Something About Shakespeare, Something About Kidneys

Ariel and Bernice ride along with Madame Oreille.  (Detail of frame from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, ep. 3)

More often than not, Alexandra Petri is a useful target for recreational ridicule. Still, though, nobody is without their moments. We dig ourselves holes; it sounds silly of me to note that Petri wrote a decent―hell, actually good―article, since I’m quite certain this is well within her capabilites. After all, you don’t reach the Washington Post without some skill.

Once you have the job, that’s when you can sit back and cruise on a vapid pretense of wit.

See what I did, there?

Oh, come on. At least she isn’t Jennifer Rubin.

Right. Petri:

America gets more assurances of unconditional Love and Approval in the course of a single candidate speech than many WASP children get in the course of their entire childhoods, and we turn out okay, although years later we bring this fact up indignantly during Thanksgiving dinner and start sobbing for no reason. My point is: America does not need this.

But the people who run for president, and the people behind them, beg to differ. The people who listen to speeches, they seem to feel, will absolutely wither up and die without hearing how remarkable the American way of life is, and how special the American dream has proved to be. If that does not come up at some point in the speech, paired neatly with fears for Our Children, these fragile listeners will run from the hall in tears and you will lose their votes for good.

Otherwise why do they insist on doing this?

She does move on to Shakespeare and kidney transplants, but her headline, “Rand Paul and Ted Cruz secretly gave the same speech” not only reads well, but proves true.

Then again, I would note an alternative explanation for the phenomenon, but this requires some consideration of history. Those who remember the Cold War should also remember a basic rhetorical dualism: Democrats = liberal = communist = evil and Republicans = conservative = capitalist = good

Just think about it for a moment. It still sort of holds true, even if the Democrats aren’t necessarily liberal and the Republicans aren’t necessarily … er … um … ah … not evil. That is to say, Republicans still show capitalistic vice if we accept votes as a form of currency; profit justifies.

Which means there’s a reason these early candidates are giving industrialized, polymer campaign speeches. It’s an economy of scale for a marketplace in which quality and price are not bases for consumer selection. Rather, they don’t care how it’s made, or what goes into it, as long as they like the flavor and texture. Give them that, and American consumers will buy damn near anything, regardless of how cheap and worthless it is.

And you know, something about doing it with style.


Image note: Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul ride the campaign trail together. Oh, wait. Sorry. That’s Ariel and Bernice, from Darker Than Black: Gemini of the Meteor, epsiode 3, “Vanishing in a Sea of Ice …”. (See what I did, there?)

Petri, Alexandra. “Rand Paul and Ted Cruz secretly gave the same speech”. The Washington Post. 7 April 2015.

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