Which means rarely and hopefully after the fact if at all possible. In large part this is because political parties, to me at least, are starting to seem very much like sports teams in the NFL. The conflict seems choreographed and, in the end, pointless. “GO SPORTS TEAM!!!!” So say the instructions, I’m just not compelled. Not even one little bit.
But any one who gives even passing attention to social media will invariably encounter third party accounts of both sporting and political happenings, days and even weeks after any notable “event.” For instance, my narrative of the Seahawks/Packers game has grown significantly in the interim. Fans of the game have made comments and thus added flesh to a time and place that would have otherwise remained skeletal in my recollection. I suppose this could be a zombie world view. If we speculate that the undead are in possession of conscious thought then perhaps they experience a vicarious existence, only encountering the experience and memories of their victims while gnawing on their brains.
Anyway, having spent a little time watching, I enjoyed the SOTU. Much of what President Obama had to say resonated with me starting with changing the political and tax structure of our nation for the better. I am glad too, that the President has recognized both the existence of anthropogenic climate change and the necessity of changing our behavior in the aggregate in order to maintain a human future on this planet.
But then there is the theater of the event. And that friends, is what we come to watch. I was rooting for John Boehner throughout the whole 59 minutes and 57 seconds of the speech. The guy looked like he desperately needed to make a trip to the latrine. Like there was a tsunami of effluent knocking down his back door and flowing over his flood barriers. I wanted to dress up in theater black and sneak onto the podium to momentarily hand him a couple of Imodium.
I chose to enrich my narrative by pitying this man because the alternative, the story line in which he spends the entirety of the President’s speech looking peeved and petulant, seemed to me scornfully abusive of him. It reminded me of how far we haven’t come, and how unlikely we are to reach higher. If the Speaker cannot find it in himself to respect the office, let alone the man, then what lowered standards of conduct should we anticipate from all those people who make this country work?
Then the curtain closes and we gather up our things and tuck our programmes into a pocket and head for the door. Right?
Not so fast, the main event is over, but the show must go on. The Republican response to the SOTU was fucking amazing sauce. A rich mine of theatrical and comedic who-ha, all the Presidential hopefuls tripping over one another and themselves in a mad rush to befuddle the masses. That’s like finding gold and diamonds in the same dig.
“Hah! Joni Ernst wore those bread bags during the Reagan administration!”
I hadn’t watched Joni Ernst’s official response speech until this morning, at which point I had to ask for help scraping my jaw off the floor. Really? Did you write that yourself? Did you bother to have anyone read it over before you stood up in front of the whole of the nation, nay the world, to foist that load of crap our way? Because it was cute, but that’s about all.
Honey, a fucking bus load of kids with bread bags on their feet means one of two things. It could be that the autobus de scolaire is designated transportation for patient-children suffering from Lionel Poilâne Syndrome. In that case find some butter and follow those nut jobs, you’re in for a gluten enriched célébration de pain. Otherwise, you’ve encountered the economic byproduct of a willfully ignorant electorate in adolescent form. Not being able to afford a second pair of shoes isn’t a right of passage, neither is it a situation we should hope to cultivate. The fact that this is part of the GOP narrative, that they constantly try to spin that line of bull crap, is evidence that indeed there is a culture clash going on in America. The hopelessly superstitious part of the country and the rest of us are trying to occupy the same space and failing.
“That’s the view of the people who live in the bubble-ville…. The whole point is that there is a real clash of cultures and there is a disconnect between people who live in the bubbles of New York, Washington, and Hollywood verses the people who live in the land of the bubbas.”
— Mike Huckabee on The Daily Show.
“God, Guns, Grits, and Gravy” may be a cultural norm in some parts of this nation, but not one I will ever want to emulate. I enjoy living in the 21st Century and none of those things seem to fit here. Add to this that this nonsense is only thinly veiled social injustice.
You can watch Ted Cruz’s epic flub on youtube, but beyond the first ten seconds there’s nothing terribly notable. Seems the only thing this guy is really good at is shutting down the government. I snickered and then moved on to the horror show.
Yep, Rand Paul remains the resident freak superior. He opens his response with a smile and then dives head first down a rat hole.
Honestly, I didn’t get very far into this. When I was in the Army I knew a sergeant who liked to say “don’t piss on my boots and tell me it’s raining.” Paul has moxie. He’s got guts. And he must employ a team of writers and idea people because I spent the first couple of minutes of this fighting off the feeling that he was asking me to thank him for crapping on my shoes.
“America is adrift?” We need new leadership? Wait, hold on a second, yeah I couldn’t agree more, but you’ve “only been in office a short time.”
Clearly, if any of President Obama’s suggestions are going to be ignored by the prevailing political structure, it is without question going to be the one where he calls for improving the political dialogue in this country. Absolutely all of the GOP “response” speech has been simple repetition of the same tired bullet points they always spout off accompanied by homey, hackneyed anecdotes involving shoe shortages or pig balls.
The problem with hope
Some six or seven years in, depending how you count, our nation is now confronted by the problem of hope. There isn’t anything intrinsically wrong with the idea that we can hope for more or better. But hoping is meaningless without achievement. And sure President Obama has achieved plenty given the circumstances of his term of office. But I come away from this very optimistic SOTU feeling like I should aspire to that utopian vision we all mass hallucinated back in 2007 and 2008. That if I want it bad enough, if I work hard enough, I’ll somehow be able to educate the superstitious, willful and idiotic masses. That I’ll be able, through the power of my conviction that all human potential can be realized, to convince others to aspire to altruism.
“When you believe in things you don’t understand then you suffer.”
— Stevie Wonder, Superstitious
Which is why I choose realism. Every morning I ask myself, “What can I realistically do today?” Sure, I hear the proposals. I’d love some gub’mint help to go back to college, but is that likely? What is more realistic is that I’ll spend too much time arguing with the Veterans’ Administration over their snafus with my paperwork. Yeah, the same old crap in this machine. Nothing ever changes.
Now, back to real life. There’s a pile of dishes collecting on my kitchen counter, a geologically significant collection of laundry that needs washing, and I may need to visit the men’s room because as I write this I’m making that John Boehner face.