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  • « Hillary's 'bitter' faux pas | Main | ACLU audits H & R Block »

    April 14, 2008

    Dumbing down politics by sound-bytes

    Posted by: Andoni

    I hate 30-second sound-bytes in politics. I would argue that they don’t serve America well, but I also realize there’s not much I or anyone else can do about it. Unfortunately, these snippets of information and opinion have become a big part of our political discourse and often determine who is elected president. I would blame sound-bytes from giving us George W. Bush, for example, rather than Al Gore.

    The most recent example of how sound-bytes serve the public poorly is from San Francisco, where Barack Obama told supporters that he encountered "bitter" people in small town Ohio and Pennsylvania who were "clinging" to guns and religion because of their difficult economic situation.

    That sound-byte from San Francisco does not reveal the depth with which Obama has thoughtfully considered this issue.  He made the same point in a more detailed way in an interview with Charlie Rose back in 2004, expressing his compassion for how many small town workers have lost their jobs and benefits. It is disingenuous for John McCain or Hillary Clinton to claim that's some form of elitism.

     Obama's comments back in 2004 took several minutes to walk through. He was saying that workers in small towns who have lost their jobs, benefits and insurance are bitter about it and gravitated toward other activities they have long enjoyed and felt a part of, getting support from church or hunting with buddies. It’s the very same position only more artfully said, and said in a way the most people taking the time to listen will learn what is in this man’s heart and what he believes.

    The question is whether YouTube and the Internet have helped us evolve to the point we can get around these sound-bytes to see for ourselves the full statement or what a person’s position really is? Are we seeing the dawn of a new era of politics don't rely on the 30-second bytes the MSM chooses for them?

    For America’s sake, let’s hope so. The results next Tuesday in Pennsylvania will offer some indication.

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    Comments

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 14, 2008 5:27:37 PM:

      Nice thesis, except that Barack Obama is *master* of the sound bite.

      His campaign used it to tar Gerry Ferraro as a racist. His campaign used it to attack the other Democrats and John McCain as well.

      Barack Obama's meteoric rise is a result of his complete lack of substance and excellent skill in crafting articulate, easy-to-consume soundbites.

      He cannot now complain that there's a lack of depth in the campaign, and that the substance is being overlooked, when he himself created and nurtured that very dynamic to get where he is today!

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 14, 2008 5:37:02 PM:

      Another reason why we didn't get to hear more than a sound bite or two is because Obama made his condescending, elitist remarks about Pennsylvanians at an invitation-only fundraiser on Billionaire's Row in San Francisco, where only the most wealthy of San Francisco's liberal elite were invited.

      Fortunately, some Common Folks managed to get photographs of the event, held at the sumptuous San Francisco mansion of the Getty family (replete with stretch limos and police cordon's for the attendees):

      http://www.zombietime.com/obama_visits_billionaires_row/

      This is the "substance" of the Obama campaign. Nasty comments about the dumb hicks of Pennsylvania uttered inside the gilded mansions of the wealthiest people in America. That's the "change" and "new politics" that Obama represents.

    1. Tim on Apr 14, 2008 7:29:27 PM:

      Heaven forbid that politicians be pointed out as overly preachy sanctimonious hypocrites, and by their opponents no less. He is just a man Andoni, no need to expend time defending his words. This is no different than Hillary using a country drawl, or McCain caring about (ridiculous) global warming issues.

    1. mike/ on Apr 14, 2008 8:46:15 PM:

      exactly how could you have written this post right after your previous sound-byte post "Hillary's 'bitter' faux pas?

      just asking...

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Apr 14, 2008 11:44:06 PM:

      Andoni -

      You are correct that sound bytes do not serve us well. Political issues are often complex and should not be dumed down to three word catch-phrases.

      That said, I don't think this Obama flap is an issue of "sound bytes" so much as just an inartful choice of words. He goofed, it happens, people will get over it.

      All politicians occasionally say the wrong thing or make some kind of public gaffe. Obama is still the best candidate for president -- not just on GLBT issues, but on all major issues.

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 15, 2008 10:05:53 AM:

      It wasn't an issue of sound bites -- rather, it was a revealing slip of the tongue that betrayed Obama (and his billionaire buddies') true contempt for Pennsylvania's working people.

      There's no spinning around it. There's a pattern of contempt -- for GLBT people and working class people alike.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Apr 15, 2008 10:54:34 AM:

      There's a pattern of contempt -- for GLBT people and working class people alike.

      Barack Obama has never shown "contempt" for GLBT people or anyone else. As I said above, this whole "cling to guns and religion" thing was just a gaffe. Get over it.

      I also note that tour criticism of Senator Obama is unduly harsh. It seems you don't like him simply because he's the popular kid on the playground and your guy, George Phillies, isn't.

