Thursday, June 10, 2010

Dumbing Down Of American Politics Sells Because We Are Lazy

 I have always detested being accused of being a member of what I think is described as "herd" or "pack" journalist.

 I detest labels assessed by journalists on groups such as the Tea Party because even though they share a few common bonds, they are as different in South Carolina as they are in California.

I detest Sean Hannity's ilk that all Democrats are liberal and even a few moderate ones are taking our nation down in a hand basket.

I detest the blanket phrase that this year's primary and midterm elections are anti-incumbent. I agree only that many voters are angry.

I detest the sweeping label that women in politics is a big deal as so many pundits have swooned over recent election successes by Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, Republican governor nominee Nikki Haley in South Carolina and the former corporate mogul twins Meg Whitman and Carly Fiorina in California.

That trend was trumped years ago with the last glass ceiling to break is reaching the Oval office.

I am impressed with the first time breakthroughs long overdue in our political culture such as a black winning the presidency as is the case of Barack Obama.

People, journalists in particular, love to pigeon hole events because they are lazy.

Rachael Maddow on her Wednesday show on MSNBC rightfully shamed the "anti-incumbent" backlash supplied by the pundit pack by doing some homework.

And then there‘s Congressman Bob Inglis - Bob Inglis of South Carolina.  Bob Inglis of South Carolina legitimately is an incumbent who got voted down in a primary without a corruption scandal or a party switch or a weird activists-only vote at a convention to explain it.  Bob Inglis.  That‘s the one. 
That‘s the one piece of data supporting the whole national narrative of the anti-incumbency wave, one guy who most of us had never heard of before last night.  One guy, for what it‘s worth, who didn‘t even lose.  He‘s in a runoff.  

And, then there's the herd that jumps on the Obama-doesn't-show-his-rage persona as if he's commander-in-outrage or something. That silly contention is raised once again in Obama's approach ineffectively articulating  the government's leadership in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill other than the one "ass kicking" comment.

I watched Jonathon Capehart, the black columnist invited to Chris Matthews' "Hardball" MSNBC show also Wednesday, explain it best. One, it's not Obama's style, and two, it's not wise to be portrayed as an "angry black man," especially if one is a black President of the United States.

Capehart is talking stereotypes here and that leads me back to women in politics.

In past years, we heard they weren't tough enough to make national security decisions. I got over that years ago watching in action Golda Meier of Israel and Margaret Thatcher of Great Britain.

In the U.S. we are constantly reminded of Sarah Palin's choice of wardrobes compared to that preferred by Nikki Haley.

The latest is Carly Fiorina's catty comment about Barbara Boxer's hair style.

Also Fiorina talking into an open mik questioning the sanity of her GOP ally Meg Whitman granting an interview with Sean Hannity.

It's as if no male politician ever made that mistake of which Joe Biden, George W. Bush or Ronald Reagan ever did.

I quote you verbatim of a breathless CNN dispatch:

Carly Fiorina won big in Tuesday's California Senate primary and wasted no time making her first gaffe of the general election -- getting caught on an open mic making fun of her opponent Sen. Barbara Boxer's hairstyle.
While getting made up for an appearance on Sacramento's KXTV-TV Wednesday morning, Fiorina checks her phone and banters with people off camera. She off-handedly mentions that a friend "saw Barbara Boxer briefly on television this morning and said what everyone says, 'God, what is that hair?'" "Sooo yesterday," Fiorina dishes, laughing, before stopping short as someone off camera points out the mic. 
Earlier in the video, Fiorina responds to an off-camera comment with a smile, saying, " Hello, Barbara."

Presto! It's an immediate YouTube sensation seen by millions and reported by all forms of the media, including myself, whose only lame excuse is pointing out an example why we perpetuate the dumbing down of America in political discourse.

It sells.

Rather than getting worked into a fervor over gaffes and sound bites, and Facebooks and Twitters, and fears of being stereotyped by ethnicity and gender by a lazy media and electorate, it would be nice to put off all those preconceived notions and listen to an honest debate.

Fiorina vs. Boxer and Meg Whitman vs. Jerry Brown in California would be worth the admission price of a two-hour debate with follow-up questions in a forum run by the League of Women Voters.

Sames goes for a showdown debate in Arkansas between Lincoln and her Republican opponent Rep. John Boozman. And in Florida between Charlie Crist, Marco Rubio and the Democrat who's on life support, politically, at the moment. And in Arizona between John McCain and J.D. Hayworth.

Instead, voters who do manage to vote, and they are in a minority, are swamped with paid political attack ads, sound bites, and biased political activists and dummies in the media who are more prone to grind an ax or entertain than inform.

In desperation, only the snooze channel is a last resort. Good old reliable C-Span.

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