By Chez Pazeinza: My mother has this thing where she refuses to watch violent R-rated movies. No matter how brilliant a film is -- how well it was reviewed, how many awards it's won, how seminal it may be -- if there's even a fair amount of bloodshed in it, chances are she won't go anywhere near it. When asked why she willingly cuts herself off from dozens upon dozens of excellent films just because of a little violence, she always comes back with the same basic answer: "Why would I want to subject myself to something that will only upset and disgust me?" This is pretty much what I've been thinking over the past few nights, the reason I haven't really watched any of the Republican National Convention at length: Why would I want to subject myself to something I already know will only upset and disgust me? Maybe I'm shirking my obligation to be both a responsible voter and an informed online commentator, but, well, tough -- I've never been a big fan of migraines and if I wanted to simply piss myself off for no good reason, I'd call my ex-wife.
What I have done, though, is gone back and watched the pertinent speeches -- minus the unnecessary pontificating from the various pundits and the overabundance of interstitial floor interviews with giddy white people in stupid hats -- so that I know what was said and how it plays against what we've seen up until now from the GOP. So, yes, I saw that Chris Christie was predictably combative and self-promoting, Ann Romney was personable but comically lacking in an awareness of how little she knows about the struggles of ordinary people, Paul Ryan lied in a manner so breathtakingly audacious that it almost defies description, and Romney was -- Romney -- a guy apparently campaigning to be sent back in time by Skynet to untie John Kennedy's sweater from around his neck at exactly the right moment and in doing so eventually prevent the 60s. Romney looks like he was already inducted into Disney's "Hall of Presidents" and somehow escaped and, as much as I hate to mix metaphors, the climax of the convention felt like the staircase-descending coming-out of the most uninteresting and least fuckable debutante in American history.
Oh, and as for Clint -- well, yeah, there was that.
Now that it's all over, there are a couple of things really worth pointing out overall and one possible prediction for next week in Charlotte. In addition to the fact that almost no one was able to say anything truly positive or revelatory about Mitt Romney other than a couple of flaccid, "Yeah, he's great"s and a hearty "he's better than Obama," the most memorable thing about this convention, besides an 82-year-old Hollywood icon talking to an empty chair for 13-minutes, will be the level of shameless mendacity on display. The entire thing was built on a faulty premise -- a flat-out lie. That "We Built This!" crap was of course taken from a severely edited quote from Barack Obama that the Romney people spun into a full-fledged campaign meme and, ultimately, a battle cry -- and it all went downhill from there, with Paul Ryan especially unleashing so much unadulterated horseshit that it seems as if his goal was to overwhelm fact-checkers to the point where they couldn't keep up and therefore would decide to just quit and go get a drink. What's interesting, though, was the mainstream media's reaction to the Ryan freight train of lies: for the most part, the press actually called him out on it, which is shocking considering its usual reticence to hammer any political party for fear of appearing biased and, in particular, to take on the GOP out of some hope of salving its perpetually aggravated sense of victimization at the hands of the supposed liberal media juggernaut.
News outlet after news outlet, including Fox News, either sternly or with kid gloves, pointed out the myriad fallacies in Ryan's public pitch to America. Ryan's nonsense was so flagrant and shameless -- it was presented with such reckless disregard for anything approaching reality -- that really the press had no choice but to get out of its comfy Barcalounger right in the middle of the two political sides and say something. It almost goes without saying that the overall conservative media response to the onslaught of fact-based reporting and criticism was to stand behind Ryan in a show of solidarity and defiance, with at least one online publication -- champion bullshit artist Breitbart's, of course -- proudly declaring that "The Era of Media Fact-Checkers Intimidating Republicans Is Over." Yeah! We won't bullied by those journalists and their -- their FACTS. As if the GOP has given ever given a shit what an adversarial reporter or columnist thinks.
The question now, though, going into Charlotte is whether the media will feel as if they've set some sort of precedent by pounding Ryan, and really the entire Romney bullshit machine, so hard. Cesca and I talked about this on this week's podcast, but there's a good chance that what we'll see next week is a press that feels as if it's now obligated -- because it always has to maintain that all-important illusion of objectivity, regardless of the facts at hand -- to hit the Obama campaign with the same kind of criticism it leveled against Romney-Ryan. Whether Obama, Biden and their surrogates will lie as often and with as much audacity as their GOP counterparts, who knows -- although I'm betting not only because it would take a near sociopathic personality disorder to be able to pull off the act Ryan did -- but the press will very likely be looking extra hard for any instance of fact-fudging or outsized political spin so that they can loudly call it out, whether it's deserved or not -- then everything can return to normal and the seat of that comfy Barcalounger can remain perfectly in the shape of their collective ass.
I guess we'll have to see. The Dems are up next. I think we can assume that overall Charlotte won't be as listless, uninspired and, thanks to Clint, surreal as the show we saw in Tampa. But really who the hell knows at this point? Chances are I won't be glued to my TV watching every minute of it anyway.