Tuesday, August 26, 2008

George W Bush and Obama: Flight suits and making a Hollywood President (part 1 of 3)

It's a maxim in politics that people elect their leaders based on personality not policy. I would offer "narrative" is more powerful as it packages and predigests both elements for its audience. Whether this is harmful or not is another matter.

Much has been made about the harm of ubiquitous media, the 24 news cycle and the 5 second soundbite. The constant barrage of information, otherwise light and inconsequential only gain weight once coalesced into a larger narrative. Most of the overriding narratives are created by the media, forwarding digestable storylines for the casual and hurried observer. The negative ramifications of this is what conservative talker Rush Limbaugh derisively refers to as "The Drive by media". Narratives are also created by political opponents. Creating memes by consolidating isolated storylines to paint a candidate as being a "goofball", "elitist", "pretty boy", "French", or "cold".

Then there are the narratives the Candidates themselves create. This is what I'd like to focus on. Much has been made of Barack Obama's rise to prominence. In the early stages of his campaign, Obama seemed impervious to attack as he positioned himself as being post-partisan, after entering the national stage with a charming narrative invoking humble beginnings and the American Dream. In recent weeks Obama's campaign has gone through turbulence as conservative talkers have jujitsued Obama's pollyannaish script. Sean Hannity has taken to calling Obama a 'Hollywood production'. On his show Hugh Hewitt exposes Obama as Prompter Dependent, highlighting that Obama is a creation built on stagecraft and speeches but ultimately hollow away from the script.

This year's Presidential election can be summed up as two competing narratives - The transcendent historical candidate VS the American hero. A continuation of the Hollywood presidency of George W Bush...

continued in part 2 of 2>>

1 comment:

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