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Starlight and Shadows

By       Message Anthony Barnes     Permalink
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The Shining - The synthetic glow of a dark convention

The line: "Go ahead, make my day," from the 1983 movie Sudden Impact is probably   Clint Eastwood's most famous line and perhaps joins   "Frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn," as one of the most familiar utterances in cinematic history.  

But it might not his most chilling.   I think Clint delivered a much icier and far more Bernie Goetz-like come on during the scene in 1971's Dirty Harry when his character, Det. Harry Callahan cocks his colossal 44 mag. point blank at a chancy thug's mug and asks: "Do you feel lucky, punk?"    

For many reasons -- some related to recent events occurring in both Tampa, Florida, and Charlotte, North Carolina -- there are a lot of Republicans right now who might answer that question with a reverberating, "no."   

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That aside, in the wake of all that could be absorbed nearly a month after taking in both Republican and Democratic Parties' National Conventions in front of a television set, the question remains:   Since President Obama had to show his birth certificate shouldn't his Republican challengers be required to take random field polygraphs because of claims they've made during the campaign?

Actually, the Tourette's-like compulsion imbuing the falsehoods about the Obama Administration that raged in Tampa -- a welfare check in every pot; millions in Medicare budget cuts; a nation that's a larger economic basket case than four years ago; and Tampa's marquee misnomer:   "YOU DIDN'T BUILD THAT!" -- scarcely reflect the extremes of the contrast between the two conventions.   Charlotte paid reverence to substance, enthusiasm, and inclusion while Tampa seemed a dour, off-putting charade; an infomercial peddling little more than the politics of dark delusion.   Such differences laid bare the clear demarcation line between starlight and shadows.

Smelly ghosts

In hindsight, Tampa seemed engulfed by a certain kind of darkness that often surrounds closed-minded people -- a darkness ironically deepened via the visitation upon "God's Party" of Hurricane Isaac, an act of God that may be unfathomable to those God-fearing Repubicans who feel they know all there is about the mysterious ways in which The Lord works.

Yet, while Tampa was damper, Charlotte -- also impacted by inclement weather -- was nonetheless vastly more kinetic; awash in a giddy glow of positive energy generated by an enlightened gathering of Americans who while infinitely more open-minded are far less extreme.

Unsurprisingly, the vision of America projected from Tampa seemed both Rockwellian and Orwellian.   It depicted a yearning for a nation that pursues a narrowly diverse American Gothic -like societal mode and a no-government ethos impacting virtually every aspect of American life -- except the womb.   That's where Orwell kicks in.   Many who blew into Tampa are apparently fine with the idea of a woman's womb being subject to the subversiveness of Big Brother "in order to protect the unborn."

But while Tampa gave the GOP the widest possible venue from which to display its pro-life culture, it was in reality haunted by the smelly ghosts of its own dead political past in the forms of George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, and with a hurricane looming, former FEMA Director Michael Brown.   Throw in the underlying stench created by Missouri Rep. Todd Akin , and the end result was the predictable display of illusion, distortions, and deception typical of GOP activism.

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In Tampa, the goal to deceive was obvious; all in hopes of making the Party seem, "normal."   As such, suppressed or sequestered from major public view were many of the scariest of the GOP's bogey men and women.   That meant suspected wiccans, creepy pizza guys, birther dudes with "Trumped" up comb-overs and former vice-Presidential candidates gone wild -- oops, I meant gone rogue --   were essentially persona non-grata.

In addition, attention seemed directed away from a surprising number of standard conservative causes.   Matters like national security; gun control; traditional marriage; eliminating Planned Parenthood; and overblown "support our troops" staunchness by chicken-hawks -- Romney included -- were kept thoroughly on the low.   Even anti-immigration language -- and thankfully, pink prison-wear fetishist , Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio -- were nowhere to be heard; at least during prime time.   In fact, in a truly ballsy como se dice, "hypocrisy" en espanol? moment, the speech by Romney's son Craig -- whom I understand hung out for a few months in Chile a while back -- was delivered in; you guessed it, Spanish!    

Indeed perhaps nowhere was a better job of deception culled than in the area of "minority affairs" indicated by the showy multitude of pseudo Latinos such as Marco Rubio and Craig Romney , and neo-Negroes like Mia Love and Artur Davis .    Tampa's temporary diversity drive also extended to the convention floor which -- on Day One at least -- included auspiciously-placed contingents of rank and file conventioneers of color.     From this perspective, it proved a remarkable example of expedient human trafficking on the part of the GOP; something   likely lifted from the Jerry Springer playbook whereby you solicit the kind of live props needed to make a point and jet "em in VIP style.   Then, once the show's over, they are herded out to the back parking lot onto a school bus pointed in the precise direction of whatever barrio, province, hamlet, hinterland, or hood from which they were recruited and sent home, possibly under police escort.

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Anthony Barnes, of Boston, Massachusetts, is a free-lance writer who leans toward the progressive end of the political spectrum. "When I was a young man, I wanted to change the world. I found it was difficult to change the world, so I tried to (more...)

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