Saturday, January 5, 2008

PoliTainment

Presidential candidate Mike Huckabee has been all over late night TV like a starlet promoting her first film - just not as dignified. At first I assumed my aversion to his appearances had to do with my distaste for his views but that's not it. I watch the debates, read coverage of them, watch the news shows - I've heard Huck the Schmuck spout his crap a million times. I take it in and continue to feel comfortable with who I plan to vote for.

What's buggin' me is the aura that's beginning to surround Huck on his journey toward stardom. And to think I was worried about Thompson's acting skills - such as they are. Huck is taking on such a folksy character - pictures of him before he lost 100 pounds, stories about how he lived in a trailer while the Arkansas governor's mansion was under renovation - he tells a joke about rush hour commuters "being late for work cause they were stuck behind the governor's mansion" Yucka Yucka Huck - you should be on Hee Haw!

In an interview about the Oscars and red carpet mania Craig Ferguson described show business as "high school with money" Is the presidential race a high school popularity contest with the fate of the world at stake!?

Late night TV is a dangerous arena - viewers are relaxed and entertained - and often sleepy. They watch likable candidates deliver one-liners into the grinning face of likable hosts. Even if one of them, usually David Letterman, asks a hard or pointed question it's quickly covered up by the next one-liner or the totally off topic story of how the candidate saved a puppy from drowning. Ahhh - the sleepy, laughing voter says - how sweet, what a nice guy, I think I like him.

Months ago Huckabee appeared on Jon Stewart's show and I liked him. He was open to Jon's questions - although Jon was soft that night. He talked about caring about children and was just so homey and comforting. I quickly forgot his name until he started popping up in the polls. I did some research - I wasn't prepared to hate him just for being a Republican - I really want that crap to stop. Took me about 30 minutes to be appalled by the guy and just about everything he stands for.

So here's what sends shivers up my spine. How many Americans do their homework? How many watch the debates? The actual debate - not the spin their favorite pundit puts on it. Am I worried that Americans are gullible? Yes! Am I sorry to say that many are lazy? Yes! Do I think too many will vote for the guy who they remember as being so folksy and funny on The Tonight Show? Yes!

And that scares me big time. It's fun to see the candidates play the instrument they took in high school or show up to be fake embarrassed by the pictures of them that Mom sent in. Shows another side of them - and that's fine. As long as that side has nothing to do with deciding if they can run a country and be the most powerful person in the world.

It's entertainment - and entertainment ain't real life.

16 comments:

Cherie said...

I agree that it's a mistake to decide one's vote based on the appearence on entertainment (as opposed to political) talk shows, be it Leno, Craig, or Dave. Your "buddy" [/sarcasm] is off to Dave's on Monday.

But as much as I am disturbed by Huckabee too, it was a great move by him as a politician to be on these shows. And he is hardly the first one to do it. I think that the benefit of the other man from Hope, our buddy Bill, appearing on Arsenio Hall, oh so long ago now, is immeasurable. Nobody except the folks from Arkansas knew who the hell he was. After that appearence, he was the cool guy who could play the sax.

It's risky. What if the people DON'T like what they see? I don't care how many times that Hillary on with Dave. I am never going to like her. She probably is going to do or say something that will make me like her less.

The reason that I was disappointed to see Huckabee in the line-up for Craig was that I was afraid that he would be wooden, and the conversation would be strained as he tried to walk the tightrope, so that no one could criticize him for a bad sound-bite. Would Craig be easy or hard on him? (I had forgotten about the citizenship thing or didn't realize that it was him.) I don't stay up to watch Craig to see something all "political". So, I was relieved and delighted with the way it turned out.

If it makes you feel any better, from what I'm hearing, he's probably going to bomb in New Hampshire. Exactly the thing that helped him in Iowa is killing him in NH. These things can change in an instant, but now it looks like he'll be lucky to make 3rd.

What probably won't make you feel better is that this country has made its presidential decisions this way since the beginning. Geogre Washington was picked more because he looked regal and looked impressive in a portrait. Andrew Jackson was a man of the people type. And who could look more cuddly than Theodore Roosevelt? Sometimes they turned out to be good presidents anyway ... sometimes not so much.

See, now I'm rambling. Please forgive me. ;)

Jay Simser said...

You are both "spot on." I am so disappointed in Iowa (and I live there) Some woman was quoted in the Des Moines paper that she was for Huckabee because he was against gay marriage. What a reason to vote for someone.

My nephew and I are democrats and were for Richardson. He changed at the Caucus to Clinton because of her record. He is 25 and studied the issues particularly the environmental issues (his field) and wouldn't switch to Edwards because of his poor record in that area. At least he studies all the issues.

Do you remember Gomer Pyle? (played by Jim Nabors) Huckabee reminds me of him. What scares me the most about him is his religion. Almost as much as Romney's does. But what scares me about all of them is that they all will say or do anything to get elected and instead of showing us how to solve problems they seem to want to scare us into voting for them

We mostly go through life taking the easiest path we can without much thought. I am so glad to have found some thinking friends on the Internets. j

Dianne said...

Cherie - Jay - you two are also both spot on. I am interested in how Huck does in NH. And yes, Jay - Gomer Pyle is a wonderful comparison.

