Frank Rich writes a devastating article on American Politics. Tiger Woods masked his true self — a slimy, sexting philanderer — behind a glossy Nike image of a super charged athlete and family man. Rich writes,
As cons go, Woods’s fraudulent image as an immaculate exemplar of
superhuman steeliness is benign. His fall will damage his family,
closest friends, Accenture and the golf industry much more than the rest of us. But the syndrome it epitomizes is not
harmless. We keep being fooled by leaders in all sectors of American
life, over and over. A decade that began with the “reality” television
craze exemplified by “American Idol” and “Survivor” — both blissfully
devoid of any reality whatsoever — spiraled into a wholesale flight
Rich writes that American politicians from Cheney to Thompson to even Obama have marketed themselves to the American public. And we've bought it. How can we have been so gullible, he asks.
Rich could have thrown in the marketing of Sarah Palin and the Desiree Rogers comment about the Obama brand.
Packaging an American president is as old as George Washington's cherry tree story. Hell, it's older than that. Machiavelli devotes most of The Prince to a discussion about how a leader should craft his reputation and image. It's better to be feared than loved. It's better to be seen as thrifty, rather than generous.
Like Rich, I would like to think that we''re more sophisticated about facades and images than the chumps of Machiavelli's Florence. Didn't we live through Watergate and watch Camelot tumble? Don't we have YouTube and Google and fact checking bloggers? We should be able to lower our expectations and fine tune our BS barometers to know when we're being sold lies and when we're presented with the real thing.