The Festival of Mendacity

The broad outlines of the GOP presidential stakes are coming into focus, and it ain’t a pretty picture.

Ms. Palin’s campaign handlers have clearly and repeatedly tried for an upstaging strategy. She pulled it on Mitt Romney in New Hampshire, and now she’s pulled it for the Ames Straw Poll, showing up with her bus at the Iowa State Fair over the weekend.

And, Rick Perry played “upstage” by announcing his neo-Confederate/Dominionist candidacy in South Carolina as the selfsame “Straw Poll” was taking place.

In both cases, an intentional ploy to steal the spotlight and undermine all the other candidates who are “workin’ hard and playin’ by the rules.”

Seriously: this kind of crap wouldn’t pass muster in a high school election for a Student Council president. But infantilism and narcissism seem to be the tactic of choice in the GOP field. That, and a complete disregard for those annoying facts. It doesn’t matter what y0ur political stripe is, this is emblematic of a deeper rot in the American body politic: the need to beg, borrow or steal the “media” spotlight now supercedes all other imperatives. Issues, facts and solutions to increasingly grave national problems are a distant second to GETTING YOUR FACE ON THE TUBE, BABY!

There are two equally culpable parties here: the rise of the paid political professional as the determinant factor in campaigns, and the utter superficiality of a 24-hour-news-cycle driven media who are unwilling or mentally unable to comprehend the important issues of the day.

And, of course, the vertically-integrated monopoly that is News Corp. gets to pick and choose WHO among the GOP pretenders gets that all-important face time, while the Tea Party patrols the periphery of the visual field, threatening swift and sudden retribution should any GOP candidate stray from the “true faith” of no taxes and no spending.

This is all well and good for a Junior High School election, where the graffiti scrawled in the bathroom stalls is every bit as potent as any other form of campaigning about nothing. But it is not fit and proper for a great nation or even a mediocre people. We face serious and dire structural problems, not the least of which is that our infrastructure is rotting and needs help immediately. Add to that the loss of middle class jobs to literal slavery and we have the two gravest problems facing our country.

Note that ignorance is a form of enslavement, as well

But nothing is ever actually said about these things. What is said is what focus groups have indicated will get the best response, what is proposed is whatever has polled as the most palatable to a cockamamie demographic, and even in “fair” — albeit sound-bitten and all but nonsensical — debates and the open bribery of the Ames Straw Poll must take a backseat to media stunts and blatant upstaging.

In the theater, it’s a great way to lose a job. In politics, seemingly, it’s THE way to win a job.

“Heads we win, Tails you lose”
(Our motto)

The outlines of a vicious and gutter-driven campaign about unicorns and other mythical creatures seems clearly defined now, and it is a damned shame that there are no adults left in the room as the Snivelization of the Guttersnipes trundles forward on Wheels of Purese Ordure.

Increasingly, this looks less like “what democracy looks like” and more like “Disneyland Democracy,” or, “Great Moments with Mr. Rove,” as the audio-animatronic political consultant steps to the podium to lip-synch its canned message to those Disneyland patrons trying to duck the late summer heat in the air-conditioned auditorium of an otherwise dull and stultifying exercise in “patriotism.”

Automatons on Parade.



A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, a survivor of Texas and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted from his blog.

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.
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