Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Spinning Til We're Dizzy

What’s going to happen in Pennsylvania? Will Hillary win by double digits? Will Barack come from behind and surprise the media and the pollsters? What’s it all about? Did you expect an answer to that question? It’s all about the candidates—it always is.
There’s not a great deal of difference between the candidates in terms of policy. They both say they want to address the important issues—of course there’s been so much noise that you can’t hear how they want to address those issues, but at least they know there are problems – unlike the President of the United States whose most memorable response this week was that the Pope’s speech was “awesome”. I still can’t get over the fact that he doesn’t know that gas prices are high – but he doesn’t fill his own tank, and he probably doesn’t look out the window when he’s driving past a gas station.

However, the real question is: the candidates. Do people want another four years of Clinton drama – because that’s not going to stop. And do people believe that Obama is an elitist who doesn’t understand what real people are suffering. Is this election about Reverend Wright, Hillary’s inability to remember whether she was in a dangerous war zone or McCain’s decision to embrace, actually seek the endorsement of a hateful Reverend Hagee, and explain that he loved the guy but didn’t embrace what Hagee says about Catholics.

This was an extraordinary political week for any number of reasons. The Pope talked openly about sexual abuse. He refused to discuss women as priests or priests as women, but he did talk about sex. I guess that’s taking a real step forward if you are mired in 18th century thinking. OK, now you’re thinking, the Pope is not about politics, he’s about religion. Really?, I retort. Well what do you call the decisions about who gets a ticket to the Mass and receives communion? How was it decided that Rudy Giuliani, (divorced twice) not only can receive communion but gets it from the Pope. Everything is political about the church, or the synagogue or the mosque or any ‘organized’ religion. Religion is why we fight wars, it’s why we hate our neighbors, and it’s why we don’t want our children to intermarry. Whew!

Anyway, back to Presidential politics. Hillary did a few shooters, Barack dusted off his shoulder and off they went to find ways to decimate the other. I have said before that I have no problem with the Primary season lasting until June. I think the longer it goes on the more opportunity we have to get to know the future Commander-in-Chief; additionally, it gives them the chance to grow and to mature as candidates. Unfortunately, they appear to be shrinking instead of growing. Take their performance at the controversial ABC debate. Sure, I thought the questions were foolish and certainly not what I expected of Charlie. And sure, it did appear that George was ragging on Obama— and some would say that was because he worked for the Clintons – which I think is just not true. But here’s the bottom line. They are TV people. Right or wrong, ratings (and entertaining), are important to them. They clearly thought those were the questions the public wanted answered and that would keep the audience interested and tintillated. However, there is no law that says the candidates have to answer those questions. It would have been so much better if Obama had said, “you know people want to hear what we think about the war, the economy, foreclosures, and health care. We should not be wasting our time on the word 'bitter,' and how I feel about a lapel pin.” If you are running for the highest office in the land you need to be able to either answer any question, or explain why you shouldn’t have to. I think it was more a missed opportunity than a bad performance.

And, although she finally admitted that he could win the election, Hillary was still talking about Barack’s character. There is a prayer Jews say at their Passover Seder called “Daiyanu”. It means 'enough.' Everytime I hear her talk about what Obama doesn’t understand or what kind of person he is, I just want to shout “Daiyanu”. I want to say, “tell us something about you. Don’t give us a list of what the problems are, we know them only too well. Tell us how you are going to solve them. On day One, what will you do that’s going to make any difference in my life?” There are so many people with Clinton fatigue that it may start to rank right up there with the flu as equally debilitating.

The pundits are all using analogies to describe the difference in candidates. He’s a cell phone. She’s a hard line. He’s the internet. She’s a fax machine. Is that a way to say he’s young and hopeful, she’s old think? I’m tired of technical analogies but seriously grateful that they are not using sports analogies—he’s a bowling pin and she’s the ball.

The truth is, most of the pundits are old think and those young pundits don’t know much about national politics or campaigns. Combined, the two groups may actually be able to make some reasoned predictions, but they will have to really listen and learn. Never mind. They won’t. They are in it for the attention and money and it only matters if you care what these people have to say. What’s important is that younger voters seem more concerned about hope and change, than about race or gender. The TV pundits are still talking about these two factors as if this election was being held in 1960. Things have changed. Attitudes have changed. First time voters, and they are certainly not all Democrats, understand that they can make a difference. The candidates better watch out. There is more to this voter than an appearance on “Colbert” or “SNL.” But they do get that they have had enough of an impact that the next President feels it is important to do ‘shtick’ on shows that they watch.

This whole thing reminds me of what Moses said to the Pharoah. He said, “Look Pharoah, if you don’t let my people go there’s going to be some hell to pay. I’m sending locusts, plagues and boils. If that doesn’t convince you, I’m taking all the first born sons.” You are probably saying, “What is she talking about?” Indirectly -- you may say circuitously, I am talking about spin. The Clinton people say, 'if Obama can’t win after all the money he has spent in Pennsylvania, then he’s not going to be able to win a general election.' The Obama people say, “We were twenty points behind. We came from nowhere. We can certainly win a general election.” I say, “The Obama campaign raised and spent it’s money wisely. Clinton was so sure that the election would be over in February, she did not make any long range plans.” Although governing and campaigning are different, running a good campaign is a sign that candidate, as well as the staff, know what it takes to affect change. I just hope we’re all smart enough to know that boils, plagues, and locusts are not the route we want to take to make that change. We're just sayin...

2 comments:

Bebe Bahnsen said...

Iris, I thought again while reading this what I have thought so often--you need to be a TV commentator. You bring knowledge, wit and humor to a campaign that is sadly lacking those assets most of the time. There must be some way you can reach the people who make those decisions.
Also, have you posted to Youtube, something I never check unless someone tells me about a specific posting, but folks who do bookings check it.
Also, have you and David submitted your blog to sites that use submitted blogs? Of course I can't find that list right now.
Anyway, you go back and forth between D.C. and New York. You are a priceless commentator. Go for it, friend!

Iris and David said...

Thanks Be. I wish I had the ability to explain to the candidates as well as their staffs how important having a sense of humour is--especially when things seem impossible. I love and thank you for your comments. They inspire me to continue to be funny without having a big platform or even a little stage.