The Conservatives’ prayers have been answered and this year’s Presidential Election will ignore jobs, taxes, and wars and concentrate on an emotional wedge issue. On Thursday, May 10, 2012, the top headline on the front page of the New York Times was about the gay marriage issue and it was augmented by a “news analysis” on that very same topic.
Traditionally conservatives have preferred to use a highly charged tangential emotional issue rather than focus on problems that are integral to the lives and livelihoods of the voters.
Last weekend, this columnist went to the Oakland Museum of California to see “The 1968 Project” which is a traveling exhibition focusing on the social, political, and economic events of 1968 because we anticipated that it would provide a convenient frame for a column comparing and contrasting that year with the situation in this election year.
Jobs, fair and equitable taxation and necessary wars are complex issues that can confuse voters. Obviously both Republican and Democratic candidates want to offer the citizens a program that will reduce taxes, increase employment and preserve the peace, but both political parties can not make identical speeches. They have to achieve brand identity and loyalty for their message and their party. If they don’t; elections would seem like a variation on the Ford vs. Chevrolet debate.
Sales representatives (such as the one portrayed in the classical “Death of a Sales Rep” by Arthur Miller [Did you get the memo on the new politically correct title for that play?]) are always told to sell the sizzle and not the steak, so the two parties need an issue that will represent their “sizzle.”
If both Republicans and Democrats agree that taxes for the wealthy must be reduced or completely eliminated, then what’s to stop the voters from using a coin toss to make their choices?
If both parties know that the military industrial complex thrives on war, then the question is not whether to go to war or not; it is which wars can be sold as necessary for the protection of the citizens?
If the TV at night is clogged with ads urging addiction to products produced by the pharmaceutical industry, then wouldn’t it be hypocritical for Republicans or Democrats to denounce a cottage industry that offers an herbal product that promises similar miraculous medial results? Obviously the large companies would not want amateurs cutting into their profit margin anymore than a bootlegger would want his regular customers to spend their money on some locally produced bathtub gin.
During the Roaring Twenties did any American pundit go to a bar in Canada, Mexico, Great Britain, or Australia and ask the locals why their country didn’t outlaw booze?
Were jobs, taxes, and wars important during the Twenties? Was it easier to judge a politician on his stand for or against Prohibition or was it worth the effort to listen to some long and boring debate about the Smoot-Hawley Act? (“They say it could cause a depression!”) What about the Kellogg Briand Treaty and the London Naval Treaty of 1930? (“What do you mean pave the way for a new World War?”)
The Republican strategists love to frame the debate and set the agenda for the Presidential Elections and as Americans celebrate May 11, 2012, as Twilight Zone Day one only has to casually peruse the usual sources for contemporary political opinion to see that the “there you go again” assessment can be applied to the attention being paid to the issue of gay marriage this week.
On Thursday, May 10, 2012, a reconnaissance patrol on the Internets revealed that some gays were urging the Democratic Party to move the location for their National Convention out of North Carolina to somewhere else.
If they are successful in manipulating the Democrats into making such a change of venue, then many of the party’s management staff will be distracted from the Presidential race by the nuts and bolts decisions that will accompany such a maneuver; if they don’t make the change the gay activists will resent the “my way or the highway” attitude implicit in such an example of fascist control over the splinter group. Either way, the President will look bad and the Republican voters will have occasion to celebrate the success of the architect of their campaign strategy.
On Monday, August 5, the opening day of the 1968 Republican National Convention in Miami Beach, California Governor St. Ronald Reagan announced his candidacy for the Presidency. Was that a tad late in the primary season to make that announcement?
He had only been governor for two years. Was he rushing things?
Since many pundits are neglecting to point out that the focus on gay marriage would be a textbook perfect example of Republicans hijacking the national political debate, and that brings up another item that is being neglected in the age of meticulously scrupulous (?) punditry. Is there an ulterior motive which would explain the late date for the Republican National Convention this year?
Traditionally the period between the Conventions and the Labor Day weekend, are devoted to resting up from the primary campaign and concocting the specifics of the Presidential Election campaign, but since the Republican Convention is scheduled to begin on August 27 in Tampa Bay, that means that when it is over (presumably) by the end of the week, it will be the start of the Labor Day weekend and the “go for broke” Presidential Campaign.
Many of the journalists in the realm of national politics seem to prefer channeling the spirit of psychics such as Carnac the Magnificent, on election night and tell the audience what the voters were thinking and what it all means.
The World’s Laziest Journalist will buck the trend and offer readers a chance for some do-it-yourself analysis. What if some Republican decides to imitate the 1968 spirit of St. Ronald Reagan and announce on the Monday of the Republican Convention that he (in the spirit of breaking a deadlocked convention) would accept the Party’s nomination?
What if such a late last minute attempt were successful? If the convention ended and someone other than Romney was the Presidential Candidate, wouldn’t that leave the strategists for the Obama campaign in panic mode? Since the campaign would start on Labor Day, they would have just three or four days to reconfigure the President’s game plan for contenting with the new opponent.
After a week full of unexpected developments that has left the Obama team scrambling to reestablish an image of a confident leader who is in control, doesn’t it seem as if such a last minute new Republican Candidate would be well positioned to push the “Obama isn’t in command” meme on the voters?
There will be a surfeit of commentary available on the weekend after Twilight Zone Day full of near hysterical emotional examples of partisan mind-fuck and the World’s Laziest Journalist realizes that we could never add any noteworthy insights to the array that will be offered. We can, however, try to add a dash of uniqueness by asking about any ulterior motivation there might be for the long (smoke and mirrors) lull between the last primary election in June and the Convention which will fill the news hole during the last week in August.
This week has had other topics to distract voters such as the possibility of a new banking crisis, the controversial Time magazine cover photo, continued Occupy protests such as the looming confrontation between protesters and the University of California Berkeley administration, and the possibility of a change of venue for the Democratic National Convention, but it is very likely that the gay marriage issue will get the undivided attention of most pundits this weekend.
If the Republicans produce an unanticipated candidate in late August, could the confusion that would cause be compared to the consternation produced by the Tet Offensive?
[Note from the photographer: many museums have a rule against using flash. If you have to use available light, be sure to use something (such as a doorway) to brace the camera for the long exposure and take several shots.]
Walter Lippmann allegedly said: “Brains, you know, are suspect in the Republican Party.”
Now the disk jockey will play Pink Floyd’s “The Wall Album” for those folks who can’t get to San Francisco the night this column is posted (for their version of “Call to the Wall”), the Doors’ “The Doors” album, and the “Wild in the Streets” soundtrack album (from 1968). We have to go register for the draft. Have a “girls say ‘yes’ to guys who say ‘no’” type week.