You remember an insane Jack Nicholson chasing his wife and son through a snowy maze in The Shining? Or that helicopter scene in Apocalypse Now when Robert Duvall says “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”? What we’re witnessing now in the final throes of the U.S. presidential campaign is sort of like that.
We have Nate Silver on his FiveThirtyEight blog increasing President Barack Obama’s chances of being re-elected to almost 81 per cent – likely leading every right-winger to snicker scornfully. But as Silver persuasively points out, this does not mean that his reelection is a lock (after all, he’s a statistician, not a magician)… only that the numbers point to it. Alright, that’s not a sign of insanity on the level of my initial comparisons. It’s merely an observation that 81 per cent is a pretty brazen number.
But here’s the craziness, the circus, if you will. We have Vice President Joe Biden presenting a Top 10 list on the Late Show with David Letterman (his best argument for voting early: It’s vastly more effective than voting late). There’s also Rush Limbaugh who now apparently would like to spit New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in the face for working so well with Obama after Hurricane Sandy. After all, how dare he compliment the federal government for doing such a good job helping a state that’s been whipped badly by a natural disaster?
And then there’s Clint Eastwood being interviewed by Sean Hannity on Fox News. It’s an interesting talk between them, a host who panders to the far right of the GOP and a guest who’s really a moderate. Eastwood explains why he’s disappointed in Obama and successfully tells Hannity and his knuckledragging audience why Joe McCarthy and his disgraceful Communist hearings still play a huge part in the reason why Hollywood is liberal (although that is not the whole truth; the artistic community is curious and creative, which are rare traits in conservatives). He does a pretty good job in favor of Governor Mitt Romney… but he’d have more credibility if he’d choose to appear on shows less toxic than Hannity’s.
It’s all a mixture of showbiz, desperation and political calculation. Getting silly with Letterman is one way of reaching voters. Complaining about a president and a governor doing what they’re supposed to be doing after a disaster can also be perceived as a way of connecting with one’s (demented) base. Trying to defend one’s liberal friends against the hatred spewed by the likes of Sean Hannity may be a foolish attempt at appealing to a wider audience. They’re all signs of an election cycle reaching its zenith, the moment where it gets as crazy as it’s going to be. But, wait, the circus gets even better.
Radio is a fascinating medium, isn’t it? It has Rush Limbaugh, which is hysterical enough. But it also has Bryan Fischer and Michelangelo Signorile. The first one is a so-called Christian radio host who is predicting that if Romney is elected president “there will be blood” because a lot of people who depend on Obama handing out “lollipops” (non-whites, huh, Bryan?) will engage in “civil unrest” because they feel they’re “entitled to it”. Funny, cause that’s not going to happen. Expect “civil unrest” though, if Obama is re-elected – within the GOP. As for Signorile, that clip has him telling a (very) uninformed gay voter that suicide would be better for him rather than the slow death that he’s optioned for with his vote for Romney.
It’s all harsh and offensive, but probably depending on which candidate you favor. The circus is pretty intense now – and entertaining on some sick reality TV level.