Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Faking Authenticity

Reading Christopher Benfey’s latest NYRBlog post, “Posing for the Senate,” was more amusing than I anticipated it would be; but it was also more than a little disconcerting. He did a good job of warranting his conception of the Massachusetts Senate race between Elizabeth Warren and Scott Brown as a remake of Adam’s Rib. My guess, however, is that the analogy will be lost on a major portion of the Massachusetts electorate, on the grounds that they have never heard of the movie, let alone seen it.

That would sort of deflate the message Benfey was trying to deliver, which is his suggestion that the voters are looking for authenticity, rather than “posing.” I cannot conceive of any election that has ever been grounded in authenticity; and, of course, the whole point of Adam’s Rib is that our adversarial legal system is such that juries are more likely to respond to “poses” than to authenticated facts. The Massachusetts Senatorial election is not about which candidate is more likely to improve the quality of life for the state’s residents. It is about the goals of the respective political parties to establish a strong majority in the Senate. In other words it is about which party (if either) will have a firm lock on power, through which it can then command allegiance from its members. The voters simply do not figure into that equation, whether or not they recognize authenticity or care about doing so.

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