August 22, 2008
The Low Road Most Traveled (Bob Franken)
@ 10:51 am
Just think. If Nathaniel Hawthorne was living today, his book might have been called The Seven Houses of McCain.
I use that otherwise irrelevant literary reference to get the attention of all you out-of-touch elitists who are turning up your noses at the odor of this year's snarky campaign.
Nowhere is the lip-service to "substantive issues” more pronounced than at the wine-and-cheese gatherings of those who have the misguided belief the candidates should stay away from simple-minded issues. Why do we care whether McCain can keep track of all his real estate, or about Barack Obama's "celebrity"?
We damn well better care. First of all, emotion trumps intellect. Always. Thanks to the dumbing-down of society by the profiteering private sector, we are no longer willing to devote any energy toward comprehending the complexities of our problems that need to be dealt with in the public sector.
These days, it's far better to be righteous than right — as in, correct. Furthermore, an impetuous response to the crisis du jour, be it gas prices or Russian troops in Georgia, is always better politically than a deliberate one.
Even more effective is the passive-aggressive cheap-shot. That's the particularly insidious kind where the wide-eyed candidate and his surrogates insist he or his didn't intend to inflame, that anyone who believes otherwise is being overly sensitive.
How could we think McCain's accusation that Barack Obama was playing the "race card” was not meant to raise the alarm to bigots that Obama is black, as if they needed any more alarms? How could we believe Obama being dismissive of John McCain's positions as "tired" and "old" is not meant to remind everyone that McCain is in his 70s? Ageism? Be still my heart.
Both candidates have been trying to smear the "Out of Touch" label on each other. Never mind that wealth, like McCain's, is the ultimate American dream, and a first-rate education like Obama's is a fundamental attribute of leadership.
Those who decry the direction of this campaign overlook the fact that most of us are not rich, we struggle, and most of us didn't get an Ivy League education, for whatever reason.
What really matters doesn't matter when it comes to getting elected. What sells best is the Politics of Envy. The object of that envy changes almost daily. Oftentimes it's someone on the fringes. Yesterday, it was Paris Hilton. Today it's John McCain's real estate agent.