i am finding it difficult not to get sucked into politics while i am here. two things that i read and saw this morning particularly resonated for me. one was barack obama’s explanation of his comments at a fundraiser about the bitterness of voters in places like pennsylvania, the other was a post by robert reich regarding the spin surrounding the comments.
and robert reich:
Listen to this morningÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Ã¢â‚¬Å“Meet the PressÃ¢â‚¬Â if you want an example. Tim Russert, one of the smartest guys on television, interviewed four political consultants Ã¢â‚¬â€œ Carville and Matalin, Bob Schrum, and Michael Murphy. Political consultants are paid huge sums to help politicians spin words and avoid real talk. TheyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re part of the problem. And what do Russert and these four consultants talk about? The potential damage to Barack Obama from saying that lots of people in Pennsylvania are bitter that the economy has left them behind; about HRCÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s spin on ObamaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s words (heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s an Ã¢â‚¬Å“elitist,Ã¢â‚¬Â she said); and John McCainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s similarly puerile attack.
Does Russert really believe heÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s doing the nation a service for this parade of spin doctors talking about potential spins and the spin-offs from the words Obama used to state what everyone knows is true? Or is Russert merely in the business of selling TV airtime for a network that doesnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t give a hoot about its supposed commitment to the public interest but wants to up its ratings by pandering to the nationÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s ongoing desire for gladiator entertainment instead of real talk about real problems.
WeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢re heading into the worst economic crisis in a half century or more. Many of the Americans who have been getting nowhere for decades are in even deeper trouble. Large numbers of people in Pennsylvania and across the nation are losing their homes and losing their jobs, and the situation is likely to grow worse. Consumers are at the end of their ropes, fuel and food costs are skyrocketing, they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t go deeper into debt, they canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t pay their bills. They arenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t buying, which means every business from the auto industry to housing to even giant GE is hurting. Which means theyÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ll begin laying off more people, and as they do, we will experience an even more dangerous downward spiral.
Bitter? You ainÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t seen nothing yet. And as much as people like Russert, Carville, Matalin, Schrum, and Murphy want to divert our attention from whatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s really happening; as much as HRC and McCain seek to make political hay out of choices of words that can be spun cynically by the mindless spinners of the old politics; as much as demagogues on the right and left continue to try to channel the cumulative frustrations of Americans into a politics of resentment Ã¢â‚¬â€œ all these attempts will, I hope, prove futile. Eighty percent of Americans know the nation is on the wrong track. The old politics, and the old media that feeds it, are irrelevant now.