Tuesday, February 12, 2008

political narrative

I'm watching the 60 Minutes interviews with Clinton and Obama, and while they're longer and more detailed than most Today Show and Daily Show blurbs, they still play out the same: He laughs politely at the presumptuous questions, a voice-over narrates his whisper-in-Springfield-to-a-movement campaign; She respectfully defends her experience and abilities against the sudden and increasing threat of new charisma and Hope, until finally a familiar defensiveness is established and it seems the reporter has become her opponent. Obama's interview is a conversation, while her's verges on interrogation.

And while Obama's interview focuses on his campaign, Clinton's focuses on ... his campaign.

Is it media bias, or is Clinton so thoroughly uncharming that she's incapable of carrying her own narrative? Does the president need a narrative, or is this personal fairytale we look for in Obama disconnected from the ability to be a strong leader? The only way I can account for G W Bush's appeal is his comfortably low-brow persona. Disregarding platform, is electing Obama on charisma, mixed-race heritage, and a big smile comparably ignorant to electing Bush based on down-to-earthiness, political heritage, and an easy laugh?

But it degrades Obama's true potential and ability to reduce him to a megawatt smile and hope, etc. In an era when everyone, everyone, is rallying for change, maybe the point is not to elect someone with the most popular opinions or the most skill, but a competent someone who is in essence clearly distinct from our last 20 years of Bushes and Clintons. Her sameness goes beyond her last name, and her gender is not enough to make her truly different.

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