Style Over Substance

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If I may offer my own opinion (and even if I may not), I would begin by saying that our society is rooted in a culture that values style over substance. (There’s a bold statement, eh?!?!) We only have ourselves to blame.

Some like me would say that style-over-substance is the only explanation for how Ronny Ray-Gun, Slick Willy, Dumb-ya and even Obama got elected. Yes, even Obama. He was the right guy with the right message and right delivery at the right time. It’s refreshing to have a president who speaks in complete sentences and doesn’t come off like some dumb ass cowboy who fell out of his saddle one too many times….or in W’s case, who has all the right power-base genes but the intellect of a toaster oven.

Frankly, 2 turds could have beaten any GOP ticket considering how bad W screwed things up. That and the fact that the best the party of Lincoln could come up with was a near-senile ex-maverick and a brainless windbag ex-beauty queen who doesn’t read a single newspaper and seems pretty proud of her ignorance. The GOP deserved to lose. Some, including me, would cast them – McCain, mostly – in the role of sacrificial lamb. Hell, let’s face it. After W’s 8-year debacle a GOP ticket of Jesus Christ and Ayn Rand still would have lost.

One thing I think we might all agree on is that “style” has taken over substance. “Style” when it comes to leaders and especially presidents is overrated. I’ll bet “style” isn’t exactly the first adjective that comes to mind when we think about Nixon, Carter, or George Herbert. Not that any of them were particularly great leaders. Damn, now that I started on this path I have to admit that they all sucked, too. They sucked *AND* had no style. What a trio of losers, eh? Carter, of course, is my favorite among the three but that’s only because of what I’ve learned about GHWB and Jimmy since they left office.

I wonder if any of us will live long enough to see the voting public mature as a society to a point where we focus on facts, the issues, and policies and forget the rhetoric and hyperbole. Sadly, I suspect not. My hope still rests with my children’s generation. Ironically, it seems simultaneously easier and harder to fool the digital generation. Clearly, we have done nothing but screw things up royally.

Speaking of screw ups, what a freak show 2012 promises to be if you real Republicans finally and completely surrender your party to the lunatic fringe nut-jobs and Palin is your candidate. If that happens, I can only hope Inhofe or maybe her fellow Faux News celeb, Huckabee, is her running mate. Wwooooooooo-doggies!!!! We’re gonna’ have us one big ol’ Meet the Kardashian-type media circus campaign, you betcha!!! Break out the grizzly jerky and the Good Book, and let’s have us some drilling in the ANWR, deportation of anyone who even resembles a Latino, and teaching Creationism in public schools! Hell, let’s just have us one big ol’ full blown Christian Taliban White House!! If you ain’t a white, heterosexual, god-fearing, conservative, lifetime member of the NRA, and deeeee-vout Christian, well then, you’re a commie pinko tree-huggin’ fagot socialist and we’re gonna’ show you the door!

You know us middle-class whites – any chance we get to piss on someone below us on the socio-economic ladder and we’ll whip it out just to prove that our lord god and savior, Ronny-boy, was right about trickle down!

Enough of that. It’s hyperbole, and I’m sure it pisses some of you off. Sorry, but it serves to make the point. We have ourselves to blame.

The media is about eyeballs and advertisers. You’ve heard it from me before. The media focuses on the president’s emotions or lack thereof because that’s what we care about and will watch. We don’t care about real leadership. Hell, most Americans wouldn’t know what that was if it slapped us squarely in the face. When we think of leadership we think of Ben Rothlisberger or Kobe Bryant or John Wayne. We don’t think about intelligence and intellect. We don’t think about careful contemplation, consequences, inclusion, or long-term consideration for the common good and the general welfare. We certainly don’t seem to think about the truth or facts about anything unless, of course, they appear to fit our preconceived notions, beliefs, and desires for what we want and wish the world to be.

What other explanation is there for the ridicule from some quarters of sources like PolitiFact, FactCheck, Snopes, and other unbiased resources?

What other reason can there for Obama’s handlers and his political opponents alike to make so much about his “kicking some ass” comments? One side claims it demonstrates his toughness while the other sees it as an indictment of him and his leadership while ogres like Cheney telling legislators to go f*** themselves and that chimp W’s stupid flip of the middle finger to a camera like some delinquent ninth grader gets a pass. Oh, then there’s that whole inconvenient torture thing, but, hey, we’re Americans! We can do whatever the hell we want, whenever the hell we want, and to whomever the hell we want because…………well, that’s the bully’s prerogative.

So, coming from a self-proclaimed flaming liberal, the real crime is that we citizens don’t stop and take the time to ask real questions or do our own homework. There simply is, IMHO, no other rational explanation for why things are as they are. We are complicit in the dumbing-down of America, the media, and American politics. Only we can change that. Nothing could have convinced me more of that than seeing a tea party rally with my own eyes.

I don’t care that they hate Obama, I really don’t. Like most hate, it’s out of ignorance. What I care about is that the media pays any attention at all to this lunatic fringe and their lunatic demigod, Queen Sarah. Sharron Angle? Are you effing kidding? How does someone like that rise to any more prominence than with a bunch of local snake handlers without the media and our moth-like reaction to follow the light?

Every second of attention paid by the media to the tea party movement confers a mistaken and misguided sense of credibility they do not deserve and can only win with an uneducated, uniformed portion of the populace who thinks their values are being echoed when all they really are is more fodder for the movement. Moths to the flame; eyeballs to the advertisers.

I get the frustration, I really do. We all have some. But what I saw on July 3rd in my proverbial backyard was the basest elements of what I thought was a democratic society. These people don’t care about democracy. They pay it lip service. They don’t care about facts or the truth. Listen to their speakers. What they want is a segregationist’s America, complete with discrimination against anyone who isn’t a god-fearing white face like themselves. What they want is a white man back in the White House; preferably a good Episcopalian, Presbyterian, or Methodist, and in a pinch, a Baptist. No matter what, anyone with a name like Barak Hussein Obama is obviously a Muslim, probably isn’t a citizen, and is for sure just a little too tanned for the liking of good ol’ fashioned baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet Americans, goddammit.

And we have ourselves and our feeding of the media-beast to blame for all of this. Why else would the president’s emotions – real or staged – seem to get more attention than what caused the disaster in the Gulf and what we’re going to do as a nation and as a people to make sure this never, ever, ever happens again anywhere, not just in the USA?

Must be because what we value most is style over substance.

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