Tuesday, March 9, 2004

I'm George W. Bush and I approved this massage.

Did you see Capricorn One--the movie about the staged mission to Mars?  I looked it up, learned that it came out in 1978, that it got mixed reviews.  It was one of the only action movies on laser discs at the house of a childhood friend where I often slept over on Friday nights.  We watched Capricorn One probably thirty or forty times.  Thinking back, I can't remember anything about the quality of the movie (granted, I was nine or ten by the time we were watching it on disc).  But I do remember the premise: the mission to Mars was faked, and the government and the media were complicit in the scheme.  McLuhanesque, eh?

The movie has come to mind a time or two in recent months, reminders brought on by an actual Mars landing (it did happen, right?), the whole WMD spinabout (audio-taps detailing uranium transactions), and now, the launch of Bush's ad campaign.  Notably, his first ads are generating considerable hubbub because they make full use of staging and arrangement.  Because they're foregrounded by the President's voice making promises about his belief in the American people, there builds a complex problem of discernment: how much to believe.  I came across this from MSNBC (via I Know What I Know. I Sing What I Said.):

Another less-publicized aspect of the ad flap: the use of paid actors--including two playing firefighters with fire hats and uniforms in what looks like a fire station. "Where the hell did they get those guys?" cracked Harold Schaitberger, president of the International Association of Fire Fighters, which has endorsed John Kerry, when he first saw the ads. (A union spokesman said the shots prompted jokes that the fire hats looked like the plastic hats "from a birthday party.") "There's many reasons not to use real firemen," retorted one Bush media adviser. "Mainly, its cheaper and quicker." FULL ARTICLE

Cheaper and quicker, indeed. So how do we whittle out the believable, authentic bits from the spin? Of course, I don't find the ads the least bit compelling.  They're politically unmoving.  I watch them out of curiosity because they're defining pop culture and creating a media stir.  And they're funny.  I laugh aloud at the line, "I'm George W. Bush and I approved this message."  I know it's become a mantra of ownership among the leaders politic, but it's so flimsy.  Does it mean the Prez previewed the ad?  Revised its content?  Levied critical, reflexive input to its production?  Whatever the case, it's hard to regard it as serious, responsible and emblematic of the best national leadership we can drum up in '04.  Don't want to seem jaded, but voting is beginning to feel more like damage control than a championed, contributory process.

Bookmark and Share Posted by at March 9, 2004 9:08 PM to Slouching Toward

Your comments are right on target. As usual, the activities, inactivates and decisions of our fearless leaders tend to generate more questions than answers. Could it be that we have a government of the special interests, for the special interests and by the special interests? Unless we institute some meaningful campaign finance reform, we will continue to get leaders who have little interest in representing the voters.

I find it interesting that the apparent cornerstone of the Bush agenda is that of national security. With that thought in mind, what was the administration doing prior to 911? There has been evidence presented in the media that mid-level intelligence officials had been warning about the possibilities of such an occurrence prior to 911.

Recent media reports have indicated that the Bush administration has been uncooperative with the 911 investigation (check out unansweredquestions.org). If the administration was doing such a great job with national security, what do they have to hide?

As for me, maybe I'll vote for Ralph Nader again?


I tried to insert a link here to the unansweredquestions site, but for some reason it didn't work.

Posted by: pops at March 10, 2004 1:20 PM

Hey, Dad, I should've known this entry would convert you from a lurker to a commenter. Thanks for the note. Now the branches of the tree from which I haven't fallen far are in view. I have concerns that Nader will, once again, disrupt the partisan binary in a way that awards GWB the obtuse slice of voter-pie (mmm...pie...what kind would it be? I say mud or cow if the current admin retains power). And yet I'm not ultimately down on Nader for running because I see his persistent presence as a gesture toward a better form of democracy--triangularity is always preferable to either-ors. Maybe we could lobby for a neither-both election!

For what it's worth, I went in and activated your link to unansweredquestions.org. I oughta update EWM to the newer version of Movable Type, which, I hear, includes a fancier text editor for comments and entries.

Posted by: Derek at March 10, 2004 4:47 PM

I like Ralph Nadar, as do a lot of other people, however, I don't think the intelligent voter will make the same mistake twice. There have recently been letters to the editor in the Seattle Times regarding this issue. This country can't take another 4 years of GWB. Why doesn't Nadar run as a Democrat?

Posted by: Lin at March 11, 2004 9:08 AM

We'll find out soon enough whether Nader will defuse a November Bush ouster. I'd say Nader is too Libertarian and Greenish to dress the part of a good Democrat. I'm probably not putting it best, but I think there's too much partisan duty-dance to fit a fella like Nader into either side of our two-party system. In fact, for me, part of his appeal is his defiance of partisan censure--he's nobody's mouthpiece, and he skillfully dodges many of the unfortunate controls guiding our leaders like so many hard-to-see marionette strings.

Posted by: Derek at March 12, 2004 7:06 PM