What a bunch of dorks! I say that in full knowledge that I’m a dork myself and this is a case of the pot calling the kettle black. But I mean it in the most loving way. The American public, for all its foibles and shortcomings, elects a lot of truly unattractive, ungainly, awkward, fashion-impaired people to the national legislature. This is a good thing. It means that in this age of expensive television advertising during every campaign cycle, when cynical pundits pontificate about how easy it is to manipulate public opinion and the extent to which we vote for the taller and better-looking candidate, people vote for content over form. I find that heartening.
I also find heartening the fact that biology was on display last night.
- The camera was on Secretary of Homeland Security Michael Chertoff at one point when the President (yes, I still capitalize it; sue me) used the word homeland in his speech. Chertoff, who had a serious and attentive expression on his face and ramrod-straight posture, reflexively jerked his head the instant the word was uttered.
- You know, I’m sure, of the classic demonstration of peer group pressure. Four people get into an elevator. Three of them, the experimenter’s confederates, turn to face the back of the car. The fourth, the experimental subject, turns around too. Last night, when the President introduced people in the gallery—modest, humble people—they stood there clapping wildly for themselves, simply because everyone else in the room was clapping.