You can't really appreciate the extent to which politicians are actors until you're seated in a shitty press seat at a political convention that does not give you a direct view of the stage, but which does give you a view of a huge TV screen showing the politician speak and, simultaneously, a view of the teleprompter from which they're reading. In this position, every dramatic pause, every glowing smile, every instance of pointy-finger and raised voice and shaken head can be seen for what it really is: an actor, reading lines, trying to get the part.
Republicans are saps for bad actors. Too much time building up that credulousness in church.
Rick Santorum's narrowed eyes and raspy intonation as he rambled about "dirty hands with scars" outed him as a mere Charades version of Clint Eastwood, a church boy trying and failing to impersonate a pirate. Texan hair grease candidate Ted Cruz, hovering inside his dark suit, resembles the WWF's Paul Bearer trying to convince the good guys he's come to their side: gesture. Pause. Slit eyes. Shit eating smile. Speak.
"I want to tell you a love story," said Cruz. "It's a story of all of us. It's a love story of freedom." Worst love story ever. Republicans can't do sex talk, so all their talk of love takes on a diabetic level of sappiness that often threatens to spill into mass mutual spontaneous sugar shock for all of us forced to watch. The party is so white that anyone, anyone with a drop of ethnic or even exotic-European blood was rounded up and trotted out onto the Tampa Bay Times Forum stage last night to say their little bit. Mitt Romney was the rich man rounding up the gardener and the maid to liven up the Christmas card picture. The crowd, needless to say, ate it up.
Artur Davis is a former Democrat whose flat top looks to have been cut with garden shears. Though not old, he has the habit of gumming his lips like the extremely elderly. He said nothing of note. Nor did Nikki Haley, whose most defining political skills seem to be her ability to make sign language gestures while speaking, and to tout South Carolina's tiremaking abilities on a national stage. "We are about to become the number one tire producing state in the country!" she thundered. Indeed. Drive through South Carolina on I-95 and you'll see most of those tires in tatters on the side of the road. It's quite a sight. Someone give that state a leadership position.
From there, it descended further into farce. Luce Fortuno, the wife of the governor of Puerto Rico and, presumably, the only staunch female Hispanic Republican the organizers could round up, was given a prime slot. Ann Romney—well, you all saw it on TV. I can say that it was only worse when a hi-def image of her head towered dozens of feet above you, her words booming at you through a stadium full of speakers, and your view was blocked by undeserved intermittent standing ovations and masses of delegates waving pseudo-homemade "We Love Ann" signs, which, though I have not looked into it, I assume were produced by state prisoners.
She is cultish. "You know it's true, don't you?" she demanded of America's women. "I love you women!" Outstanding, quality speechwriting, for Ann Romney. Most disturbing were here awkward declarations of "deep love for this man." Tell sex stories or get off America's TV. We are the world's most voracious pornography consumers. Even our Lifetime movies are thinly veiled porn. This is why a Mormon will always fail to connect with America, deep down. Not enough sexual overtone.
Chris Christie benefited from his pre-roll propaganda film. By the time he bounded onto stage, the arena had all the buzz of a crowd in a C-list town waiting to watch a B-list comedian film his HBO special. "Introducing.... Dom Irrera!" Chris Christie is paunchy and mean. He loves to pick on teachers, so he must be a tough guy. He speaks like a Little League coach firing up his team for the county championship. I left before he finished. There was a young black guy with cornrows in the bathroom, working as a janitor, emptying the trash, as the thunders of Republican applause echoed from inside the forum yards away. I was gonna pump him for a revealing quote about inequality, but I didn't have the heart.