Friday, May 02, 2008

guest post: our window

I know that this type of post can be found in various forms all over the internet on a daily basis, but I've got to get it off my chest all the same.

There I am, lying dead asleep this morning as the rain falls gently outside my window, when the dog (terrified thing that she is) tries to jump up and sleep on my face. I send her back to her own bed and am suddenly stricken with a kind of sadness that hits me from time to time when I start to think about the way that things are.

I realized that it has been weeks since I watched an Obama speech, and when you consider that the man is both a magnificent orator and a campaigning presidential candidate that can be a long time. It has been weeks since I thought anything positive about this race. And weeks since anything worthwhile has been covered.

We had a small window there that we probably should have made it a point to enjoy while it was open.

After the New Hampsire primary in early January, Barak Obama gave a speech that was so inspiring that it moved a number of high-profile artists to put it to music and create the kind of viral grassroots thing that shapes internet culture in a vast and dramatic way. It leaped forward into the mainstream media, and the political discourse moved significantly away from gossip, Bush bashing, and vacuous pontification and significantly towards a real discussion of how we as Americans can begin to reunite and re-influence this government in a real and positive way.

And the window was open.

And it stayed open for a remarkably long time, when you consider the forces that rushed to the sill and applied all of their collective weight to slam it back shut. Clinton called the speeches "empty" and mocked them. McCain and Romney subtly asserted that all democrats are terrorists and that we'll be overrun with car bombers and taxes if they succeed. The 24-hour cable news outlets collectively craned their necks and dug for more gossip to cover.

Together as a group they leaned on the window, trying to slam it shut. The light was still shining through it however, and the American people (who hadn't seen political sunlight in quite some time) weren't ready to just let it get slammed on them. They handed Obama multiple and sizeable victories, hung on every speech, and sent ratings of said speeches through the roof. The news outlets were forced to acknowledge this phenomenon and to cover it, but they hated it because they could not control it. In newsrooms across the country, news directors reluctantly broadcast speech after speech, waiting for something to break so that they could return to the inane gossip, biased punditry, and false outrage that steadies ratings and keeps food on their tables.

Then it happened. Sean Hannity, who automatically displays a loathing for any American with a D next to his name, pushed reverend Wright into the spotlight from his pulpit on the right wing of Fox News' stage. The media pounced, digging into the story that they had been waiting so patiently for. An endless loop of a 2 second clip still hasn't gone away.

When the video emerged the window neared the sill, and Obama himself walked over to try to keep it open. He gave a speech the likes of which I've never witnessed in my adult life, but then i wasn't around for Kennedy. He spoke honestly, directly, and sincerely. He treated Americans like adults, and the news outlets responded like children.

And just like that, the window was slammed shut the moment Obama walked off of that stage. It may open again, if Obama is allowed to discuss actual issues once again, but I won't be holding my breath.

1 comment:

el ranchero said...

A friend of mine explains the media's reaction to Obama as the inability to grasp how important this election is. They cover the nonsense and pass over the substance because they don't think this election is important enough to change their ways.

Personally, I think it's because they are too many forces that influence the media that are threatened by Obama. The fact is that the Republican party, which has a smooth and efficient machine for filtering stories via Drudge and FOX News is scared to death of Barack Obama, and not just because he can win an election but because he puts the entire West in play. Every time he opens his mouth, more people in Colorado and Montana and Nevada become convinced that the Democrats are a perfectly respectable alternative to the Republican party, further hastening the GOP's deterioration west of the Mississippi and the Democratic emergence there.

After all, why do you think the Democratic National Convention is in Denver this year?

The Bush Administration is afraid of him because an Obama victory is the ultimate repudiation by the voters. Electing a Democrat who is against the war? Ouch.

Many big businesses and establishment types are nervous about an Obama presidency because they think he's unpredictable. Not accepting registered lobbyist money is a pretty big deal, but it's much bigger that the guy can raise so much from small donors. It's not whether or not he accepts corporate cash in what form that bothers them so much as the fact that he doesn't need their money.

And, of course, Clinton, being his primary rival, can pull all sorts of strings in the media as well, as can her husband.