Wednesday, January 28, 2004

Well. About Dean. Dammit. 

I hate the whole thing, to be honest. Dean is the first and only politician I ever gave money to—and I gave money that I didn't really have. Why? Because I read Dean's famous speech in Los Angeles and thought, "Finally! Someone who is willing to say that The Emperor has no clothes!" Then I took a look at the Dean site, saw universal health insurance, with balanced budgets, a sop to the right on gun control, and what I still insist is a wedge issue for Democrats, civil unions, and I was sold. Not just someone I could think about giving my vote to in a heartfelt way, but a man who had never lost an election. (None of this has changed between then and now, of course—except the part about never losing.) Then I went and saw Dean when I was in Philly, and he was great. My only concern was whether he would look good on TV....

Well, we know a couple of things about the Republicans. One is that they are masters of disinformation (see Machiavelli for the pointers on this). So when Herr Rove fed the media the line that Dean was the opponent he truly, truly wanted to run against we can be sure of one thing: that he was lying like a rug, and that the opposite was true.

We also know that the Republicans are very, very good with media. Heck, they own the outlets, they've booked a lot of the talent, so they ought to get good results, but technically, they are very good as well. Over the fall and into the spring, the Republicans ran with two memes: (1) "hate speech", and (2) "Democratic anger." Any criticism of Bush was called hateful—this after the Clinton saga, Hitlery, and all the rest. And anger was somehow redefined as unseemly, not "nice," something not fit for, well, the public square.

Now, intellectually these are utterly shoddy positions. But I suggest that the Republicans were (as usual) thinking strategically about media. It doesn't matter that the hate and anger thing was junk: what matters is that TV is, as McLuhan famously, a cool medium, and hate and anger are hot emotions. What the Republicans were doing was preparing the media, and the country for a time when Dean, giving a hot speech, would look really bad on a cool medium like TV. Here, I think, the Wellstone funeral was the blueprint. If you there there (hot), you saw and heard one thing; if you saw a TV clip, you saw and heard something else (cool). And the Republicans made use of that, and won a Senate seat.

And, alas, Dean fell into the Republican trap. The Iowa concession speech was far, far too hot, and Dean looked really bad on TV giving it. Never mind that Dean's platform hadn't changed; never mind that Dean had practiced as a doctor for 18 years, and could hardly have kept patients if he were deranged (Seriously, does anyone believe that if there were a hint of a problem with Dean's medical career, that it wouldn't have come to light by now?)

And as a result... Well, I don't think Kerry is a bad man, God knows. (It's a strong field the Democrats have, after all.) But I can make a list of all the abuses the country has suffered from the Bush regime over the past three years, and if I ask "Where was John Kerry?" I don't get a really satisfactory answer. On the war: I don't care that Bush lied to Kerry. What I care is that Kerry somehow imagined Bush might not lie! It isn't as if, by that point, we didn't have plenty of indicators ....

I hope Dean can pick up the pieces and soldier on. After all, the worst that can happen to him has happened, the SCLM has taken its shot, and he is still standing. If the only benefit is to&mdash'finally!—give the Democrats airtime, I want him to soldier on! And if the only benefit is to give the country a better look at Edwards and Clark, ditto....

And I also hope Dean can get the focus back on the issues. Vietnam was a long, long time ago ....

Oh, and Trippi? Aren't campaign managers supposed to prevent things like The Yawp? (Which now, people are saying, ABC News did some actual reportage on, and it couldn't even have been heard across the room .. Yep, a hot medium.)

corrente SBL - New Location
~ Since April 2010 ~

~ Since 2003 ~

The Washington Chestnut
~ current ~

Subscribe to
Posts [Atom]


copyright 2003-2010

    This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?