Friday, September 7, 2012

Circuses Without Bread

Dave and I are finally catching up on some of the political convention speeches. We haven't seen Obama's yet, but we watched Michelle Obama and Bill Clinton on YouTube last night.

Then, for the sake of balance, we watched Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan. (We tried to watch Rick Santorum but we just couldn't stand it.)

Now, I ask you -- how could the choice be any more clear? The Republican convention (lily white, by the way) seemed cheerless and flat. There were empty seats. There was a background hum during the speeches that sounded to me like people talking, maybe about their next trip to Chick-Fil-A. There was just no energy in that room -- particularly when Romney spoke. Say what you will about Paul Ryan and his penchant for inaccuracies (I'm being nice and not calling them lies) -- he can at least give a speech. Watching Romney is like watching your high school principal at an assembly.

Michelle Obama, on the other hand, was a moving, forceful, graceful speaker -- like Jackie Kennedy with more substance. And Clinton! Holy mackerel. That guy could have gone on forever. Here he was talking about the nitty gritty of deficits and medicare and I was enthralled. I didn't always agree with him as president, but I sure do miss him. And I don't mean to dwell on mere showmanship -- I haven't seen a bunch of news articles about inaccuracies in his speech.

And let's talk about the energy in that room. The demographics of the party were on full display -- blacks, whites, asians, Hispanics, you name it. Everybody was there, and everybody was cheering and nodding and participating. I did not get the feeling of forced enthusiasm that seemed to pervade the room at the RNC in Tampa.

We'll watch Obama's speech tonight. But really -- isn't the choice already crystal clear?

(Photos: Street art on Old Kent Road in South London. According to Wikipedia, the common phrase "Bread and circuses" is "a metaphor for a superficial means of appeasement. In the case of politics, the phrase is used to describe the creation of public approval, not through exemplary or excellent public service or policy, but through diversion, distraction and/or the mere satisfaction of the immediate, shallow requirements of the populace." As the street art points out, some -- Romney and Ryan, I would argue -- have even sacrificed those shallow requirements.)


  1. It seems so obvious to me which candidates are speaking from the heart and which are speaking from the, uh, what? Where? You nailed it- like an assistant principal. Droney, droney, droney, whoops! Drooney...

    Your illustration was perfect!

  2. I did not watch any of the RNC or the speeches besides catching tidbits here and there as my husband channel surfed. Did watch Clinton though. The man is a master. And watched Obama last night. He was really good as well. One of the things I noticed about his speech was that he used the pronouns he and she, him and her interchangeably. in other words, all his references to the people were not masculine pronouns, they were just as often feminine pronouns as related to all aspects of life and business including using 'she' when he was talking about the opportunity and possibility of a child becoming president in this country. It was so refreshing after a lifetime of hearing men and women give speeches where the pronouns are always male.

  3. Clinton was awesome on that stage.

    ...and in the words of Bif Naked, he "smokes a really big cigar!"

  4. We hadn't watched anything until last night. It was funny - I went out to eat with some friends & they had the convention on in the sports bar where we ate. I got to watch Gabby Giffords lead the Pledge of Allegience - made me cry.

    Then Mike had it on when I got home. Love that Obama - the whole family really. And you're so right about the energy - those folks were having a party!

  5. the choice does seem clear! love that graffiti.

  6. Jim made the exact same observations you did: the DNC looked like America, and Clinton could have gone on for another hour, and we would have been completely engrossed.

    And like The Bug, I teared up during Gabby Gifford's pledge.

  7. Yup.

    On all of it.

    I heard some guys from that big fact checker organization talking that there was very little to contest out of Clinton's speech, that his grasp of facts was indeed accurate and aside from a little "spin" here and there, astoundingly truthful.

  8. I hope you are voting by absentee, Steve!

  9. the idiocy of AMURIKA scares me so much. If , by idiocy, Mitten becomes the president, hang on it is going to be slippery and straight down. Liars , posers, it is clear. I LOVED the speech by Sandra Fluke as well and viewing the audience, engaged and diverse- I even saw a half burka! The juxtaposition of GOP and Dems- was like concrete by a rich, colourful mosaic. No contest really...just idiocy- and that is so sad.
    Great street art- amazing! Thanks for this post from over the pond- it is refreshing!