It's not so much Huck as it is the whole likable = electable. As I said in the post, so many just never gave up high school - or literally didn't finish LOL

I adored Bill on Arsenio but STILL I researched what he actually stood for.

Minnesotablue said...

Hi! I came over from magnetbabes website. I am scared to death of Huckleby He comes across as so down to earth, folksy and just a "normal" kind of guy. Lest we all forget, he is a southern baptist minister who has preached hateful things about gays and other who don't conform to his rigid standards. Hopefully he will lose big in New Hampshire but then we have to worry about Carolina. If he does win the nomination, I hope some of his sermons will be brought up for all to hear

Michael Manning said...

A good point, Dianne! I side with Lou Dobbs when he says "Don't we deserve a government that works?" As a former reporter I make it a point to go on EVERY candidates website. More should do so.

Dianne said...

Hi minnesotablue! thanks for stopping by - you're next on my "Jeni list" LOL - she speaks very highly of you.

and yes Michael - we all should do our homework - it's THAT important - and open our minds - I read all sides of issues - not just the ones I agree with - a friend uses this quote often
"I never learned anything new from someone I agreed with"

Theresa said...

Michael makes a great point, which should be obvious- however I bet at least 60% of the public does not bother reading the platforms of the hopefulls- so that is why politics is now showbusiness.

Jeni said...

Very good -and very timely -post. I saw Hucklby (loved Minnesota Blue's name) on Craig's show and while he was "entertaining" enough, I kept hearing echoes in my mind - DUBYA, DUBYA, DUBYA - they kept shouting at me. The ONLY candidate I have ever liked who wore his religious beliefs on his sleeve, so to speak, was Jimmy Carter. The rest of 'em all see to phony-baloney about it for openers to me. Should be a personal, not a public thing -not for general consumption, in my opinion. Fine if you believe one way in that aspect and I, another - but ne'er the two should meet in the political arena where a vote is cast strictly based on religion. Wonder if my saying this will get people trying to "reform" my thought processes about some aspects. I don't trust anyone with the southern Baptist type tenets especially where pro-choice and issues about gays are concerned. They tend to hit me as also probably believing women should all be "barefoot, in the kitchen and pregnant" too.

Jeni said...

Oh - one more thing I forgot in my fervor of the above comment -I worked with a lady once who made her decisions about political candidates strictly on their appearance. She was ready to vote for Gary Hart simply because she thought he was "so handsome" -another "friend" operated a lot in the same vein and all I could think of was "women went to jail to give YOU the right to vote and you treat it this way?"

Dianne said...

theresa - you're right - it should be obvious and sadly it is not. the emotional dumbing down of America is so widespread and so sad and dangerous.

jeni - I have a friend who does the same thing! what amazes me is how people who go on and on about terrorism and protecting our freedoms then don't exercise the number one freedom - voting. then again, considering how some of those folks think maybe it's good they don't vote. I am excited to see so many young people involved in Obama's campaign - that's hopeful.

Plain(s)feminist said...

YES! Huckabee comes across as just the nicest guy ever, and he probably is, but he also has the most frightening (maybe Fred is worse?) political positions of any of the candidates. It terrifies me to think of all the people who are likely to vote for him based on the likability factor.

And - good to meet you, Dianne!

Cherie said...

Jeni, I'm not going to try to "reform your thought processes," but I am going to suggest that generalizing about ANY group, including Southern Baptists, is just as closed-minded as you imply that Southern Baptists are. And the idea that they all think that women should be in the kitchen, barefoot, and pregnant is ludicrous.

And for the record, I will formally state that I'm neither a Mike Huckabee supporter nor a Southern Baptist.

Dianne said...

I agree that generalizing about any group limits our conversation and divides us. I meant what I said in the post about not wanting to dislike Huckabee just for being a Republican - it's so much more delightful to dislike him for what he says and does :)

My only personal experience with southern baptists is my ex-husband's church - both in SC and NY - the sermons often revolved around the horrors of divorced people, unwed mothers, the "ugly perversion of homosexuals" - keep your children away from them, they should not be part of a "Christian community" - swear, can't make this up.

Huckabee says very similar things in, of course, his folksy political speak and often uses the banner?, cloak?, of his church - notice I say church, not religion - I think all religions have the fanatics and the genuine. It would be wonderful if some of the genuine would speak up when Huckabee turns so many off to their religion.

I love that we can all speak freely here and hope that we continue to do so.

We can learn a lot from each other and that in itself defeats the Huckabees of the world.

Lisa said...

Wow! What a wonderful post, Dianne, followed by very thoughtful, well constructed comments.

I have to wonder (and worry) about the same thing as far Huckabee. As you and others here have said, there are a lot of folks out there who vote for candidates based soley on appearance or from "PoliTainment" (great word), the small clips and sound bytes that flash across their television screens. Or worse yet, from the ads that candidates and special interest groups put out, which are so full of misinformation.

But, while it takes work to be an informed voter, and many Americans are just too lazy to bother, I'm hoping that there is enough at stake this time around to push people to become more savvy political consumers.

Am I deluded about this?

Dianne said...

"Am I deluded about this?"

Well - if you are then I'll be deluded right along with you.

Lisa said...

We can only hope--and inform. :-)