Our reliance on the internet might be undermining our people skills, such as hand-eye coordination beyond a mouse and a screen, our ability to think, stare into space, even to procrastinate, but it is still something we can inject with a degree of emotional intelligence. Clicking on an image brings film clips to life that would have played once on the evening news and which we can now order up 24/7. But the retina still dashes visual imagery back to the brain to interpret intent and meaning; of the kind that triggered much giggling, for example, at New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's bug-eyed support for Donald Trump at his rallies, and cringe-reflexes at Mrs. Christie's glancing mortification when Trump taunted Hillary Clinton for playing the woman's card.
So no amount of re-watching US House Speaker Paul D. Ryan can persuade us of his genuine endorsement of Donald Trump. Vacant eyes of veiled dishonesty try to assure us that he has spoken to the man he believes shares his Republican values. There was more belief in George W. Bush's declaration in 2001 that, when looking into the soul of Vladimir Putin, he saw a man he could trust; political naïveté and/or wishful thinking maybe, but at least it was sincere.
A short year before, Bill Clinton forewarned that the Russian leader could get "squishy" on democracy. Well, now we have a home-grown, potential POTUS who is wishy-washy on the American constitution.
Ryan's attempts to inject some purposeful sentiment, "You know, I didn't know the guy at all before the nomination", are designed to absolve himself of any previous association with the realtor. Fair enough, none of us knew the guy at all either and, now that we do, we are running a mile in the opposite direction. Ryan, hand on chin in reflective seriousness, endorses him instead for president of the most powerful country on the planet.
Every word here sounds like a lie, including "and", "for" and "but". Apparently, his mind has succeeded in reaching a "comfort level" with Trump, in contrast to his every visible body part that cries out discomfort -- his hand moves away from his chin awkwardly, his eyes don't know where to look and his neck slouches forward in false emphasis. He pauses with care and thought about the time (cue distracting emphasis) it took to reach his decision, as if lengthening the sentence adds legitimacy; how long does it take to judge the mental age of a bragging frat boy?
So disingenuous is the spectacle that it looks like a captive trying to communicate truths through eye ticks while mouthing "help".
Where is the dignity and, above all, the courage in sacrificing a nation for this? To throw Americans into the jaws of vile rhetoric, stupid understanding and dangerous threats because Ryan doesn't want "more Obama" is to force-feed voters with contempt for the political process.
It is difficult to read the opinion pieces of New York Times columnist David Brooks and reconcile his clear, compassionate conservative thinking with what has become of the US Republican party. Real Republicans should once and for all lower the sprigs of fresh smelling posies and acknowledge the presence of pestilence in their midst. It is besides the point how many back room deals Trump will make with the party. The damage is done; to reputation, credibility and ability to lead, and it is irreparable.
In this context, the video circulating on social media of President Obama and Republican John Boehner, Paul Ryan's predecessor as speaker of the House, sharing popcorn, watching Toy Story and shootin' the breeze over what to do in "retirement", is startling. Why wasn't the camaraderie, the bantering, the mutual respect and acknowledgment of differing viewpoints, indeed the possibility of sitting within inches of each other, present ever in government, when it was needed most? The resulting legislative power vacuum has given rise to the creature whose hair, pursed lips and jabbing fingers have the appeal of jail food, halfway through a life sentence.
Cross-party collaboration is not hypocrisy, nor is it appeasement of the sort that preceded WWII. According to an article by the Congressional Quaterly, millenial voters consider themselves more collaborative by nature while sharing a deep distaste for political posturing. They also believe that a fair and inclusive process is more important than seeing their preferred candidate win. Enough said.