Genii Weblog

It's definitely the silly season in U.S. politics

Thu 28 Aug 2008, 06:46 PM

by Ben Langhinrichs
Both Democrats and Republicans get to about this point in the campaign and play an increasingly silly game of "gotcha" in which wild misinterpretations replace any real talking points.  For example, a woman at a town meeting went on a long tirade to John McCain about people in the military, and asked him if he agreed.  He was agreeable and said "Yes", without really focusing on the fact that one point in her tirade included supporting the draft.  Now, he is on record as not supporting a draft, but the liberal blogosphere has had a wild time accusing him of first saying he would support the draft and then flip-flopping.  Pure silliness!  Even if he should be careful about what he agrees to, it was a far, far cry from endorsing the draft.  

The Republicans have also been at it, with ever sillier claims about Barack Obama.  My favorite has to be the hoopla about how Barack Obama is "building a temple" to himself, and how it shows his ego that he would accept the nomination in front of columns "like a god".  You might be tempted to think this, but the following picture of George Bush accepting the nomination in front of similar columns shows just how silly the argument is.

Of course, the even more obvious reason for the set Barack Obama will use is that he is reproducing the scene where Martin Luther King gave his famous "I have a dream" speech, 45 years ago today.  Note those columns!

So, the set is not because of of some god-complex, but out of respect and honor for a cherished moment in history made more poignant by where Barack Obama is today.

You have to wonder what the silly season will bring next.

Copyright 2008 Genii Software Ltd.

What has been said:

705.1. Chris Whisonant
(08/28/2008 05:14 PM)

Here's a better picture of President Bush's acceptance speech in 2004:

There were just a handful of columns and nothing quite as elaborate as the Obama stage (if you're really honest about it)... Of course to fill up a rock arena/football stadium the stage needs to live up to the surroundings.

Here's one I found from 2000:

I think there was only a single column on either side. Here's another - but no columns visible:

And to say he's reproducing the MLK, Jr. scene? That's pretty far-fetched - I haven't seen that talking point yet... ;) MLK, Jr. wasn't posing or trying to emulate anyone else, either. He was truly history in the making and he stood for his convictions without saying anything was above his pay grade.

705.2. Chris Whisonant
(08/29/2008 05:19 AM)

Hmm, after seeing some highlights (was busy watching S. Carolina on ESPN...) looks like he wasn't attempting to mimic the MLK, Jr. stage but to make him appear presidential after the backlights came on.

705.3. Charles Robinson
(08/29/2008 06:43 AM)

"You have to wonder what the silly season will bring next."

[I formulated the following response while reading the original post in my feed reader. It was meant to be a tongue-in-cheek jab, so imagine my surprise when I clicked through to respond and exactly what I was going to post was already here waiting for me.]

Chris Whisonant, the consummate apologist for the Republican Party, will rush to Bush's defense and insist he never did anything like this while simultaneously denigrating Obama for doing the same thing. He will completely miss the sarcasm and irony being presented and take everything at face value and attack it on a point by point basis.

@Chris - I have tremendous respect for your technical ability, but your political point of view is about as opposite from mine as anyone's ever could be.

705.4. Chris Whisonant
(08/29/2008 06:51 AM)

Gee, thanks Charles - ditto.... :)

Did I attack it on a point by point basis? No. I actually gave a better image for Ben to use, if you'll look through the links. The only "attacking" I did here was to point out that I didn't think this was something Obama was doing to mimic MLK, Jr. Which, as it turns out, I was right about that.

705.5. Chris Whisonant
(08/29/2008 07:12 AM)

Nor did I say that he shouldn't have tried to make himself look presidential.

"executive office building" - try the White House... ;)

At least McCain didn't re-create the presidential seal! (sorry, burped on the kool-aid!)

705.6. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/29/2008 07:17 AM)

All sniping aside, and focus on "the small issues" aside as well, it was a heck of a speech. There are certainly policy arguments that could be made against Barack Obama's policy arguments, and honest disagreements about the proper size and use of government, political power and international presence. I hope those policy arguments are made, and are made as respectfully and directly as Barack Obama's. The biggest issue in this nation today, in my opinion, is not the role or size of government, nor the specific social or fiscal policies. The biggest issue is the fundamental loss of respect which leads to both sides pelting th other with rotten tomatoes rather than listening and discussing and debating, to both side belittling opponents with stereotypes and offensive names rather than keeping the policy divisions separate from the personal interactions.

Even if you don't agree with Barack Obama on almost any policy point, and even if you think his experience is too slight and his resume too thin, can you disagree with his contention that we are a better nation than we have been, that we all love out country, and that patriotism should not be an open question for either of these candidates?

705.7. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/29/2008 07:23 AM)

@Chris - Your comments reflect very poorly on you.

705.8. Greg Simmons
(08/29/2008 07:48 AM)

Me thinks Ben is a bit testy. There's nothing here other than observations. No need to be so defensive about the "packaging", unless you're worried that the "product" isn't what you thought it was. Buyer's remorse?

705.9. Chris Whisonant
(08/29/2008 07:52 AM)

I'm not sure where you're coming from on that one Ben. But I can take a hint when I'm not wanted, so I'll not comment any further. Feel free to stop by my blog, though, if you should ever desire to do so...

705.10. Ben Langhinrichs
(08/29/2008 07:58 AM)

@Greg - In what way am I being testy. Chris made a snarky comment about Presidential seals, which was even sillier given that a big part of the complaint about Obama's seal was that it included the eagle in th circle the way it did, and he posted it under a picture of McCain with a seal with the eagle inside the circle. These are both honorable men, and I am sick of the snarkiness. Why would that mean I have buyer's remorse? Barack Obama is an incredibly intelligent person, a strong and disciplined leader, and a forward thinker. I just think that Chris can come up with something better than recycled talking points about silly non-issues. John McCain and Barack Obama are both serious choices who have serious accomplishments. They have different strengths and weaknesses and very different policies. Why are we sniping about whether one guy's sign is more appropriate than the other's? Why are we arguing about the backdrop of the speech instead of the content? This entire post is about how ridiculous that sort of exchange is, and yet Chris doesn't seem to be able to resist. Thus, my comment.

705.11. Ben Langhinichs
(08/29/2008 08:02 AM)

@Chris - Come or go as you wish. Please refrain from re-opening minor "gotcha" talking points about either candidate. The whole Presidential seal furor was cooked up pseudo-contraversy. When I said your comments reflected badly on you, it was to that I referred, as well as to th earlier argument about whether George Bush had fewer columns or not. Please stick to something substanative.

705.12. Greg Simmons
(08/29/2008 08:29 AM)

@Ben IMO (not so humble that it is), you came across as overly sensitive, hedging on hyper-sensitive to any comments to the contrary.

705.13. Charles Robinson
(08/29/2008 11:26 AM)

@Greg - I don't think Ben is overly sensitive, I think he's simply over it. In a blog post that is a call to stop nitpicking over non-issues, to respond with a point by point rebuttal of those non-issues is asking for a slap upside the head. At the risk of being rude, Chris does this type of thing often. Instead of talking about issues he picks up the latest Fox News or Anne Coulter talking point that's utterly inane and meaningless.

I mean really, who cares about the seal being used? Some people get upset by pretty much anything. I care about what people stand for and how they intend to solve problems, and I think that's the point Ben is trying to make here. Everyone is so distracted by non-issues that we're not seeing the issues.