The Democrats excel at bathos. Their quadrennial conventions have become exercises in bathos, superbly well done. In one of his letters, Saul Bellow’s Herzog explains Eisenhower’s victory over Stevenson with the proposition that “the general gave us low-grade universal potato love.” The bathetic stories on display at the convention provide the objective correlative to “low-grade universal potato love.”
The bathos facilitates populist rhetoric and socialist economics. In his remarks last night, Teddy Kennedy made a powerful appeal on behalf of Obama to a “a newer world,” though he and his party are offering nothing failed nostrums or failure itself. And seeking to inject poetry into the politics, Kennedy gives us doggerel.
Michelle Obama, on the other hand, was assigned the task of refashioning the poetry of Barack Obama’s life to more understandable prose. Her speech all but shouted: We are normal! We are like you! Yet Mrs. Obama too sought to inject a little of the “newer world” poetry into the prose:
All of us driven by a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do â€” that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be.
That is the thread that connects our hearts. That is the thread that runs through my journey and Barack’s journey and so many other improbable journeys that have brought us here tonight, where the current of history meets this new tide of hope.
That is why I love this country.
What is Mrs. Obama saying? Why does she love our country? Is it because of a simple belief that the world as it is just won’t do? That makes no sense at all. Is it because of a simple belief that we have an obligation to fight for the world as it should be? That makes no sense either.
Or is it because “improable journeys” have brought Senator and Mrs. Obama to their place at the convention — where the current of history meets the new tide of hope — that Mrs. Obama loves our country? Despite the refconstruction and concealment in her speech, Mrs. Obama has apparently found a slightly higher toned way of explaining why, as she said in Milwaukee earlier this year, she is “really proud of [our] country for the first time in [her] adult lifetime.”
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