Monday, January 14, 2008

Tabloid Politics

You didn't have to hang around supermarket checkout lines this past week to get your fill of hyperventilated, manufactured claims. The various so-called legitimate pages of the MSM were dishing out sensationalism left and right. No, not about Batboy. But, unless you live in a cave or just haven't been paying attention, the guano being flung around between various surrogates (and people labeled 'surrogates' who were no such thing) of the Obama and Clinton campaigns made people like me don full-sized body condoms for protection. It's been nasty.

The issue, of course, has been racism. No small topic. But the way it has all been handled has been despicable and that has diminished both campaigns. No matter who you think is to blame for what may or may not have been a coordinated effort to smear one or the other candidate, the fact is that neither Obama nor Clinton ordered an official ceasefire to this war (for those insurgents they actually could control) until late Monday. Neither completely rose above the fray to display what they have been assuring Democrats and other Americans will be their style of governance: change, unity, hope. As a result, they have both let the issue steamroll into an ugly example of tabloid politics ie. any publicity is good publicity. Who's running their campaigns? Paris Hilton?

There can be no doubt that there is a hunger to have a national dialogue about racism and the current status of the civil rights movement in America. No one, it seems, has quite yet figured out how to do that without inflicting casualties - real or metaphorical. It's a hypersensitive reality. Had both candidates grasped this opportunity to come together, despite the fact that they are currently political opponents in the race for president, they could have shown their country what they claim Democrats are capable of doing: ending division, working in partnership for the common good and taking on the tough challenges that face America. On that front, they failed miserably. But, for that to have happened, I suppose you'd have to hang your hat on the belief that Democrats really do stand for such ideals and, considering the extremely low approval ratings of the Democratic congress, it seems much of America hasn't bought the idea that they actually do and the politicians sure haven't acted like it.

What's happened this past week seems to be a reflection of the Democratic party itself: it talks the talk but just doesn't walk the walk when it really matters. And neither do Obama and Hillary. That, in the end, may be the final result of this chapter of this very public family feud. When you strip away the racism issue this has all been lurking behind, you find two people - the Democratic party's most recent stars - who have managed to garner a lot of attention and headlines but who, in the end, have shown very little talent for actually following through on whatever promise their portfolios advertized.

So, what's it going to be, you two (and the MSM that has played right along)? Coverage worthy of the Weekly World News or something a tad more substantial? Reading and encouraging sensationalist Batboy-style diversions might be entertaining but they don't do much to advance world peace, heal racial divides or to put food on the table, now do they?

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