Bamboozled

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
from truth.

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.

6 thoughts on “Bamboozled

  1. “Obama’s brilliant presidential campaign …. a marketing scam designed to camouflage either his covert anti-American radicalism (as the right sees it) or spineless timidity (as the left sees it).”
    Jeez, do I have to choose?

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  2. I don’t know. I have never understood the desire to idealize. People have pluses and minuses–big whoop. But there is a deep need in humans to believe people are all good or all evil.
    I know many people hated the movie Crash, but the thing that really moved me about it was its portrayal of how someone “evil” could turn around and do something profoundly good and vice versa. All those internal contradictions are within us all, but we deny them.
    And this goes back to the comment thread on fixed worldviews, I guess, huh.

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  3. I’m thinking that at least some capacity to delude yourself about leaders is essential to democracy. It takes some type of delusion or another to make actually going to vote worth the effort.

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  4. “I know many people hated the movie Crash, but the thing that really moved me about it was its portrayal of how someone “evil” could turn around and do something profoundly good and vice versa. All those internal contradictions are within us all, but we deny them.”
    “And this goes back to the comment thread on fixed worldviews, I guess, huh.”
    Uh oh, you just stated a fixed worldview.

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  5. I am currently dealing with a disillusioned uncle. He is in his 60s. He was a teenager when Kennedy was elected. Every time some cool liberal thing is stripped out of the health care bill, or expectations are lowered for Copenhagen climate change, he’s moping around, saying, “Where’s the hope?” or “What happened to change we could believe in?”
    I’m not the right person for him to be moping to, since I voted for Clinton in the primaries — largely because I thought she would be more effective, and have the same political views. He’s not really looking for an “I told you so,” so I keep my mouth shut. But I keep thinking, “You’re a generation older than I am. What made you think that ‘change you could believe in’ would translate into your specific policy proposals?”
    Oh well. Maybe we Gen-X’ers are just more cynical and the Boomers AND the Gen-Y’ers.

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