The Rock Star And The Navy Veteran
By many measures the Democratic National Convention has been a success for the Democratic Party and for Senator Barack Obama. As it turned out, Invesco Field with its eighty four thousand seating capacity, turned out to be a bit too small for the crowd that came to see Mr. Obama accept the Democratic nomination. I have to admit I didn’t watch much of the affair. Too much of the convention reporting was spent talking to political pundits who were experts on everything such as the intent behind the color of the stage, who was wearing what, the size of somebody’s lapel pin American flag, and other such nonsense. I watched most of the convention through the filter of the early morning news shows hoping to get the gist of what happened the night before.
On Friday morning I woke to do my treadmill thing while listening to John Roberts on CNN. Mr. Roberts referred to Mr. Obama as the rock star nominee. It didn’t register in my brain immediately. It took about five seconds for me to become aware of the subtle manipulation that is being projected to the public. How many weeks ago did the Republican Party create the rather ridiculous accusation that Mr. Obama is little more than a celebrity on par with such socialites as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton in one of their campaign advertisements? But now, it appears that at least CNN is ready to do a little slandering of Mr. Obama on behalf of Senator John McCain and give the Republicans a little free political advertising.
I have little doubt that most people who were watching the broadcast heard the slight dig at Mr. Obama and had let it settle into their subconscious without a second thought, or a first one for that matter. There is little doubt that is the first time this network used this reference to Mr. Obama. There is little doubt that it will be the last. All the while, the power of suggestion will subtly try to persuade people to think of Mr. Obama as nothing consequential and void of depth.
In the meantime, the Republican candidate, presidential hopeful Senator John McCain, will be referred to as the navy veteran. The implication here is one of patriotism and courage and strength of character that is greater than most individuals, certainly better than any politician with the celebrity on a scale of a Ms. Hilton or a Ms. Spears. The image of Mr. McCain is one of stability and pragmatism. The suggestion is that he is a person who is willing to put personal sacrifice on the line in order to do whatever for his country.
There are other, more colorful references for Mr. McCain. Paris Hilton called him the white haired dude. A group supporting Mr. Obama’s bid for President called the Republican hopeful McSame. It doesn’t take much imagination to come up with colorful expressions of McCain like McCrypt or Mc-Needs-A-Cane or McShame or McFreakingOld. But instead, the network will use a reference that elevates Mr. McCain’s character while choosing an expression that makes a dig at Mr. Obama’s popularity.
The fact that people are already suspicious of Mr. Obama and his desire to serve as President doesn’t help. So many people are quick to buy any of the propaganda currently in circulation about Mr. Obama. He doesn’t have enough experience is probably the favorite. But there’s also the one that paints him as a Muslim, as if that’s a crime. These same people who believe he’s a Muslim will say that he spent so many years listening to his Christian Pastor Jeremiah Wright preach hate against the white community. People are quick to say that Mr. Obama is an elitist out of touch with the rest of the population even though Mr. McCain is the one who has to hire somebody in order to determine how many houses he and his family own. I don’t think we ever got a clear answer on that one.
There was a time that the Democratic nominee was called the Democratic nominee and the Republican nominee was called the Republican nominee. No commentary was necessary. There was a time when it was just the facts. But now, in the era of twenty four hour news stations, colorful news commentary is necessary to keep people interested and watching. Now, instead of referring to the two presidential candidates with their respective titles, we hear reporters refer to our choice of candidates as the rock star and the veteran.
I’m sure CNN is not the only one using these references. Other networks will use them as well. And each is very aware of its lack of being fair and impartial in the selection of its colorful handles for the two candidates. I have no doubt that by design the news agency is trying to covertly influence people’s thinking. The two extremes could not be more disparate and keep their on the down low status. The hope is that come November, people will go into the voting booth persuaded from the constant barrage of messages that help us conjure up images of the rock star and the veteran. Some people who are easily influenced and could go either way will stand there and scratch their heads wondering why it’s so hard for them to take Mr. Obama seriously and why Mr. McCain appears to be such a strong character. It’s all in the power of persuasion.