Boob Tube: First Ladies of American Politics
I don’t usually use this column to talk about politics, but the cool thing about having a (semi) functional brain and a (fully) functional computer is that I can use those things to do almost anything at all.
In the last few weeks, I used them to watch YouTube videos of all the Republican National Convention and Democratic National Convention speeches. If I didn’t work in the evenings, I would have been watching the speeches on television. And THAT is how this column about politics relates to my usual television theme. Pretty sneaky, huh? (Not at all.).
Those convention speeches gave us all plenty to talk about. There was Paul Ryan playing hooky from the truth, Clint Eastwood’s enthusiastic conversation with an empty chair, and Bill Clinton outshining everyone at both conventions by… wait for it… talking about actual policies and backing up his opinions with facts.
Since this IS Boob Tube, though, I want to talk about the women of the convention. Specifically, I want to talk about the speeches made by First Lady Michelle Obama and First Lady-hopeful Ann Romney.
The spouses of the candidates have an interesting role at the convention. It is not their job to talk policy or even to talk smack about their opponents. It is their job to make themselves and their husbands seem genuinely likeable to the American public.
Ann Romney’s speech had about four good, convincing minutes. The rest was awkward giggling about Mitt taking her home from a high school dance (Is she really so old and so Mormon she can’t hear how that sounds to the rest of us? Only me?), trying and failing to sound like she relates to the struggles of middle-class Americans in the recession, and weird Oprah-inspired shouting. If you want to catch the good stuff, start watching just before the 16:00 minute mark and tune out again at 20:00.
In the “my family started out with nothing and worked our way up through the American dream”-off that was both conventions, Michelle Obama may have come out the winner (Julian Castro and the frequent camera cuts to his mother gave her a good run for her money, to be sure). Her speech hit all expected points: family values and motherhood; patriotism and the troops; the American dream and hard work, etc, but she is inherently more relatable than Ann, and made a much more natural connection with the audience. She brought the live audience (and me) near to tears several times.
If this is a competition (oh, it is?), I am going to declare Michelle the winner. But that is only because Bill Clinton isn’t a contender as he isn’t quite the spouse of a presidential candidate. Fingers crossed he will be in 2016.