Amis on the conventions
Matthew Boudway September 18, 2012 - 9:57pm
For those who missed it, here Martin Amis does for the conventions in Tampa and Charlotte what Norman Mailer did for the 1968 conventions in Miami and Chicago, albeit in much smaller scope. Nearly every paragraph is worth quoting. There is this:
Madamic good ole girls in scarlet ensembles, peanut-faced glozers in ambassadorial suits and ties, puns, rhymes, tinkertoy wordplay (Give me libertynot gimme, gimme, gimme), alliteration, iteration, my mom said to me, started a small business, almighty God is the truth of all we have, inherit our hopes and dreams, my daddy said to me, started a small businessand all of this seconded by the brain-dead, couch-potato tweets that looped the hall in illuminated script: Im so proud to be a Republican, The Bush family is so awesome, Look at all the Olympians on stage for Romney. SO COOL! And the Party was partying, all bounce and yelp and whoop. By the second day I felt as sour as Bill Murray, mingling for the thousandth time with the capering revelers (Pick out your partner and join in the fun) on Gobblers Knob.
Once a night, on average, the grim torpor briefly lifted. With Ann Romney, the interest was human interest. Here was a woman who had submitted, no doubt with qualms, to the inevitable falsity of political display; and you warmed to her warmth, even as you realized that much of her speech, with its emphasis on working moms, the couple who want another child but cant afford it, and so on, was plainly disingenuous. The strugglers she claimed to champion (and it was allegedly tough for the basement-dwelling Romneys, back in the day) are the very people that her husband, if elected, will do nothing for. You realized, too, that Ann wont help the GOPs desperate quest for diversity: she looks like the worthy winner of Miss Dairy Queen 1970. Tonight I want to talk to you about love, Ann had said. And then Governor Christie waddled on. Chris wanted to talk about Chris, though he did what he could for the cause: his mom told him, apparently, that love was bull and what you needed was respect.
At the RNC it was Ryans oratory, not Romneys, that inspired the rawest gust of triumphalism. And that rapture, we were told, would remain undiluted by the discovery, the next morning, that the speech was very largely a pack of lies. According to the campaign managers, there is no penalty, these days, for political deceit. When planning this race the Republicans envisaged a classic pincer strategy: they would buy the election with super-PAC millions, while also stealing it with gerrymandering and voter suppression (an effort that seems to be faltering in the courts). No penalty? Dont believe it. Who will submit to being lied to with a sneer? The effects of dishonesty are cumulative. Undetectable by focus groups or robocalls, they build in the unconscious mind, creating just the kind of unease that will sway the undecided in November.
About the Author
Matthew Boudway is an associate editor of Commonweal.