“Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising.”
~Mark Twain, A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
And ‘twere ever thus, Mark Twain. With PBS as my portal, the strange, almost surrealistic Republican National Convention rolled across the digital infinity. One might be tempted to end this piece before it begins, with the obvious: “what sitting President with a pulse could lose a game of jacks, let alone his office to these conflicted maroons”, and let the loyal BNV readership return to its knitting. But…from a slick, media-driven contrivance made bearable by gut-splitting standup comedy (the best kind – unintentional), the Republicans offered a few Parkeresque pearls to be cast before the swine.
Although the American left might not like it much, John McCain was the articulate GOP patriot on display, confirmed as the most principled yesterdays / yesteryears / yesterdecades man imaginable. McCain’s personal philosophies were forged during his five-year stretch in the cozy confines of the Hanoi Hilton. One must make allowances, big time, for someone who clung to the belief that the US has remained true to the same principles that run in a straight line from Korea, through Nam, the Gulf Wars, its wonderful surrogates such as the early jihadist Russian-hating Osama bin Laden, and the Afghanistan killing grounds. It scares the living bejeezus out of this Canadian observer that McCain and Condoleezza Rice were to these ears the most persuasive speakers in an otherwise sad array of pathetic red state hacks and flacks (the two bantering State attorney generals reprising ‘Dumb and Dumber’ a particular low lite). Both McCain and Rice made little mention of partisan politics to the adoring throng. Instead they trumpeted the greatest of all canards – American exceptionalism – as to why the Obama crew must go, for the sin of ‘leading from behind’.
Exceptionalism is the one chord that might actually resonate past party lines in November. I suspect that this misplaced belief may be the one tie that binds your otherwise fractured body politic. When the Dems play their various rebuttals from Charlotte this week, they too will babble on about restoring America’s presumptive place in the world, as if something foreordained. The Republicans and the Democrats together, from Nixon through Clinton, to Bush Jr, happily let Wall Street take capitalism to its logical and remarkably destructive conclusion, and the world has taken it right up the keyster. This ship has sailed, people. The only thing exceptional about the United States at this moment is its unerring ability to believe its own advertising.