On canned convention speeches and the uses of intimacy

A fireside chat with Michelle Obama gives way to a late-night infomercial with Larry Kudlow.

The 10 Funniest Infomercials To Grace Your Screen - Best Marketing Degrees

Psst. It’s over. You can come out now.

With most of this year’s two conventions consisting of speeches given to TV cameras rather than an exhibition hall full of people, I felt freed, with a minimum of guilt, not to watch and to time-shift instead. I would wait until the reviews came in and then catch only those individual performances that I’d been told not to miss. What I lost in opportunities to deliver real-time wisecracks on social media I more than gained in enhanced mental health, and in time to catch up on some blessedly un-topical reading while savoring with my dear wife these last summer evenings on our front porch.

(Justin Kaplan’s Mr. Clemens and Mark Twain, if you must know. I’ve been on a Twain kick since Sarah and I last month visited his remarkable Hartford mansion. This was during the same road trip to Maine on which we stopped, driving home, near the ill-fated former burial site of Thomas Paine. See my earlier post, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”)

(But I digress.)

A lot of people found the Covid-imposed convention format more intimate than the traditional convention speech, and I guess it was. But they stopped saying so after the Republican revelries began. What seemed, with Michelle Obama, a lovely warm fireside chat took on, with Larry Kudlow, the characteristics of a late-night infomercial pitching a miracle cure for toenail fungus. Kudlow began with the classic refrain of the down-on-his-luck former celebrity turned pitchman: “Hello folks, you know me from TV and radio.”

It went downhill from there. Here is my latest, on Kudlow’s delusional case for the Trump economy, for the New Republic.

You can watch Kudlow’s actual performance below. Oh, and you’re welcome for my not posting here any disgusting photographs of toenail fungus.