RNC Darlings
13 September, 2012

In a speech in the House of Commons on 11 November 1947, Winston Churchill said: No one pretends that democracy is perfect or all-wise. Indeed, it has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time. Churchill forgot to add that democracy is also by far the most entertaining form of government. In the last two weeks in the US we have been treated to dazzling

(some more dazzling than others) political performances.

First came the Republican National Convention, where the Republican Party rolled out the carpet and after parading out Ann Romney in an effort to humanize her husband and to dispel the idea that Republican Party had declared a war on women, nominated the new presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The sparkle and the glitter that was Ann Romney, could not do away with the negative and menacing spirit of the rest of the speakers who seemed to misunderstand the point of public speaking which in this case was to make the wavering voters like them and want to vote for them, and bashing the other guy wasn’t the way to do it. On a large national stage, addressing millions of people, one must either speak truthfully or have a fantastic acting coach to pull of sincerity. Ann Romney spoke brilliantly of her love for her husband, but when it came to speaking about women struggling to pay bills, find jobs and keep family happy, she was out of her depth. It is hard to believe that a millionaire’s wife, coifed up in her Oscar de la Renta, looking like a throwback to 50’s housewife with nannies and chauffeurs, could understand what a low wage life would entail. But it was fun to watch her try and convince the viewers she did.

Even more morbidly fascinating was the vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan, who looked like a little boy who’s parents let him stay up way past his bedtime for the first time and sit at the grownup table. He was fun to listen to just for the sheer amount of lies he told in his speech. The idea that his fact checkers and his writers weren’t able to either see his blatant lies, or weren’t able to stop him from saying them, is a telling story of what a nightmare he would be if Republicans win the White House. The most bizarre moment of Paul Ryan’s speech came when he spoke about a social responsibility of the strong to help the weak. Paul Ryan, a devout follower of Ayn Rand’s teaching, so much so that he requires his interns to read her books, a man who could have the song America from West Side story “Life is all right in America, If you’re a white in America” as his motto for life, was talking about helping the needy. Comedy at its best.

But comedy aside, by far the most interesting and most effective speech of the week, no matter the politics, came from Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State under President Bush.

It is hard to pick and choose which lines of her speech were better than others because the speech was an inspired piece of oratory. One might, as I do, discard parts of the speech in which she declared Romney and Ryan as the best candidates to bring the US back into the driver’s seat. Taking that sentiment out, the entire speech was a brilliant overview of the problems and promises of the US.

Nation’s dissatisfaction on the US global standing was echoed in her speech:

‘My fellow Americans, we do not have a choice. We cannot be reluctant to lead, and one cannot lead from behind.’ She spoke of foreign policy, of education, of social values and gave possibly the best description of what America as a nation stands for, and why so many other nations are not able to live up to it.

‘Ours has never been a narrative of grievance and entitlement. We have not believed that I am doing poorly because you are doing well. We have not been envious of one another and jealous of each other’s success. Ours has been a belief in opportunity and a constant battle – long and hard — to extend the benefits of the American dream to all – without regard to circumstances of birth.’ It wasn’t Shakespeare’s ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears;’ but it was remarkably close.

Thus ends the short review of the RNC entertainment portion. Next week-the Democratic Convention review.