How Much Do Republicans Weigh?

By Amis, Martin | Newsweek, September 17, 2012 | Go to article overview

How Much Do Republicans Weigh?

Amis, Martin, Newsweek

Byline: Martin Amis

Martin Amis on God, money, and what's wrong with the GOP

"How much," Josef Stalin once asked, "does the Soviet Union weigh?" He was hoping to instill in his terrified advisers a sense of their country's rightful place in the world: i.e., number one. For those who come to the U.S. to live as opposed to visit (me, for instance), it's the first thing that strikes you: the astronomical mass of America. You ask yourself, how much does America weigh? And soon you are wondering about its place in the world (number one), and about the durability of its predominance.

And what is the tonnage of its political machinery? Arriving in Tampa, and making your way to the hub of the Republican National Committee, you initially confront the great humorless grid of American "security." The roped-off streets, the menacingly geo-stationary helicopters, the (false) rumors of drones in the stratosphere, the National Guardsmen, the 3,000 cops from all over Florida, the men with SHERIFF or SECRET SERVICE stamped on their bulletproof aprons, and the operatives who are even more secret than that: they wear (i) a twirly plastic tube in the ear, and (ii) an adamantine scowl. That's what security people are, 99.9 percent of the time: professional scowlers. And soon there will be X-rays and pat-downs, and the sort of lines that would make you groan at LAX or JFK.

First, the colossal edifice of the Convention Center. In the Google Media Lounge I found myself transfixed by a valiant multi-tasker who was power-walking on an exercise machine while apparently shooting a film about his own computer. And in the gaping atrium everyone who wasn't yelling out greetings stood hunched in tense communion with their BlackBerrys or their iPads. On the second floor the networks were carving the hangar-like space into exclusive nooks and crannies. The scale was gargantuan, like a De Quinceyan opium vision of infinity.

Thence, by shuttle bus, to the Tampa Bay Times Forum, the stadium-sized amphitheater soon to be graced by the stars of the GOP, their innumerable delegates, and 15,000 representatives of the media. Up on stage long-haired middle-aged men twanged out the kind of patriotic folk music we might call jingo-rockabilly. Filling the giant screens, typically, were clips of soldiers on airfields moving in heroic slow motion, as in an agonizing dream of effort and retardation. And the platforms were scattered with the impedimenta of the television crews, arc lights, gantries, metal trunks, and beyond, ankle-deep in a snake pit of cables, hovered vaguely familiar figures, wearing slightly sickly smiles--household faces, under a light coating of Skippy.

That TV anchors strongly resemble politicians--the otherworldly glow, the dense hairdos, the makeup--is, as Marxists say, no accident. They are communicators, above all. And what exactly was communicated, down on the Gulf of Mexico, among the megatons of tackle and clobber, the silly hats, the glut of money (thanks to the super PACs "there is no airtime left to buy"), the sweating, sneezing journos (alternately drenched by the cloudbursts, steamed by the humidity, and frozen by the arctic AC), and the succession of tub-thumpers and cue-card readers on the podium--what ideas were voiced, what policies adumbrated, what philosophies explored?

The Republican dialectic, in 2012, can be summarized as follows. Obama might or might not have inherited a difficult situation (and Democrats, at least, will remember George W. Bush's historic warning in 2008: "This sucker could go down"); but he hasn't fixed it, so let's try Romney, who's a businessman, not a socialist. This lone notion was pressed home with repetition, tautology, platitude, redundancy--and then more repetition.

Madamic good ole girls in scarlet ensembles, peanut-faced glozers in ambassadorial suits and ties, puns, rhymes, tinkertoy wordplay ("Give me liberty--not gimme, gimme, gimme"), alliteration, iteration, my mom said to me, started a small business, almighty God is the truth of all we have, inherit our hopes and dreams, my daddy said to me, started a small business--and all of this seconded by the brain-dead, couch-potato tweets that looped the hall in illuminated script: "I'm so proud to be a Republican," "The Bush family is so awesome," "Look at all the Olympians on stage for Romney. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • A full archive of books and articles related to this one
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Cite this article

Cited article

Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)


1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

Cited article

How Much Do Republicans Weigh?


Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25,

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

    Already a member? Log in now.