Friday, September 5, 2008

Note Cards

Just to get a few things straight. John McCain has executive experience. Lots of it. He was an officer in the military for 22 years. What does an officer do? Make decisions. What does an executive do? See answer to previous question.

So when the weasel Jon Stewart snickers and giggles that none of the canditatorial senators have executive experience, and poor Newt agrees -- well, Newt missed a step there. Jon does nothing but.

I guess they're thinking that only politicians matter.

And there's this, uh, idea that Sarah did nothing as head of the National Guard. So, like, that means she's bad or something. A liar maybe. Unqualified. I beg to differ. I have a sort of friend who's a sheriff's deputy. Working in the LA County Jail. He seems to have lots and lots of free time, in that job. The joke was that he did nothing. His answer was this: "It's not what I do -- it's what I'm prepared to do."

I'm sure mediocrities rise to positions of symbolic power such as state head of some National Guard. Does Sarah seem like a mediocrity? Given the incomprehensible incompetence of such state officials as the former governor of Louisiana, and the still current mayor of New Orleans, we do know that rank hacks can gain offices that are above their pay grade, because of, say, race, or gender, or good old boy corruption. But if Sarah were a mediocrity, would the grand vast body of the right be swooning over her? If this is true, then it is true for Obama as well. An unknown, who can make powerful speeches. The difference must lie in actual accomplishments. Which ground has been covered.

That brings us to the power of oratory. It is all about style. That's it. When we read these speeches, they do not soar. They are not poetry, on the page. We find no sublime phrases such as Lincoln's Vicksburg exclamation, "The Father of Waters rolls once more unvexed to the sea." What makes these speeches impressive is the emotion behind them. Sometimes passion, sometimes conviction, and so on, but emotion. And what might have been obvious manipulation and a writer's standard effort to end big -- "Stand. Stand. Stand. " -- is transformed by the way it is received. So with Obama. So with Sarah.

When we realize this, about style and its play on emotion, we have to look through it, at the actual meaning. The substance. The there that must be there. This is where the quibbling starts. Biden complained that in Sarah's speech there was no talk about government assistance for college tuition, and no grand appeal to save the globe, and suchlike liberal touchstones. Obama says nothing meaningful about Iran.

So there you go then. Boilerplate liberal and conservative issues, that boil down to almost inchoate temperamental factors. We are what we are because that's what we are. Transformation is hardly ever possible. The moment's emotion lifts us up, but we subside once more. All that remains is the memory of a sensation. Oh, that, and whatever actual substance a speech may have contained. Which may or may not have been heard, through the emotion.

And one last thing. Why is it that the Dem conventions are never interrupted by conservative protesters? They're always disrupted by even more liberal protesters. Why? It's almost a potty training thing. Those screaming spoiled brats you see in the supermarket? Guess who they grow up to be.


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