Maggie Gallagher recently wrote about the power of the image in the current political race. She applauds Barack Obama for his mastery of the management of that image, and observes how it is hurting John McCain, who is more focused on substance.
“Poor John McCain. He’s so last-century. Still living in a world in which deeds matter, policies matter, what you would actually do with the power entrusted to you matters.”
For Obama’s part, the management of the image is strategical smart, politically smart.
What else could you do if you were “a lightly accomplished one-term senator, a former state legislator from Illinois, a Harvard law graduate who has no substantive record of accomplishments, and you are running against a war hero whom polls show that Americans overwhelmingly view as far more fit to be commander in chief?”
Gallagher claims is all theater: “The man who would be president of the United States of America flies around the world in the middle of a political campaign, enlisting the U.S. military and the Berlin Wall as free campaign commercial backdrops, to lend him the emotional weight and substance — the aura as a commander — that he hasn’t yet earned on his own.”
Even his in-depth interviews are show. According to accomplished journalist Andrea Mitchell, “they are what some would call ‘fake interviews,’ because they are not interviews from a journalist.” Unlike McCain, who is wide open to the press, Obama doesn’t even travel with a press pool. Everything is scripted.
Unfortunately, real life isn’t scripted. Obama may try to push us to “a Brave New World where highly paid symbolic analysts construct reality by manipulating symbols,” but if he is elected, he will quickly find out how uncoperative the rest of the world is, at our peril.