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One of the things I have been trying to do this summer is to find out how to get my younger son–turned 18 this winter–registered to vote.

This is not as simple as it sounds, because Greg was born in London, and because he doesn’t have a driver’s license.  The driver’s license thing I thought was just the problem of being blind for half a year, but now it turns out that he doesn’t want one.  My older son doesn’t have one either, and Bill never did.

Now, what is not a problem, right here, is Greg’s status as a United States citizen.  A child born abroad of a US citizen is himself automatically a US citizen.

That was how the Embassy explained it to us when I was pregnant with Greg, and about a week after he was born I brought his British birth certificate and some other paperwork to Grosvenor Square and Greg got a concilar birth certificate attesting to his status as a US citizen and a US passport to boot.

Think about that for a minute.

The child of a US citizen born abroad is automatically a US citizen.

And Obama’s mother was…what, exactly?

Actually, I know the answer to that riddle.  For a while, US policy was that a child born to a US father abroad was a citizen, but not a child born to a mother. 

The other thing the US Embassy told me was that the SCOTUS had taken care of that.  Which would mean that even if Obama WAS born in Kenya, or the Philipines, or wherever, his mother’s status as a US citizen should legally have made him one.

But I really didn’t intend to write this post about the birthers. 

I’ve got all Greg’s documents together, and his social security card, and we should be able to get him registered well in time for the election. 

But because I’ve been trying to get him registered, I’ve been paying more attention to this stage of the Presidential election than I usually do.

And maybe that’s the only necessary answer.  Maybe I just don’t usually pay attention this early in the cycle.

But I’m paying attention now, and the whole thing seems to me to be…completely unreal.

I don’t mean unreal as in crazy, or surreal, or psychodelic.

I mean unreal as if it weren’t actually happening.

The whole thing just seems–superfluous.  As if nothing was going on, in spite of all the yelling and screaming. 

And I’m not sure why that is. 

Part of it may be that I’ve never taken Romney seriously as a candidate.  He is, it seems to me, the apotheosis of establishment Republicanism, but an apotheosis as abstraction.  There’s no there there, as Gertrude Stein said about something else.

If Romney has convictions–about anything–I haven’t seen it.  It was why I always thought the Republicans should have gone with Santorum.  You may like what he has to say or hate it, but the man has convictions and he sticks to them, even if it means losing primaries and elections.

He is also, I think, what the core of the contemporary Republican Party actually wants.  Because what the Tea Party is, first and foremost, is a protest against exactly what Romney is, no matter on which side of the aisle–the slick, the “sophisticatedly educated,” the guys who give bailouts to their friends who run the banks.

So, for better or worse, I never thought Romney could win the election.  I still don’t.  So the contest seems less than compelling even without the eerie feeling that it just isn’t there.

But part of it is just that everything feels like white noise.  And that’s true even when there’s a real story, rather than another round of they’re lying! no, they’re lying! no, they’re lying! in the plitical ads.

The Todd Akin thing is a case in point.  God only knows, the man is a complete and irredeemable idiot.  And it’s kind of fun to watch Ann Coulter trying to get him chucked out of his race by the sheer power of her own will.  She’s got one hell of a will, too.  She just might manage it.

But unforgivably vile as the thing he said were, the whole episode just feels scripted. Everybody is saying what you’d expect them to say.  The outrage sounds–as most outrage does these days–fake.

Too much of what happens here these days, politically, seems like an attempt to evade reality.

Rather than actually compete, on ideas or even on personalities, what we have is a series of Outrage Moments.  Obama said that if you have a business, you didn’t build it  yourself!  The Republicans are trying to deny women access to birth control!

Neither of these things is, or ever was, true.  Obama’s “you didn’t build that” obviously was meant to refer to things like roads and bridges, not your company.  And refusing to pay for your choices is not the same thing as denying you the right or the ability to make them. 

But that’s what we were yelling about before Todd Akin came along.  And although Akin really did say something that was substantively objectionable, the outrage sounds the same as it did when the bases for it were far less solid.

