Monday, September 10, 2012

The Personal As Political

(Click on image to enlarge and then return if you know what's good for you.)

David Horsey raised an issue which has been nagging at me for months. How much do I really want to know about a candidate's personal life before I vote for him/her?

At 2012’s national political party conventions, though, self-revelation was a requirement. It was as if the candidates, their wives and many of the supporting speakers were guests of Oprah or (reaching way back to early TV) contestants on “Queen for a Day.”

This imperative to get personal was due, in part, to the unusually private natures of the men at the top in both parties. Mitt Romney, in particular, needed to get beyond the not-inaccurate caricature of him as a stiff rich guy who will say anything or take any convenient position to get elected. And so, his wife, Ann, was given the prime spot on the first night of the convention to tell how much fun her guy was on their first date, reminisce about the makeshift furniture they had in their student apartment and recall how splendid Mitt was with their five bratty boys.

Strange as it seems, President Obama also needed reintroduction. Even after four years as president, a lot of people cannot see past his cool demeanor while a frighteningly large share of the electorate imagines him born and raised in some Kenyan village under the tutelage of scheming Third World socialists. ...

Twenty-first century America is a society that craves intimate details about celebrities while common citizens share personal facts freely on Facebook and Twitter. It is no surprise that the handlers of our presidential candidates seek to win advantage by feeding that public fascination. There is nothing wrong with this, unless biography overshadows serious discussion of policy. ...

It is swell that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama are good family men with exemplary mothers. But, after watching two weeks of speeches in Tampa, Fla., and Charlotte, N.C., we may know more about how they wooed their wives than how they plan to fix the economy.
[Emphasis added]

As I've said here many times, I don't care what church candidates attend (or don't). I don't actually care if they are philanderers. I do care if they are convicted felons, especially if the felonies involve fraud in the business place or criminal charges for rape, including rape of children. Most convicted felons, however, don't run for public office.

What this development really is involves, as Horsey astutely points out, the current American thirst for celebritude: we're down, so amuse us so we feel better.

What this campaign should be about is what each candidate proposes for ways to make us better so we can survive the hard times we're in. Since neither candidate is willing to go that extra mile I can only conclude that neither has a clue.

And that is frightening.

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