Monday, August 24, 2009

Cleavage - commentary

The scene on America's Favorite Videos showed a close up a bra with ample cleavage. As the camera began pulling back, my expectations began rising. But, as the camera pulled way back, I could see the bra was really on a baby's bottom and my whole mood changed.

Thinking about this led to the following aphorism: Top cleavage (TC - good) and bottom cleavage (BC - bad) can be made to look the same when viewed out of context. This is the lens through which I view politics this season.

Modern political spin masters are paid big bucks to make the good look bad and the bad look good. Consider these examples: By now we have all heard that Michelle Obama said since her husband was nominated to be president, it is the first time she has been proud to be an American. Now, when you consider the context, this seems like a reasonable comment. Finally, we have gone from slavery to a time when a black could actually become president. If you have been waiting for this, it is a moment when you can be proud (TC).

However, the conservative spin masters took it out of context and said she did not like America until her husband became a presidential nominee. Many labeled her an American hater. It is a long stretch from this is my moment of pride to I hate America (BC).

Obama's campaign made a fuss over McCain owning seven houses. Based on this, they claim McCain is so rich he cannot possibly relate to the common person. However, they make no attempt to put this home ownership in context (BC). Many people own multiple houses; we call them landlords. Maybe they belong to his wealthy wife who does business in many areas and doesn't like to stay in hotels. The only context I have heard is that one of the homes is to house his aging mother-in-law (TC).

The spin masters took a short clip of a sermon by the Rev. Wright, Obama’s pastor of twenty years, and determined from this out of context tape that he was an American hater and that Obama, by association, was too. (BC) I hate to think what the spin masters could do with three minutes of some of the sermons I delivered over the years.

For several years the national media has been telling us what a swell guy John McCain is. He’s a maverick who tells it like it is and is not afraid to go against his party and his president and made a big deal out the times he stood against President Bush (TC). Now that he has his party’s nomination, they are telling us a vote for him will mean just another term of the Bush presidency (BC).

The Obama camp likes to point out that McCain voted with Bush 90 per cent of the time. But this requires some context. Most legislation concerns routine matters that most legislators would agree on most of the time. What were the issues of the ten per cent where he opposed Bush? Meanwhile, the McCain camp likes to point out that Obama would not make a decision on 130 pieces of legislation, but rather voted present. Context please! Why does the Illinois legislature allow a present vote and under what circumstances did Obama use it? (BC in both cases.)

And of course, we are going to hear a lot about the inexperience which is pure BC. No one has the experience for the job of U.S. president. It is not the president’s experience that matters so much as the experience of his or her advisers and political appointees. The only people who might have the necessary experience would be vice presidents. Is anyone for Gore or Cheney?

The spin masters have created an environment in which every word and detail must be scripted. We complain about the fact that we never get to see the real candidates, but you can't blame the candidates and handlers for planning every word and detail.
Dan Quayle put an e on his spelling of potato and was forever labeled stupid. Obama says he has campaigned in all 57 states and the conservative pundits label him stupid. Neither are stupid.

I don't care who was proud of America when, who owns how many houses, who knows how to spell potato, or who slips up and says he campaigned in 57 states. I do care what a candidate thinks about the war, the economy, abortion, health care, energy costs, and other things that affect my life. I would like to hear these things discussed in detail by both candidates in open forums and free of spin. I would like them to be able to make occasional gaffs without having the mistakes being put into commercials that grind on my nerves like an old fashioned dentist's drill.
I understand why a president must be scripted since his every word, intonation and gesture is analyzed around the world for meaning, nuance and innuendo. But when it comes to candidates, their speech is for the American people. I for one would like to see the real, unscripted person. But it can't happen if everything they say is subject to being spun without concern for context.

It is not going to happen so we as voters must do our best to discover the true context so we can cast intelligent votes. In the mean time, don’t get too excited about the cleavage until you’ve seen it in context.

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