Friday, September 5, 2008

Triumph of the Shrill

In the 1930s Leni Riefenstahl became the filmaker tapped to document the political rise of Adolf Hitler. Tremendously talented, she crafted an image in her Triumph of the Will for the new leader that distracted Germans from his bizarre beliefs and buffoonery and manufactured a vision of a powerful, wise, all knowing savior. Joseph Goebbels masterminded this image production and helped by staging spectacles. The larger the stadium, the more attendees, the more references to German and classical history and culture, the better Hitler could appear. In other words Goebbels and Riefenstahl sought to clothe the inadequacies of a lunatic in the robes of a demigod.

The 2008 Democratic Convention is no Nazi spectacle and Obama is no Hitler. This attempt at savior manufacturing looks more like a Mel Brooks parody of Riefenstahl's work. You half expect to see "PREZ" emblazoned in white on Obama's back. The goal is to unite the loud, neurotic, Bush haters with moderate and loyal Democrats in a last ditch effort to derail the McCain train.

Fortunately, Americans rarely accept this kind of stage handling in their politics. Anything so packaged raises suspicion in the eyes of most American voters. Only George Washington and, to a much lesser extent, Franklin Roosevelt ever enjoyed demigod type popularity and loyalty. Washington actively shunned any material manifestation of his authority, preferring to maintain tones of republican simplicity.

In 2008 the choice is clear. In McCain we have an accomplished man who acts in Washington's mold of republican simplicity. In Obama we have a demagogue seeking to win the presidency through the triumph of the shrill.

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