There is a narrative that holds as a standard for American storytelling for television and film, best encapsulated in the half-hour situation comedy format. In it, a crisis is happily resolved by the end of the 24-minute presentation (30 minutes with commercials) and the cast of characters is returned to a blissful state of rest. In fairy tales, the story ends “…and they all lived happily ever after”.
The same arc could be observed last week in the televised U.S. Republican National Convention. Moreover, because so many scriptwriters draw from the same well, you can observe it now in the Democratic convention.
Canadians love American TV and for political junkies, these political conventions make fascinating viewing. Besides, we care.
We here in Canada want to see the U.S. – meaning the U.S. economy – do well. It matters to our own bottom line, so we hope the best for them as they go forward to make this important political decision in November.
At the same time, there is a segment of us that feels just that much more invested in the outcome in the sense that we want to see the first African-American to ascend to the position of U.S. president move even deeper into the history books by being a two-term president.
As such, one of the jarring moments of the Republican convention was listening to the powerful Condoleezza Rice, Secretary of State in the George W. Bush administration; speak in support of her party while, at the same time, try to walk the line of not appearing to be one Black person attacking another.
Rice could have chosen not to speak at the convention at all. But with the Republican Party desperate to show a public face that does not answer the cliché of being a party of “old, White men”, having someone like Rice on stage was considered a must.
Still, a thinking person would have to have been blown away by the hypocrisy of the Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, stating with all the rehearsed sincerity he could muster that he wished Obama had succeeded since that would have meant that America was succeeding.
Talk about begging the question. Romney’s statement is premised on a presumption that Obama has failed. In fact it is America’s race-haters who have failed to show allegiance to their country and countrymen since, rather than focusing on pulling themselves out of a financial crisis, they exacerbated the crisis by focusing on destroying Obama’s presidency, seemingly blind to the collateral effect of further dragging their country under.
Hypocritical, because the Republicans and the Republican-aligned Tea Party continue to do everything in their power to undermine this president at a time when America is facing a deep and seemingly intransigent economic crisis.
Obama hasn’t failed; he has been blocked and stymied with more zeal than even the energies that went into tearing down the last Democratic president, Bill Clinton.
Picture America as a cannibalistic two-headed snake. With the election of Obama, a member of an oppressed and hated minority, the American electorate did something monumental, some would say miraculous. Yet, the other head of the snake immediately set out to devour the former.
That’s why there was no public denouncement by anyone on the stage – meaning Romney himself – after the disgusting incident in which two Republican conventioneers took it upon themselves to throw peanuts at a Black CNN camerawoman.
“This is how we feed animals,” the two conventioneers said.
After the two were ejected from the convention, Republican officials issued the (under)statement: “Two attendees tonight exhibited deplorable behaviour. Their conduct was inexcusable and unacceptable. This kind of behaviour will not be tolerated.”
Remarkably, some would interpret the sickening behaviour not as an act of racism on the convention floor, but reaction to a member of the media, apparently another hated minority.
Try teasing such incidents apart in America’s racially convoluted atmosphere where soaring ambition and optimism meet blind hatred.
On a related note of thoughtless racism…
Had a chance to get over to the CNE just before closing this year. What goes through your mind when you see all over the Midway these stuffed toy prizes: monkeys designed with dreadlocks and topped with the red, gold and green banner, half emerging from bananas? The penguins with similar dreadlocks do not stand as an excuse.