Political Spectacle

My inclination this morning was to talk about something other than last night’s Republican debate and the second rate nature of the candidates who showed up. It’s so easy these days, during the latter days of empire and covering its politics—whether you’re a famed journalist, or an obscure blogger—to simply talk about you-know-who, the presidential candidate in the room who garners all the attention, even when he decides to take his ball with him and not show up. I decided to go with the latter. I’m not proud about it, either.

After working last night at a part-time job I picked up in December, I got home after 9:00 and flicked on the television. Like millions of other Americans, I was intrigued to know how the debate was going without the star of this year’s presidential horse race. Also, I wanted to see how things were going wherever Mr. Trump took his ball, and went off to play with it.

On what was originally intended to be the evening’s big political event when it originally was scheduled by Fox News, Donald Trump again turned this year’s election protocol and rules upside-down. His fans loved it, as they always do, irrespective of what Mr. Trump says and does.

"Please vote for me!!"

“Please vote for me!!” (Doug Mills photo/New York Times)

I spent about 10 minutes watching the night’s second card, originally slated to be the main event. I tuned in just in time to hear a guy that supposedly was the governor of Oho offer up a host of lackluster reasons why I should be voting for him. Then, some other guy, a senator who doesn’t think showing up to vote is all that important—yet wants me to pick him to run the country—offered up his warmed-over can of corned beef hash on immigration.

Then, Mr. Lack-of-Energy, moved his lips and some sound came out. That was it—off I went to find The Donald.

He was over on MSNBC, talking at Drake University about our veterans and bringing up some guy and his wife. I didn’t know who they were. Trump told me that his claim to fame was touching things and turning them into gold. I guess he tried to give Trump a million dollars, but the billionaire sent it back—the one thing he doesn’t need right now is more money.

Then, Rachel Maddow, who had been live streaming Trump, said “goodbye,” and laughed about how great it felt to say “disappear” to Trump, segueing into the theme she picked for last night’s Rachel Maddow Show—how Trump wasn’t really that cool about his military service and was hiding behind shadow veterans groups like Veterans for a Strong America.

Donald Trump is great for ratings.

Donald Trump is great for ratings.

Maddow spent her broadcast, I guess (I’d had enough and went over to NBA TV for the rest of my late night dinner) to hammer Trump about how he is exploiting veterans and veterans’ causes to cover his own military record. And yes, Trump managed to get a deferment and missed going to Vietnam—imagine that!!

If anyone cares about that period of Trump’s life, there’s a biography that details how Trump considers his time at a military academy the equivalent of what the less fortunate sons ended up doing—trudging through swamps and jungles as a soldier in Vietnam. This article from the New York Times back in September offers details.

So what does all this mean?

Guy Debord wrote about the “Society of the Spectacle.” Basically, Debord, a French Marxist theorist traced how authentic social life had been replaced with its representation: “All that once was directly lived has become mere representation.” Sort of like reality Tee Vee.

This morning, Debord’s take is as good an explanation as I can come up with at the moment for what we’re living through, at least when it comes to our presidential politics.

2 thoughts on “Political Spectacle

  1. Hi Jim, It is all cringeworthy. It seems easier for some people to misrepresent and lie rather than be truthful…to have lost short-term and long-term memory and to believe what they have manufactured in their own minds …and then when they are called on it they deny it or act like you have gone crazy….sometimes one wonders if they are losing it…themselves. It is a bizarre world we live in now….and I must say technology, which I am using right now, so what does that say about me….just adds to the mess. So whenever we can we must try to “directly live” no matter what.

  2. Let’s see, a “women can do anything men can do” feminist talking head wants to criticize a man, any man, for not being killed or maimed in some war somewhere to protect her sense of entitlement.

    Someone should ask her about her deferment, the one she got for being born with the female reproductive kit instead of the male one.

    If I had turned on the Running of the Geldings, I would have turned away even more quickly than you–that background is repulsive.

    It’s always been spectacle in America, though. One need only read Mencken, for example, to be reminded of that.

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