Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Handicapping the Horse Race

The purpose of propaganda is not to get people to believe in lies; the purpose of propaganda is to murder the idea of truth.

Mission accomplished. The general public now understands that one cannot believe a single thing that is said by any candidate ever, at any time. This has been accomplished not just by a series of broken political promises—that more or less goes with the territory. But the news media and journalistic establishment have connived in the reduction of politics to pure propaganda, calling some politicians liars for having said things that they never said (e.g. Al Gore inventing the Internet), and letting flagrant lies from other politicians pass without comment, save for the "others disagree" squib in the next to last paragraph of the article.

That leaves us with the idea that "character" and "image" are the only important factors to use in evaluating candidates. So let's have at it.

Huckabee is running as a fundamentalist preacher. That seems to be working. Giuliani is running as the biggest bastard on the block. That seems to sell pretty well also.

Romney is having trouble because he can't convince the Republican base that he's not a Mormon. That is the only thing that will work for him, BTW; convincing the base that the LDS aren't a satanic cult is simply impossible. Thompson has lost the "I play one on television" mojo, so now he's just an old guy with a hot wife, and Kucinich might win the Republican nomination (despite his being a Democrat and all) if that were the standard. It just depends on whether you like blonds or redheads, although Kucinich's wife is a Brit and her accent would make most Republicans think that she's too smart to be First Lady.

You'd think that having been tortured would give McCain a leg up, but only losers get tortured, so he's out. Ron Paul is genuine, if by "genuine" you mean "self taught wacko," (again, very appealing to certain elements).

Over on the Dem side, Kucinich has as much chance of winning as he does as a Republican. Biden has a lock on the "Hair Club for Men," vote, but the only way he could finish farther out of the money would be to die his hair plugs green. Richardson is running for Vice-President; everyone knows it and everyone thinks he's doing a great job at it.

Dodd seems to be trying for the Integrity, Courage, and Constitutional Values vote, which means that he won't carry a single state. And there's certainly no money in it.

Among the front runners, you have a black man who isn't considered black, a woman who's supposed to be a lesbian martian cyborg, and a rich white guy who is the champion of the poor. None of the three is crazy, which is a distinct plus. Also, all three benefit from the idea that you shouldn't believe what they say, since that would interfere with their being all things to all people.

It's not clear what will happen when the electorate realizes that Oprah isn't married to Obama, and that Hillary is, in fact, a woman. I'll just repeat my frequent warning: never rule out the middle-aged white guy.


TStockmann said...

While I don't believe people necessarily get policies they'd choose, they certainly get the media they're willing to accept out of ignorance, apathy, or vicious resentment. I think of it primarily as a crime against me.

James Killus said...

I'm pretty sure that our current media situation is due to a contract made in Hell: If you allow us to consolidate and concentrate power in the news industry, we'll make Right Wing ideology our guiding philosophy. I'm only mildly surprised that it took so long to get everybody on board and that there are so few willing to abandon ship, even at this late date.

I tend more to think of the entire matter as a game too complicated for for the average citizen to follow. Even real wonks have trouble keeping score sometimes. In any case, I blame Ideology, and spend the odd moment abusing those who have fallen for the Party line. I have no idea if this has any effect, but it's amusing to me, and I'm sure that we all can agree that this is All About Us.

JP Stormcrow said...

I can either write three sentences on our current media or 3,000. I will just say that future historians will have a field day. Today's favorite (via Atrios): Someone decrying Romney's just eating the cheese off of and/or using a knife and fork to eat pizza. "You want, as a voter, to be able to say, "He looks like he knows his way around a pizza."

How did they know that was my deep and abiding concern.?

TStockmann said...

My impression of my fellow citizens is not that they lack the organic ability to think critical but the sense of obligation to do so. Not sure that locating the failure in the moral arena makes me a meliorist or not.

James Killus said...

I don't believe that my fellow citizens have a good idea as to what critical thinking is, or how to go about it. So, as a public service, I will clear up some of the confusion: critical thinking is what I do, so you go about it by first asking yourself, "How would James Killus analyze this situation?"

I understand that this is a very difficult question to answer, even for those who are gifted at thinking like me. However, the question itself should impart some humility, and humility is, after all, the first step toward enlightenment.

And jp, the first question to ask is in which hand did Romney hold the fork? You can't expect me to answer important questions about Presidential candidates without having all the relevant information.

TStockmann said...

Tsk-tsk - anyone who seems to think that critical thinking is simply self-congratulation but that people/artists like Patti Smith and Magglethorpe are in some transcendent sense "magnificent" has clearly opted to check out intellectually for the duration of his middle-aged existence.

James Killus said...

I understand that decoding irony, even the intentional sort, is often difficult, so I'll supply a decoder ring.

I do believe that there is more to "critical thinking" than mere self-congratulation. However, it is the burden of anyone making an appeal to critical thinking to explain themselves, especially with regard to how critical thinking departs from the aforementioned self-congratulation. You have yet to shoulder that burden, which tends to make me a little snarky.

Also, when you insult me, I'd appreciate it if you confined your insults to me personally, and not go off on any of the people that I might mention here. I've indicated my admiration for quite a few people here in the past months, and I'd rather not think that my evaluation can become merely an excuse at a cheap shot at their expense. It's a rather shabby way to argue, and I would hope that you can do better than that.

TStockmann said...

Oh, come on - my wording on these comments tends to be be exact (as opposed to my typing), and you're not fanboy enough to take a refusal to sign off on the grade of "magnificent" for people neither of knows/knew personally as "an insult," expecially as the maint point was the objectivity of the judgment rather than the judgment itself.

Next, months ago I actually gave you a lengthy although not exhaustive definition of "critical thinking," heavy on technique and light on chest-beating. You didn't onject to any of the elements or suggest there was something important missing (although there could be), only stating that it wasn't practical as a curriculum element. What more do need?

And the answer about how James Killus would analyze a situation - I'd say he'd do a reasonable job if he disagreed with the stance he was critiquing, although with a huge dose of posturing and rhetoric, and a rotten job if he agreed with the conclusion. You're not one of the best who lack all conviction. Does this sound right? I mean, your mirror images pn the right think that the media is dominated by left-wing thinking. I'm supposed to take you more seriously than I take them?

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