Friday, September 03, 2004

Dumb Show 

We managed to listen to a brief stretch of the middle portion of the president's speech last night before we were altogether debilitated by the skull-shaking Cronenbergian brain-jitters that typically beset us when we hear a baldfaced lie met by a standing ovation three times in a single minute. (At that point the royal physicians thought it best to change channels, and we readily agreed, having already paid Mr. Murdoch, that genius of counterprogramming, for the Jenna Jameson marathon running concurrently on Spicy Spice.)

Many of our friends, we learn today, suffered similar episodes -- but not the intrepid James Wolcott, author of Attack Poodles and a smarter man than we, who inoculated his brain against the onset of fib-induced dementia by the brilliant expedient of watching Mr. Bush with the sound off, concentrating, as some aphasics do, on the speaker's body language and facial expressions. We are pleased to report that he managed, by this device, to view the entirety of the broadcast without his head exploding, and that the observations he was thus able to make were in fact quite illuminating:
My clinical evaluation. I don't know if Bush is going to lose the election. But I think he thinks he's going to lose. His eyes were lifeless, devoid of spark. His smiles were forced, his expressions of gratitude for the audience applause more of a mechanical pause than a transference of energy from him to the crowd and back again. When the camera cut to the audience they were doing their orchestrated bit, holding up those dopey signs, but there wasn't the ebullience you saw among the Democrats. Bush seemed to know this speech simply didn't have it, and he didn't have it in him to put it over.

The when it was over the family trooped out. More fascinating repressed psychodrama it would be harder to imagine. The Bush twins came out and embraced their dad, but it was an affectionless embrace, like those brief pats the American girl gymnasts gave each other after one of them after a routine, and immediately broken. Was he upset with their ditzy embarrassing performance?--there was none of the warmth and giddiness one saw with the Kerry and Edwards clans. His hugs of his father and mother were equally perfunctory. Everyone looked ill at ease, and yet when I tuned to PBS and switched on the sound they were blathering about the confetti and the balloon drop, ignoring the stilted pageant below.

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