      Also, I've checked out your blog and am troubled by statements I think are either outright lies or an attempt to take some fact and spin the hell out of it to make it sound bad (e.g [Obama is] "advocating segregation for gay Americans," posted by you on the Outright Libertarian blog on April 3, 2008). Obama has never ever, even once advocated for segregation of gays. This is just a false and vicious lie as far as I can tell --if you can show me otherwise, please do.

      Your anti-Obama rhetoric is hollow and you come off sounding a tad bit "out there." If your goal is to persuade, try a thoughtful post with a calm tone. It may work better for you than hyperbole and fake facts.


    1. Kary on Apr 15, 2008 12:23:22 PM:

      Brian Miller has an agenda and doesn't let the truth interfere with it. Just like George Bush. Bet you anything he's one of those gay Republicans....JFH's...Jews for Hitler. Obama is going to be the next president. Get over it. Or not.

    1. Andoni on Apr 15, 2008 12:39:40 PM:

      Brian, I've seen some virulent anti-Obama comments from you. And if I'm not mistaken I've seen some equally nasty anti-Hillary comments. So I was wondering if you could explain to me who you support for president and why and how this person can change things for your personal situation or your set of priorities?

    1. Brian Miller on Apr 15, 2008 1:16:38 PM:

      I've checked out your blog and am troubled by statements I think are either outright lies or an attempt to take some fact and spin the hell out of it to make it sound bad (e.g [Obama is] "advocating segregation for gay Americans," posted by you on the Outright Libertarian blog on April 3, 2008). Obama has never ever, even once advocated for segregation of gays.

      Sure he has.

      Barack Obama has declared that he is in favor of civil unions, not marriage equality. By advocating a "separate but equal" arrangement for gay people, Barack Obama is an advocate of segregation, plain and simple.

      Your anti-Obama rhetoric is hollow and you come off sounding a tad bit "out there.

      This is an interesting tactic by the Obama campaign. Their candidate has long maintained a close relationship (including a senior role on his campaign staff) with a preacher who refers to the USA as the "US of KKKA," who said that the 9/11 attacks "woke up whites that there are still people of color out there" and who screams "God Damn America."

      Then they have the, ehrm, *audacity* to accuse others of "sounding out there." ;)

      Bet you anything he's one of those gay Republicans.

      I don't need to bet you're a useful idiot, however -- you've proven it in a single sentence for me.

      I've seen some virulent anti-Obama comments from you.

      There's nothing virulent. The comments are factual, something that annoys Obama supporters.

      At no time have they ever risen to anything resembling "virulence" (unlike, say, the post I just quoted attacking me as a Republican and a "Jew for Hitler.")

      I was wondering if you could explain to me who you support for president and why and how this person can change things for your personal situation or your set of priorities?

      I've already documented, several times, who I'm supporting for president.

      However, I don't operate under the delusion that a presidential candidate can "change things for my personal situation or set of priorities."

      This is the entire point about Obama that I've made from the beginning. All of his followers, who worship at his church and talk about "change," are making him into a messiah when there's no basis for that.

      Barack Obama does not have a history of achievement of even minor policy goals. His entire record is as a do-nothing senator. He'll happily take your cash (and the cash of the limousine liberal crowd), but at the end of the day, he'll continue doing what he does best -- giving speeches and doing nothing.

      The truth hurts, but it needs to be said.

    1. Kary on Apr 15, 2008 1:36:48 PM:

      Brian Miller is a schill for the Republican party. Like those Black talking heads they paid to be pro-Bush. Please. Or that gay hustler Jeff Gannon, with a mysterious White House press pass, and comings and goings at odd hours.

    1. Strict Scrutiny on Apr 15, 2008 3:57:56 PM:

      By advocating a "separate but equal" arrangement for gay people, Barack Obama is an advocate of segregation, plain and simple.

      Brian, the term "segregation" refers to what African-Americans in this country experienced pre-1964. They were forced to use separate public accommodations, use separate entrances, were prohibited from visiting "all-white" establishments, had to sit at the back of the bus, etc.

      To say that Barack Obama supports segregation for gay people is false and utterly slanderous. For example, he has never suggested that gay people should be forced to use different public bathrooms than straight people. Nor has he suggested that AIDS patients be quarantined, as Mike Huckabee did in the early 90's. Nor has he advocated for any type of Jim Crow law to be applied to gay people.

      By equating Barack Obama's position on marriage vs. civil unions to "segregation" you undercut your own credibility. The thought is laughable. Wise up, Brian, and crack open your old history books.

    1. North Dallas Thirty on Apr 15, 2008 6:58:13 PM:

      Be careful, Brian Miller; if you don't do what they say and stop criticizing Obama, they're going to say that you're a racist who wants to "lynch the uppity nigger", not just a "Jew for Hitler".

      Of course, the irony is that these same Obama supporters demand that you produce a "thoughtful post with a calm tone" while they're spewing names and bile.

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