Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The easily manipulated so-called third estate

UPDATE: Today, in an act of school yard chivalry, Sen. McCain, who once used the lipstick on a pig phrase to describe Sen. Clinton's health-care plan, saying it was the same one she worked during the first two years of her husband's administration, which a was a single-payer government administered plan- a claim, like an increasing number of his claims, that was factually erroneous and easily proven to be false- admitted that Sen. Obama did not call Gov. Palin a pig. I guess they were able to get about a week's worth of distracting the media and, hence, the public out of their ploy. It also bothers me that Michelle Obama was roundly criticized earlier this year when she said that patriotism was difficult for some African-Americans, which should be a non-controversial truism. So, why does Todd Palin, who until 2002 was a member of some nutty Alaskan independence party, to which Gov. Palin herself may have belonged, get a free pass? Besides, it looks like the blatant racism is starting to rear its ugly head at, of all places, a Values Voter summit. Have you heard of Obama Waffles? This as disgraceful as it is disgusting, all the more so because it is apparently sponsored by a Christian group.

I can prove the point made by Dr. Reno in his post Putting Politics in its Place with one word: lipstick! Lest I be misunderstood, the McCain campaign understands metaphor perfectly well, but the news media does not, or at least not the context of the metaphor used by Sen. Obama to describe McCain's- listen carefully- economic policies, not his running mate, who famously used lipstick in her convention speech last week. "On Tuesday, Obama criticized McCain's economic policies as similar to those of President Bush, saying: 'You can put lipstick on a pig ... it's still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change. It's still going to stink after eight years'" (Nedra Pickler writing for the AP). No doubt Sen. Obama's use of the word lipstick was a vague allusion to Gov. Palin's convention speech. This gave his comment some currency and added a little humor. He did not back-handedly call Gov. Palin a pig, which is what the McCain camp is claiming to the news media as a diversionary tactic.

Obama said the McCain campaign moved to "seize an innocent remark and take it out of context because they knew it's catnip for the news media" (Ben Smith). It is, the media went right for it. So, the McCain campaign is stupid like a fox, to employ an analogy. Obama was correct today when he said: "See, it would be funny, but the news media decided that would be the lead story yesterday. This happens every election cycle. Every four years, this is what we do. This is what they want to spend two of the last 55 days talking about...Enough!" (ibid) Enough, indeed. It is easier to manipulate the media in this way in an effort to detract attention away from the criticism made by Sen. Obama than to respond to the criticism.

The real pig, it seems, wearing lipstick, rouge, and a silky dress, is the media in our political culture, especially those in the media who have the audacity to criticize bloggers for irresponsibility. The third estate? In a pig's eye! Such media manipulation is not the exclusive domain of the McCain campaign, this is just the latest installment in the news media's on-going trivialization of U.S. politics. All this after the juvenile antics of Keith Olbermann and Chris Matthews and in the wake of Mr. No Spin's spinning, etc. Tim Russert, we need you!

Despite the vitriol I just heaped on the news media, I still think it fair to ask why Gov. Palin is not making herself available to speak with reporters and is being limited to reading from written scripts in front of friendly and fawning crowds. Perhaps she is being closely contolled by the campaign because of her penchant for invoking God's will for things like the Iraq war and the Alaskan natural gas pipeline, as she did in a speech to ministry students at her church last June. If nothing else, it will make for an interesting debate at St. Louis' Washington University with her opponent and apparent polar opposite, Sen. Biden, who can't bring himself to make a consistent judgment on the basis of his belief, which is taught by his church to be derived from reason, that human life begins at conception, come 2 October.


Rabbi Lars Shalom said...


Suzanne said...

But doesn't this:

Obama said the McCain campaign moved to "seize an innocent remark and take it out of context because they knew it's catnip for the news media" (Ben Smith). It is, the media went right for it.

cut both ways? If McCain's campaign "knew" this would be catnip for the media, AND Obama knows enough to recognize this fact, then he also knew that making the remark in the first place was "catnip for the news media." I'm thinking that both candidates know exactly what they're about.

Dcn Scott Dodge said...

I follow you but I don't think that Obama knew when he made the remark, or, indeed, until made headlines, that it would be taken out-of-context and blown out of proportion.

Of all the words that the candidates speak everyday, especially in the last few months of a presidential campaign, there is no way for them to know which will be siezed upon and which will not.

I think the Obama campaign has done a pretty good job, even when the Rev. Wright stuff was going down, at not playing the race card or playing indignant to criticisms.

Suzanne said...

I grant your point, but Obama must have known, at the very least, that any remark about lipstick would contain some frisson?

Dcn Scott Dodge said...

Probably, but he didn't call her, or even imply that she was a pig wearing lipstick. That the McCain people were able to convince the media he might have implied such a thing does not bode well for the country. Just as it easier to make such sophmoric assertions than to answer the criticism, it easier to report the presidential campaign like its Access Hollywood with Paris calling Britney an air-head, than to ask hard questions and learn about the issues.

Suzanne said...

no contest.

Franklin said...

I say things all the time that people seize upon. I am not nearly so careful in my communication as I should be. I do not, very often, choose my words carefully, and it serves as distraction from what I am trying to communicate. I'm even worse about it than Obama.

While I agree with what you right about the media, and McCain's willingness to manipulate their weaknesses.

But I'm not trying to execute the domestic and foreign policies of a world-superpower.