Thursday, October 4, 2012

I disagree, that the President was diminished by self-control


  Oh, my goodness. I was embarrassed
  last evening, by the quick reactions
  of the enthusiasts, to the effect
  that the manic challenger in the
  evening's Presidential election
  'debate' was more impressive than
  the reserved incumbent. It was never
  so clear to me before, how scribes
  treat our politics as entertainment,
  as if Callas were out of voice (more
  than her style anticipated, that is)
  in a new production of Manon Lescaut.
  That would be regrettable, of course.

It's as if there were no point to drawing reference to the fact, that he is the President, and people do know him. On the 'strength' of his conduct this evening, I'm certain that this still cannot be said of the challenger, an unbecoming anxiety's reinforcements aside. I am confident that anyone who respects his vote, and can distinguish it from a ticket to the sadomasochistic tragedies of Puccini, will have no difficulty in finding the President's unflappable consistency to have been exactly suited to his recitals of what he has done, what he believes, what he expects and what he intends; and that the cascade, not to say blizzard of novations of himself offered by the pretender, are of a piece with his established cynicism.

To anyone who has been watching this Presidency with a fraction of the attention for which our scribes are paid to do it for us, the spectacle of more flailings against this holder of the office will also be utterly of a piece - with the character of his position, in a time of unseemly polarisation. It may well be, given the influence of any concert of reviews, that voters will imbibe the belief that the President fared poorly. But that will mean, that the President fared poorly, as we have seen in his legislative conflicts throughout his term of office. It will not mean that he is electorally impaired.

On the contrary. The challenger's task was far from met, in persuading voters to adopt a selection of him-self, in an etch-resketched profile of remixed posturing and deception, as the justification for an aban-donment of a relationship of endur-ance. This characteristic of the President's plainly earned respect, for his embrace of the nation's ordeal with patience of no compla-cency, endows voters with a feeling of trust which cannot be disturbed by a hectically showy night on the stage with a settled phony. It is easily compatible with resolve to stay the course, to concede that the President may have 'lost' in the kind of show which is of interest only to quar-relers. This is not what he does.

           The professed 'Conservative' commentator,
           George Will, has theorised that the Pres-
           ident may enjoy re-election because of re-
           luctance to compromise what the electorate
           senses as its own racial achievement, in
           his election four years ago. How little
           that philosophy's claim to grasp human na-
           ture has ever been deserved. The resistance
           is that of a historical tide of struggle,
           much deeper than novelty, to be sundered 
           by a shallow phosphorescence in its way.


  1. Always interesting to read your commentary. The superficial view of this shallow phosphorescence spread this way through this morning's radio news.

    1. Vital to read your report and credible that it came from you. Your gaze is one of the more nourishing and tempering guides a comment can have.

  2. You said it. and like gesbi-I always like to hear your read on it-maybe because I agree. thank you

    1. Thank you very much, PGT. It is so easy to be disappointed, where anxiousness runs especially high; but I am amazed by the weight people sound prepared to ascribe to their disappointment in this performance, per se.

  3. While I agree with you, it is always wonderful to have style and substance combined. The President may have ben right on the facts, but was not able to relay those facts in a memorable manner. Great singing demands the same thing. You just can't stand there and make pretty tones. You have to act. You have to create the suspension of disbelief. That's how the game is played. Callas was great because - for a time - she was able to sing beautifully and act. Then it all fell apart.

  4. I loved Callas in Manon Lescaut and her "tones," alone, projected such "acting" that she set an almost prohibitive standard for "combination." Great singing may demand this thing, but I meant to draw a distinction between those demands, and standards for discussions of State, especially if truth and reliability have any place in rhetoric. My argument is not, however, with anything observed in your comment, it is with the conclusion, so broadly 'reported', that the President is diminished by his "performance." This I think is incontinent, even as I concede the fact of that opinion's prevalency.

    Andrew Sullivan, to cite a conspicuous casualty, live-blogged the occasion and proclaimed himself upset in a matter of minutes, for failure to see the forest for the trees. I respect that we are subject to the interventions of these opinions, but I do not believe the people are so enthralled by form. Moreover, I suspect that this "disaster" (Sullivan's gentlest assessment) might have the tonic and entirely appropriate effect of lifting support for the President's candidacy to a more active plane. Anxiousness is not a bad thing, ca October 4th.

    Thank you very much for participating, Daniel, and for provoking this refinement of one's terms.