Greg, in the meantime, is taking this, his first Presidential election, every personally.

Don’t ask him what he thinks, or you’ll be nailed to your seat for hours.


Written by janeh

August 23rd, 2012 at 6:48 am

Posted in Uncategorized

4 Responses to 'Unreal'

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  1. I confess I haven’t been paying much attention to the US presidential election. It goes on for so long, and seems to employ more wailing and knashing of teeth than actual discussion of ideas.

    Akin’s statement did happen to reach my ears, and all I thought was ‘What an idiot!’ Because I interpreted ‘legitimate’ as ‘real’, that is, as ‘really happened, not a false accusation’ and the rest of it as one of the sillier ideas I’ve heard on human reproduction since I had high school students saying that they’d heard you couldn’t get pregnant if you ‘did it’ standing up, was that true? Or that you wouldn’t if you used Coke as a douche afterwards.

    Save the ‘get him out of public life’ outrage for those who actually commit crimes while in office. Leave the idiots for their constituents to deal with.

    And good luck with the bureaucracy. I’m trying to sort out something else with a US business for a relative, and am getting somewhat irritated by all the paperwork, much of which has to pass through the nearest US consulate, at a fee, of course….I know, I know, they need to avoid fraud.


    23 Aug 12 at 8:29 am

  2. This election cycle has that same sense of eerie unreality that you feel as you watch an auto accident take place in front of you. Everything slows down, you scream “NO NO NO” in your head, and you’re frozen in place.

    I personally just can’t believe that each and every person participating seems to have descended into abject moronic stupidity (or is that cupidity) at the same time. Nobody is listening, except to get ammunition for the next blast. NOBODY is telling the truth, and it has become nearly impossible to determine what the objective truth is of any statement.

    Is this a budget cut? A tax cut? Neither? Both? Is it actually a tax INCREASE? and what did X, Y or Z say about this very same thing six months ago? Who can keep track. It seems certain nobody wants an informed electorate. What they want seems to be confused voters, and boy are they getting them.

    In the meantime, my dad and his wife who live in Florida seem to think Romney/Ryan are the greatest thing since sliced toast and I just cringe every time I see a post from them. Gah. People wonder how women can vote for the Misogynist Party, well, there ya go. In my own family. I’m so ashamed.


    23 Aug 12 at 4:13 pm

  3. I’d have said “perfunctory” but I’d have meant about the same thing. It feels as though everyone’s going through the motions. And I have a terrible feeling the one who loses in November–very probably Romney–is going to be the lucky one.

    Romney. I backed everyone else until there was no one left but Obama. That far I won’t go again. I agree, if Romney has a political belief, I don’t know what it is. But I’m pretty sure Obama is a believer, and his beliefs scare me sily. Romney and Ryan, as a Mormon and a Catholic, always knew their professors had gotten at least one important thing wrong. I listen to Obama, and if anyone ever drank the academic left’s Kool-aid, he’s the one.

    Speaking of which: while you’re right in general about fake outrage, I’ve read Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech. I agree he probably MEANT something other than the businesses themselves–He seems to have been trying to rip off the Elizabeth Warren speech–but it’s most certainly what he SAID. The speech as given would have gotten the man tossed from a high school debate team. Well, I don’t vote for a presidential candidate because I’m looking forward to great speeches. But could we at least put a lid on all this talk of Obama the silver-tongued orator after that one?

    No more politics for a while, please: I find it a deeply depressing topic.


    23 Aug 12 at 7:15 pm

  4. I don’t live in the US, don’t pay taxes in the US, and don’t vote in the US. I have taken a solemn vow to ignore the whole election. I just glance at headlines.

    But I agree with Robert, the loser will be the lucky one.

    Robert, I remember a science fiction short story with the premise that psychological testing had reached the point of being reliable. All candidates for president had to be tested and anyone who REALLY wanted the job was automatically disqualified.


    23 Aug 12 at 7:49 pm

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