The Politics of- What Else?- Politics
Ah, Fall: the season of drifting leaves, a crisp chill in the air, earlier sunsets, tailgate parties.... and a plethora of political ads, debates, interviews, and, of course, pundits dominating the airwaves. The latter are particularly prominent in a Presidential election year. How many of them can be taken seriously, though, in a world in which “politics” has become almost a profanity?
Truth in Politics- An Oxymoron?
Question: What is the worst thing about any politician?
Answer: His political nature.
“Was that supposed to be a joke?” you might ask. The answer, unfortunately, is an unequivocal “NO.”
Think about it. Is there really a politician you can trust? Do you honestly believe that the man or woman who’s running for state or national senate/congress, or President of the United States, or even local dog catcher is a politician who is trustworthy? Especially in today’s media-manipulated society, can the words politician and trustworthy ever be compatible?
Debate or Broadway Debut?
Think back for a moment to some recently televised political “debates.” (That word, too, has become debatable. I haven’t seen too many debates that have followed anything close to a formal debate structure.) Picture the players (for that is what the candidates have become: frightening caricatures of the “all the world’s a stage” pronouncement set forth so long ago by William Shakespeare), and then recall the commentary that followed. In many cases, what the candidates actually had to say was eclipsed by demeanor and delivery.
After the recent vice-presidentail debate, for example, Vice-President Biden’s facial expressions and laughter were deemed by strategists and citizens alike anywhere from “good political strategy” to “downright rude,” depending on who was doing the commentary. It would seem that today’s politicians are coached on “form” rather than “content.” In fact, ever since The media chose political pandering in lieu of objective journalism, the word drama has taken on a whole new meaning in respect to politicians. Today, it seems that the turn of his/her mouth weighs far heavier than a politician’s turn of phrase or, for that matter, his actions.
Weapons of.... Instruction?
The turn of phrase, though, is another interesting political weapon. It’s a stretch to believe anything that comes out of a politician’s mouth these days, and the media can take much of the credit for that sad state of affairs, too. It seems that when a politician makes a remark that seems to be sincere, the media somehow twists and turns it, so that by the time they’ve put atheir negative spin on it, the remark ends up sounding like the result of a game of “whisper-down-the-alley.” Think back on some of the recent comments made by politicans on both ends of the political spectrum; I’m sure you’ll be able to recall some excellent examples of the Verbal Boomerang Effect. (Hints: “I want everybody to get a great education.” “47%”; “Big Bird”; etc., etc.)
Televised political ads are another form of grist for the Media Mill. Why can’t politicians focus on reitering their credentials and core values rather than on slinging mud against their opponents? The ad portraying a candidate pushing a wheelchair-bound senior citizen over a cliff evidently elicited so much negative reaction that it was pulled in short order. Locally, one candidate for state reresentative must have tired of seeing himself portrayed as an invisible man/ career politician type of guy and, came up with an ad that labels his opponent “Tea Party Tom.” Nice alliteration.
Fact Checks Are A Good Thing
Then there’s the other side of the coin: those who reiterate (questionable?) credentials ad nauseum, like the woman who’s running for state attorney general who claims to have tried over 3,000 cases during her career. Her opposition, however, says that she’s only tried 20. There’s quite a gap between 20 and 3,000. Who is telling the truth? Hopefully, you’ve been fortunate enough to miss the guy who seems to be using his bald pate as a running point. His televised ads feature photos of members of the opposing party, all of whom have a full head of hair. It’s something of a stretch, but “they might have more hair, but I’ll save medicare” does use poetry to make a point of some kind.
The Bottom Line
As far as I’m concerned, name-calling, feather-ruffling, and false posturing should have ceased in middle school. (After all, most of the candidates are college graduates.) Perhaps, the, the “campaign bar” could be raised at least to a high school level. Wouldn't it be a plus to have those who represent us serve as admirable examples of ethics and accountability?