Wednesday, September 3, 2008


The news coverage of the race for the White House in the U.S. circumnavigates the globe and pulls the world’s attention. The results will not only impact all Americans, it will affect lives around the world for the next four years. In this context, how does one reconcile with the current panoply of coverage we are subjected to that has long faded from thoughtful observation and conscientious reporting, or assessment, and dissolved into a disorienting carnival? Emotions rule the day, each side saddled with leadership it now has to sell.

Serious publications print articles, the content of which wouldn’t get traction in a discussion with the kids over dinner. A parent would be too embarrassed to allow such pettiness or rancor to be overheard by the kids such as some of the commentary the world is being subjected to by the mainstream press. At the root of this phenomenon lies the fact that whatever your political inclination, and in the U.S. your choice is really limited to Democratic or Republican, you now sell whatever leadership you have been given. Like it or not.

The hard sell has taken ridiculously emotional paths that have included philippic retaliating rants on Sarah Palin’s soon to be born out of wedlock grandchild, and the possibility that a former beauty pageant contestant might become Vice President. Other swirling invectives such as observations on Biden’s hair plugs have strained common sense. The most consistent pummeling addresses the expectation of on the job training that to be anticipated particularly for Obama and Palin, as if that has historically been relevant in past elections which catapulted Reagan, Cinton or Bush into the oval office.

Through the haze of subjective thrashing and personal attacks, today’s elections are about personalities, and the relative ability to sell them. They are hardly about confronting and addressing the challenges facing American taxpayers. On the personality front, Obama has been a better salesman, and the persona he has dedicated a lifetime creating has been able to resonate with enough of the audience, providing him support from half the electorate. McCain can’t give a compelling speech, so it will remain to Palin later today to rise to the greatest test of her life. Her delivery will inevitably be measured against Obama’s fluid talent with rhetoric, and she will have to bring the house down – not the Republican house but the viewers sitting at home seeking to make a purchase on who will lead them for the next four years.

Unfortunately the electoral decision won’t have much to do with content so much as delivery of and by the package, regardless what accusations or recriminations of sexism, feminism or racism might be floated by either selling group. The larger media outlets have done a deplorable job of presenting balanced perspectives, and have failed in the critical responsibility of the fourth estate to provoke debate on the core concerns of the taxpaying electorate.

1 comment:

  1. Based solely on information, experience and not on party affiliation, I think Obama made a good choice with Biden and I think McCain made a bad choice with Palin. I think Biden levels out Obama's shortages. I do not think Palin does that. She only has two years experience (and please don't tell me that being a mayor of a small town counts either). This, as all other elections has not been who is the best of the best but the best of the worst. It amazes me that of all the people we have in politics, we can't find two better candidates!!!! Come on, are the parties are so stuck on name recognition and hype that they can't pull out a new, fresh face, someone with credibility and integrity? Ok, I guess Obama is the closest to that but many don't want him because of his lack of experience and I hate to say it but because he is black. I am a white, middle aged man that expects to vote for him because I believe McCain has been to close to the fire for too long to really make a change.