Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Hearing from the Average Joe

Now, YouTube is an excellent case study in the malformation of public knowledge on the issues of the day. As a modern political candidate, you have to understand the risks of sending the untrained, uneducated in front of the camera to talk for your campaign. Unfortunately, McCain has now done this twice. First it was Sarah Palin. Now, it's "Joe the Plumber." The result:

Audience Question: "I've heard that if Obama became president, that would be the end of Israel"
Joe: "I would have to agree" (unqualified)

Later on Fox News:
Shep: "Obama has said that Israel will always be a friend to the United States"
Joe: (paraphrased) "Yeah, I'm hoping your viewers can understand what I was trying to say"

Later still on Fox: Tito the Builder on Hugo Chavez

Now, I'm not saying that people are stupid, that someone like Joe the Plumber doesn't have anything of great import to say, or that in another world, someone like Joe the Plumber shouldn't be center stage in political struggle. What I do believe is that the discursive life of the United States is in such a sorry state that it feels like any attempt at substantive, public dialogue among regular people (Joe the Plumbers) with differing opinions on crucial issues would be at minimum, two ships passing in the night; at worst a performance of opposing commercials.

No comments: