Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Addicted to Election Coverage

I'm not saying this in an enthused manner at all. Everything I can get my hands on concerning the election I'm scoping it out. It's wearying beyond belief, especially the closed-mindedness and petty attacks I keep running across. I warn you, this is a long post.

CNN loves putting on two opposing views, sometimes 4 people (2 lefty, 2 righty). The arguments are a waste of time, and yet I sit there giving it my full attention like I'm going to glean anything from them.

Well, I do glean things from them in my own particular way. I'm a student of human nature, and more of a misanthrope than I would ever hope for myself to be. And when these various lefties and righties speak, and I realize that I cannot take anything they say seriously because they are party apologists and nothing their candidates do are wrong, then I start focusing on reactions and demeanor.

One person I've become obsessed with watching is Nancy Pfotenhauer, who has a small role in a Daily Show clip I posted down below. She's a McCain campaign adviser and she shows up on all the networks pounding the McCain message. She is, like all of the various leaners who are invited on these shows, there to keep the agenda flowing, cleaning up all the doubts you may have about the candidate, attacking and counter-attacking, giving not one decimal of a centimeter to the people she faces off against.

Pfotenhauer does this thing that she had to have been coached on a long time ago and in which she has become extremely talented. It's just plain scary, and at the same time, amusing, to watch. Find any clip of her on YouTube and watch what she does when the other (and equally dubious) talking head says anything against McCain. She smiles really, really big, then shakes her head, keeping that smile going and then her expression always turns to that of "I'm listening to what you're saying, and you're going to look foolish saying it, but I'll give you the chance to air it out."

Behind this smile and taking things in stride and, well, doing what she's paid to do, I imagine a lethal serpent ready to strike. Like when she goes home she peels off her skin and slithers into a crawlspace to rest. And after I come to that conclusion, I am then led to the idea that there may not be anything living there at all. I sometimes wonder what would happen if her opponents, keeping the same tone of voice, started spouting pro-McCain talking points, would Pfotenhauer pick up on it? Kind of like the old "Bugs Bunny" cartoons where Bugs and Elmer Fudd would get in argument, "Am not, are too!" and then Bugs switches it around so that Elmer would go to the other position. The subtext of which is, that in an argument, the life of an argument (and those who are paid, or just merely want, to argue) depends on you disagreeing on everything, even if you turn around to the other person's side.

I watched an argument last night where the lefty didn't have anything meaningful to say, so she brought up the, "McCain doesn't know how many houses he owns!" nonsense, as if this has anything to do with his ability to lead.

As for the facts surrounding the campaign, I've begun to look at factcheck.org to see research into claims made by the candidates. There is misleading info on both sides, true...but the McCain campaign has made this an art form this year. Still, there is an excellent look into lies told about Sarah Palin on this site, but is also quick to note the lies she tells as well.

After doing the research, hearing the advisers square off becomes an even more hateful task. There's one guy I saw on Fox News swearing up and down that Obama voted for a measure that would have taught sex education to kindergartners. And he didn't know all of the facts, but yet he was the strongest talker in the room, and no one was able to talk him down from it. And thus, everyone watching the program who don't know the facts come out thinking a certain way that is false. And it continues my souring of human nature.

Further detriment to my health was when I read this article by Ann Coulter. It must be said that I'm impatient with anyone who doesn't merely lean on a side, they are 100% that side. Extreme. And then you also can't help but think that, like Ron Perlman's character in The Last Supper, Coulter often takes extreme views to not only satisfy the choir but incite the ones who will always disagree (It's the ratings thing man). I read the article, then I read the comments. The lack of open-minded, problem-solving, reasonable people is downright frightening. I would not want to ever meet these people.

I am one who disagrees that just because America has been in Iraq and Afghanistan fighting wars that this is the reason why terrorists have not attacked us in 7 years. Remember, Clinton did nothing and he definitely should have, (and in fact had Bin Laden in his sights and didn't act) and we had the same result: 7 years of nothing. But remember, the outcry for vengeance was not as it was in 2001. Remember, after the first WTC bombing, we heard of the guy who rented the van implicated in the bombing and wanted to get his deposit back because he reported the van stolen...and we in America laughed at the man's stupidity and went on with our lives.

As David Cross said in his stand-up routine that I saw with Jonathan at Exit/In, "Bush gets all this credit for going to war as if that was something no other President would have done." The 9/11 attacks were a different animal than the 1993 ones. Almost everyone wanted to go to war after that day. If Bush had not, there would have been an outcry. It's when the attention went from Afghanistan to Iraq that people got tired of war as a good idea. Even your typical leftists supported the Afghanistan invasion, because it made sense. Iraq made sense, too, for awhile, but that was an idea that capitalized on our fears and before we could get out of the 9/11 stupor that had taken hold to say it didn't make sense, we were already there.

But read what actual people have to say about all this and you realize people have views that cannot ever be shaken, because I think many people consider this a sign of weakness. I do not. I can be swayed with evidence that my opinions are wrong and I will then take that position. I want what's best. If we were deciding between two products this November (we are, in a metaphorical sense) then I would check their features. Which has the best features for me, which features are just marketing nonsense, what are downright weaknesses. It disturbs me that many people are making a decision based on, "Well, I have bought Microsoft products all my life, and Microsoft products are what I will always buy, even if the Apple product might have better features...I just don't trust Apple."

There are too many people who are just Republican or just Democrat. If John McCain came out tomorrow and started spouting the exact same stuff Barack Obama says, you would see people like Nancy Pfotenhauer finding a way to make this seem like he's always been this way and that the same stance by the opponent is not as strong or is outright different from her candidate's stance.

I guess what I'm saying is that I should stop watching election coverage.

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At 9/17/2008 01:41:00 AM, Blogger Mike said...

Amen. I don't agree on every point, but the main tenor of it... yes. I am tired of the crap. Everyone sticks to their guy no matter what. It's a sickness, but, I'm afraid, a very human one.

In the end, I just see four muppets.

At 9/17/2008 12:26:00 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I remember SNL doing a series of commercials years ago during an episode. It all revolved around some kids running for 4th grade president of their school. They were full out smear campaigns with things said like "You may trust Billy Johnson, but did you know he was caught picking his nose after 3rd period yesterday. Do you really want to elect a nose picker?"

Really silly stuff, but then I always think about those bits on SNL whenever I watch the stuff you are writing about because in the end SNL wasn't that far off from reality.


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