Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Campaigns and Cartoons: When Superman Flies

How does a First World country fall on its face?  Let us count the ways.

First, as a US president who is also a published writer, Obama needs to cultivate media savvy.  He should not be seen bowing to kings of foreign lands.  This behavior undermines Americans’ image of their leader.  They established their republic by throwing off a king.  English or Saudi makes no difference. 
Second, Obama cannot appeal for support for his agenda like a rock singer wailing “if you love me….”  James Taranto quite rightly satirizes this rhetorical gaffe in “If You Love Me” for the Wall Street Journal.  See <>for the WSJ’s commentary on Obama’s interchange with his audience on September 14, 2011. 
Third, this President needs to declare fiats if he wants respect—and Rodney Dangerfield cannot be his role model.  A Commander-in-Chief does NOT plead with voters to support his agenda “if you love me.”  Instead, he issues endorsements or authorizations.                           .
His fiats—and there should be no confusion with a car model in delivery—must include the following:
1.       To Hollywood supporters:  Cut the drugs.  To quote a famous lunatic, “We’re all stocked up on crazy here.” 
2.       To Congressional porkers:  Cut the pork.  This budget needs to go on a diet, and greasy barbecue is OUT.
3.       To educators:  When students can read, write, and do math, call me.  Until then, take me off your speed-dial.
4.       To journalists:   Cut the cartoons.  This is NOT Saturday morning, and we are NOT children. 
5.       To social workers:  The President’s privileges include THE BULLY PULPIT.  And I do not want to hear one word about bullies and victims.  If you are waiting for Superman, you’re gonna have a long wait!
The most recent editorial by By Gloria Borger, CNN Chief Political Analyst (updated 12:08 PM EST, Wed September 21, 2011) draws these five points to a sharp focus.  As this network’s expert of experts, she writes commentary which supports her claims with not a single specific detail or number. 

What kind of audience heeds this kind of malarkey?  If she poses as a supreme analyst, she must demonstrate her knowledge of her subject.  Instead, she titles her analysis “Obama:  Clark Kent or Superman?”  She ends this same piece with the words “As for the rest of us, we're still Waiting for Superman. The real one.”

If this expert means to allude to a movie, she needs to say so outright.  But note to editorial writers:  Reality is not a movie.  Neither is it a cartoon.  At no point does this analyst reveal she makes the necessary distinction between fluff and rock-hard diamond. 

But there is a final calculation here,” she writes:   “if nothing comes out of the supercommittee, the president would be less damaged than the Congress.”  If calculations concern her, the reader should expect to see numbers here, but not one appears.

Does this commentator know math?  Does the American Congress?  How dare they flood a literate public with speeches containing no numbers while the educated know very well that the devil hides in the digits?  There are optional actions to perform with fingers.  One involves counting, but alternatives exist.  As they say in New York:  Go figure, PUHLEEZE! 

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