A political reporter desperately searches for a sign of joy in this year’s presidential race:
I am as cynical as any political reporter. And perhaps my recent craving for uplift was a sublimation of my own anger at being a small cog in a giant inanity machine. But I write and read and talk about politics because beneath that cynicism I understand that the stakes are high. On top of which, oddly, the job also keeps me patriotic, a byproduct of seeing — as I did at a Romney event in Ohio in July — things like a Korean War veteran in a wheelchair removing his insignia cap and struggling to his feet to salute the flag during the national anthem. (Immediately after which, I looked down at my BlackBerry to learn that the Democratic National Committee had just released a new ad ridiculing Ann Romney’s dressage horse.)
But what’s been completely missing this year has been, for lack of a better word, joy. Yes, it’s always kind of fun to follow Joe Biden around and wait to hear what will come out of his mouth next, and who knows what Paul Ryan has hidden under his oversize jacket. But the principals don’t seem to be experiencing much joy as they go through their market-tested paces. A kind of faux-ness permeates everything this year in a way that it hasn’t been quite so consuming in the past. The effect has been anesthetizing and made it difficult to take any of the day’s supposed gaffes, game-changers and false umbrages seriously. The campaigns appeared locked in a paradigm of terrified superpowers’ spending blindly on redundant warfare. How many times do they have to blow up Vladivostok?