The presidential campaign is meal ticket for so many.
Consider the interested: photographers, cameramen, makeup people, vetted reporters, TV crews, media consultants, campaign managers, both political parties, balloon artists, button and sticker makers, a lighting and audio-visual crew, stage and set builders, advertising firms, political action committees and the high-flying donors, hotel providers. The election industry is an appreciably big part of the US economy.
The Shakespearean soothsayers were serving up their blandishments at maximum capacity after Wednesday night’s ‘debate’. The same people who proclaimed Romney’s campaign as irretrievably over and dead by its own hand (after the 47% gaffe) are now thunderstruck by his resilience. Drama queens is an understatement…what is it with these people?!
Leigh Ann Caldwell of CBS News has called it ‘Romney’s media afterglow’.
Journalists inside the Washington beltway were unanimously flummoxed by Obama’s weak performance and Romey’s Reaganesque flair on stage.
Republican pollster Frank Luntz said polls are already showing uncommitted Republicans have jumped aboard.
What passes for ‘debate’ in presidential politics is no such thing. If you tuned in, what your senses were greeted with was a large sound-stage erected entirely for the convenience for TV cameras and the press. An extremely neutral moderator, Jim Lehrer, then queried each representative and set the echo-chamber in operation.
The candidates wear opposite coloured ties to signify competition.
‘Social Media’ (a deplorable term; is their a non-social media?) has been effusive and unforgiving to the moderator Jim Lehrer, who moderated very little. He came out of retirement for this thing even after writing a book on why after doing 11 debates between 1988 and 2008 he would never do it again.
But coaxed he was. Why you ask? Because deviation from conventional patterns is not a virtue in the election industry. In the 1980s, Reagan was incurably senile and never gave an unscripted speech while in Washington. (The Reagan-Mondale debates are forgettable and uninspiring). President G.W. Bush was far too witless and encumbered by stupidity to really debate in the real sense of the term. There is something choreographed about these ‘debates’ and Lehrer knows the steps.
What occurred? Lehrer lets each candidate spout their own personal versions of utopia, unchallengeable and unverifiable. Derived from focus group studies, the key words and hot-button issues like ‘middle-class’ and ‘jobs’ are then uttered. A litany of stats are presented, each more banal than the last. Unfalsifiable claims for the future are mouthed off like warring semi-automatics. Who know if any of those are true? And now the entrenched interests of journalists, who love the expense-account life, have conversation matter than is equal in substance to an ape’s bum-fodder to last until the next ‘debate’.
The election industry comes to town and checks their bags in four-star hotels. Its clubland time again, journalists acquaintances rekindle in the hotel bars, the gossip stays euphonious throughout the night in the restaurants. Group-think descends upon this community who energize and give air-time to the Hollywood style of politics.
This industry is a hermetic world as if journalists, pundits, pollsters, political parties and media relations personnel exists entirely unto themselves. The media commissions and publishes its own opinion polls. They gave unhindered space to political parties that offer up huge sacks of ready-cash for advertising, and get the interviews so long as they are properly suitable to the image of each candidate. Its a battle for ratings, not ideas. This is the very definition of ‘post-modernism’.
The poll-men then employ precognition to show us the future. They are election oracles. The Electoracles. This or that opinion poll is the instrument from which the the gods of democracy speak. A bounce in the polls for Romney after the debate! Time for the journalists to get to work on this story…
The glitz of camera flashes, the perfectly positioned corporate regalia, the lurid imprimatur of the sponsors all have a consensus-forming tendency, where ‘partisanship’ is a dirty word. The ‘debate’ is the Washington consensus-election industry symbiosis at its most sparkling and immaculate.
Then everyone folds their tents and caravans away to the next camera-friendly fun time. Can American democracy be saved?