You may recall that in my commentary on Kathleen Parker’s "Palin-should-drop-out" column, I wrote:
Kathleen is able to cite her initial defense of Sarah, then her
breathless tension watching her and hoping she wouldn’t screw up. And
that’s something I can’t possibly identify with — worrying about
someone’s performance because I’m a member of the same demographic.
Maybe I’m too self-centered. But I have had to accept that black folks
do that with Obama, and women do that with Hillary Clinton and/or Sarah
Palin, depending on their proclivities. When I see a white guy out
there succeeding or failing, he’s on his own as far as I’m concerned. I
might agree with him or I might not, but it won’t have anything to do
with which restroom he uses or what boxes he checks off on a census
Well, I found myself breathless at times during the debate — whenever Mrs. Palin was speaking — and was really glad when the whole thing was over. But it wasn’t because I wanted to see a woman succeed. And it wasn’t because I wanted to see McCain’s running mate succeed (his choice of Mrs. Palin is one of the few things about McCain I disapprove of). And it wasn’t because she’s a babe. (even though she was cute, when she wasn’t grating.)
No, it was that phenomenon that comes over me when I’m watching a movie or a TV show, and something’s about to happen that will be enormously embarrassing to the character on the screen, and even if you don’t like the character (although it’s worse if they’re likable), you cringe, because you don’t want to see it. You get embarrassed for the human race; you empathize no matter how much you try not to, and it’s painful.
And the awful part is that you see it coming. Often at such moments, I leave the room. Life is painful enough without having your nose rubbed in contrived discomfort.
As I was typing the above, I was struggling to come up with an example, but one just hit me: I’ve never watched the American version of "The Office," but I’m a big fan of the BBC original. I say that in spite of the fact that the entire second season was just excruciating; David Brent got worse and worse. But in that case, I had to keep watching.
I had to keep watching the debate, too, on account of it being my job. But in the end, it went fine for all concerned. But I was tired, from all the breath-holding.