Thomas Frank on how forgettable it all was

On his way to discussing all of the potential possibilities of Barack Obama’s second term, Thomas Frank, writing for Harper’s, describes how the 2012 presidential election was so eminently…well…forgettable…

On the Republican primary candidates:

Do you even remember their names, reader? Let each roll off your tongue, and savor the receding memories. There was Newt Gingrich — the bitter, familiar one. Michele Bachmann — the confused, panicked one. Rick Perry — hair. Ron Paul — Constitution. Herman Cain — pizza. Rick Santorum — coal-mining grandfather, sweater-vest. Mitt Romney — hair, Olympics.

On the repetitious tendencies of history:

The battle now joined, the mighty rivals fought over the same swing states as last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. They rallied the same constituent groups. They slagged one another with the same stereotypes used in every election since 1968. They fielded the customary armies of strategists and fund-raisers and communications directors and doorbell ringers.

On the unscrupulous behavior of the press:

The advances and retreats of this army were then followed by a second expeditionary force — an International Brigade of journalists who jammed the campaign jets, begged for a comment, clustered around the Hamilton County Board of Elections office in Ohio, and ultimately assumed the starring role themselves, pinching and poking and waving at their touch-activated, data-dredging Magic Walls.

On the respective campaigns’ word’s for the future, and the possibilities therefore:

And then it was over. Once the numbers were in, both winner and loser spoke sagely about bipartisan togetherness. Every pundit worth his blue blazer interpreted the results in the same, time-honored manner: as a victory for centrism. Both parties, they declared, had work to do. Republicans needed to move to the center in order to court the Latinos, the young, the single mothers. Democrats needed to move to the center simply to appease their pouting opponents. No, wait: Democrats had already moved to the center, and this election vindicated their wisdom.

And on the Max Weber (“Politics is a strong and slow boring of hard boards,”)-ish nature of the beast:

In other words, we were back where we had started. Like some kind of electoral Battle of Verdun, this costly triumph had shifted the front lines only slightly. House, Senate, and Oval Office all stayed in the same hands. All those commercials, debates, rallies, speeches, books, profiles, and columns had no more changed the world than a season’s worth of Major League baseball or a feud between American Idol judges.

An article well worth reading, if you’re so inclined. For some reason makes me hum a song…

Hey, put your little hand in mine, they ain’t no hill or mountain we can’t climb…”


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