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Friday, October 3, 2008

Smarmy doesn't work

Cable news media think that all Americans are suffering from terminal media mind. When it comes to talk of who has brains, cable news makes a constant self-admission that it doesn't.

In all the talk over who "won" the vice-presidential debate, the cable news yammer squad has posited that Sarah Palin wins if she just does not screw up. So, the standard is that one wins a debate if one does not implode. The wisdom is that if Palin does not screw up, she redeems her shambling and bluff performance on the recent TV interviews that have provided the hilarious moments in the election campaign. The commentators assume that a creditable debate performace will erase the memory of those revelations of an absence of knowledge.

Sarah Palin showed that she was trainable and could retrieve talking points from the campaign crib book on command. That just proves that she can do what she is told. It does not change the fact that she is a campaign gimmick who is far out of her depth.

And while the TV commentators lauded her for her folksy speech, many people who have some education and respect true knowledge and reason find smarmy references to Joe Sixpack and soccer moms an insult to the intelligence. While we might enjoy coffee with them occasionally, we don't want them at the world negotiating tables or shaping the policies of our country.

But the big factor that the media minds can't grasp is that the nature of campaigns tells us more about the qualities of candidates than their momentary performances.

Hillary Clinton at one point in her campaign decided "to go Republican." Her campaign took to maligning Obama. And many influential people--Sen. Ted Kennedy, Bill Richardson, and on and on--withdrew their support and gave it to Barack Obama. When individuals adopt character assassination as a campaign tactic, they brand themselves as power hungry to the point of being dishonest and malicious.

This happened to John McCain. After the Republican National Convention, he launched ads and made stump speeches that ranged from mean-trivial to out-and-out lies. Performance in a debate cannot erase the memory of someone who betrays the trust in his revelations of a malicious streak that calls his honesty into question.

Smarmy speech and attempts to "identify" with the ordinary folks are not the qualities we look for or need in the White House. Smarmy does not work for anyone.

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Aberdeen, South Dakota, United States