Of course in the first debate when President Obama tried to explain things he was called out for being too wonky and Romney was declared the winner, not just by the right wing media but the left (such as it is) leaning media as well. It felt to me like the MSNBC people in particular seemed to spasm. They'd listened to Romney lie and lie and lie and they all wanted to fact check him, which they did but they were so angry. Biden was more confrontational ( malarkey) ( my new favorite word) and he was declared the winner. I don't even get how you declare a winner.
These debates go by so quickly there's no time to make a substantive point. I didn't even hear the now infamous binder remark because I was processing what had already been said. I started seeing all these Twitter and Facebook things about about binders and had no idea why. And again. Amusing. Charming. I love the fact that the Internet can spawn a meme so quickly but it takes over. There is good information coming out of it. But it's like grabbing a bad articulation and beating it into the ground.
And Big Bird. Again. Funny. Spawned many great Internet thing-a-ma-jigs. I'm not really that critical. I'm just frustrated. It's all so frenetic and I'm too afraid. Intellectually I know my reactions are disproportionate but I'm wound up. I rely on John Stewart to talk me off the ledge. Somehow he manages to embed serious and precise criticism in jokes. Masterful.
I think I may put too much faith in conversation. It doesn't always solve things.
I went looking for a clip from the West Wing in which there is argument about whether Bartlett should use the word torpor in a speech. Some of his staff thought the word was obscure and would make him sound like a professor, which he was. I think there's a monologue about engaging a great conversation in the country. I couldn't find it but I did find this and it is remarkably apt.  

I started writing this a week ago. Someone called and I never got back to it. The weekend came and went. I watched One Bright Shining Moment, which came from Netflix ironically the same weekend McGovern passed away. I enjoyed the film. I was reminded that eighteen year-olds got the right to vote in seventy one. I was seventeen at the time. McGovern  lost his bid for the presidency in seventy-two. I'm pretty sure he was the first candidate for whom I voted. And his loss was the beginning of my frustration with Beltway politics. 
And then there was the last and final debate. On foreign policy. Not my favorite. I'm not that happy with our foreign policy. The left leaning media pundits say Romney "hugged" the president because he has no policy of his own and he didn't want to damage his campaign. Maybe. For me it was just a demonstration of fear driven chest thumping post 9/11 foreign policy from both parties. 
So two more weeks. I guess we'll see. Judging by the news of the day I don't see things getting more dignified, or serious. I listened to a debate between the third party candidates. Interesting. I don't find any of them compelling but they're talking about things that get no coverage. Climate change. Legalization of marijuana. They don't disagree on much. Still. Interesting. And no mention of Muppets.    

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