Wednesday, July 8, 2009


Suspension of disbelief is a term I associate mostly with going to the movies. Recently I watched Mall Cop, which was funny for the slapstick, but it required a huge serving of suspended disbelief. It has been occurring to me lately that I am employing a good measure of suspension of disbelief to political theater lately. Having been very happy to see Mr. Obama get elected, a process that was excessively theatrical, I find myself watching what is going on with a nagging awareness that I am cutting him a lot of slack. His words are good. I like what he is saying and the way he is conducting himself, and I am willing to put the puzzling facts about what is going on over to the side. When Bush was president I use to marvel at how his supporters could remain so enthusiastic about him despite what were, to me, the most obvious and egregious discrepancies between what he was suppose to be and what he was. We have, I suspect, with respect to movies, been conditioned to suspend disbelief and watch the show. It’s more fun that way. And I imagine political theater is likewise conditioning us. The political people, like the movie people, set the stage, create the lighting and the atmosphere, and we buy the ticket and allow ourselves to be entranced. When the event is over we may scratch our heads and think, “wait a minute, that didn’t really make sense.” “How much of what just occurred was smoke and mirrors?” But we like the show so we don’t dwell on it too much. People in Afghanistan and Pakistan who are being threatened, some killed, by unmanned drone planes firing bombs at them may not be experiencing the same willingness to suspend disbelief that I am. People that are currently having their lives destroyed because they are sick and uninsured, or under insured, may have a different level of willingness to just enjoy the show. I am not above the occasional guilty pleasure of unabashed support, but I also see the folly of not being real when the consequences transcend the theatrical event.

2 comments:

John Hayes said...

Sadly, it is necessary (I think) to view politics as a form of theater. That said, there are policy decisions made & we have to hope they are made in the public's interest. In the case of wars, there is (among other contributing factors) the military-industrial complex (so named by the noted bleeding heart liberal Dwight David Eisenhower, who warned of its influence); in terms of health care, the mega bucks insurance industry. These are humungous obstacles to overcome. Still, I am happy to have a president who is well-spoken & who carries himself well & is I believe statesman-like. It's been a long time.

Linda Pendleton said...

Obama is facing the same Congress that often has not had our best interests in mind. The huge companies still seem to have their control over issues and probably politicians in their back pocket. I knew we did not hand Obama a magic wand with our votes to make it all better, but I am still pleased with him as our President. I think he has brought back respect and good standing in the world, to and for the office.