It’s Not About Race. It’s About the Issues!
You may have already seen the YouTube interview linked at the end of this post, but it illustrates a problem that has become all too evident in this Presidential Campaign. Obama has more than just skeletons in his closet. He has corpses in there, rotting and swollen and maggot infested. But the voters don’t care. And why don’t they care? The reason that the voters don’t really care is that the media isn’t making a big deal about it. If it were important, the media would be making a big deal about it. Since the media doesn’t make a big deal about it, it must not be important.
All of this making Neal Postman’s important work in his book Amusing Ourselves to Death that much more prophetic. In fact, this election, like none before, has proven him right. We really do turn off our mind. The TV really is our epistemology. Television really does free politicians from the limited field of their own expertise. As a friend of mine said recently, elections are not about politics. Elections are the new American Idol.
We are not permitted to know who is best at being President or Governor or Senator, but whose image is best in touching and soothing the deep reaches of our discontent. We look at the television screen and ask, in the same voracious way as the Queen in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest one of all?” We are inclined to vote for those whose personality, family life, and style, as imaged on the screen, give back a better answer than the Queen received. As Xenophanes remarked twenty-five centuries ago, men always make their gods in their own image. But to this, television politics has added a new wrinkle: Those who would be gods refashion themselves into images the viewers would have them be. (pp.. 135)
So, we should not be surprised by this interview, which was produced by (gulp!) the Howard Stern Show, of all things. To be fair, he had one interviewer who supported McCain, and thought that Joe Biden was McCain’s running mate. But as you listen to these interviewers, I want you to repeat with me… “It’s not about race. It’s not about race. It’s not about race. It’s about issues.”