No one expected
At 2012's national political party conventions, though, self-revelation was a requirement. It was as if the candidates, their wives and many of the supporting speakers were guests of Oprah or (reaching way back to early TV) contestants on "Queen for a Day."
This imperative to get personal was due, in part, to the unusually private natures of the men at the top in both parties.
Strange as it seems,
So, First Lady
Both Obama and Vice President
Brothers, sisters and sons were marshaled to say what super people the Obamas and the Romneys are. Regular folk with heartfelt stories gave testament to Romney's good works as a Mormon bishop. And most of the speakers who stepped up to the microphone seemed to have their own story to tell about a hardscrabble childhood, a working-class dad, a saintly mom and immigrant grandparents seeking the American dream.
All this biographical speechifying is a contemporary iteration of the way so many 19thcentury presidential candidates claimed to have risen from humble roots -- even if those roots were planted in a sprawling antebellum mansion with slave quarters nearby. A great deal was made of
Twenty-first century America is a society that craves intimate details about celebrities while common citizens share personal facts freely on Facebook and Twitter. It is no surprise that the handlers of our presidential candidates seek to win advantage by feeding that public fascination. There is nothing wrong with this, unless biography overshadows serious discussion of policy.