I jokingly remarked to my DH (Darling Husband) yesterday that the first names of the potential Republican candidates for POTUS, made me wish for names that sounded more “presidential.”
“Mitt”? Sounds mostly like baseball equipment. “Newt”? Sounds mostly like a salamander. Who takes a leader with a clownish name seriously?
You, of course, may or may not remember the shallow, inane, and laughable “he looks Presidential” standard invented by the media in the past twenty years . . . . Unfortunately, it’s still, more than ever, all about appearances and sound bites.
Yesterday, a voter in South Carolina was explaining why he voted for Newt. It had everything to do with being glib and not much to do with being good or doing what’s best for the country. He voted for Newt because he could be counted on in every future “toe-to-toe” debate with Obama to “win” the debate. However, how that translates into being an effective leader in the country and in the world, I don’t know.
It seems that the prevailing sentiment against Mitt may be largely due to his lack of “stage presence.” He seems viscerally uncomfortable with the way politics is done these days – requiring him to play popularity games and to regurgitate empty slogans and sound bites while “looking Presidential.” He seems nearly sick to death of it all. I cannot bear to watch the news clips of him and his family. To me it looks like it’s killing them all.
A great many people apparently have a hard time feeling a “connect” with Mitt. Of course, the anti-Mitt “cult of Mormonism” propaganda causes otherwise decent people to feel uneasy about him. Nevertheless, in our over-riding culture of entertainment, we seem to focus too much on “style” and symbolism. We like the style and the symbolism of the triumphant debate winner. We don’t value as highly the substance of a person’s moral character or his propensity for following time-honored guiding principles. Indeed, some people feel extremely uncomfortable and incredulous around someone who tries really hard to do the right thing all the time: “Is he for real???? Nobody’s that good!”
So. Bottom line: I feel sad that so many Americans size up our political candidates using a measuring stick of shallow, inane, and often laughable criteria. And, of course, I fear for our country because of the tremendous power of the news media to shape our views and attitudes. Those who control the news media, control what we see and hear. Thereby, the media controls what we think and feel. And what we think and feel controls what we do.