Thursday, September 11, 2008

Narrative Fiction Rules The 2008 Campaign

"when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro"

It's both fascinating and a little sickening to see news reporters and their dubious pundits talk to each other about how they are being suckered and manipulated by the McCain campaign but are not posing those questions and concerns to McCain himself.

Likewise, the warping and twisting of language and ideas about women in elected office and women in general which the Republicans are whipping up a media and cultural frenzy:

In this strange new pro-woman tableau, feminism -- a word that is being used all over the country with regard to Palin's potential power -- means voting for someone who would limit reproductive control, access to healthcare and funding for places like Covenant House Alaska, an organization that helps unwed teen mothers. It means cheering someone who allowed women to be charged for their rape kits while she was mayor of Wasilla, who supports the teaching of creationism alongside evolution, who has inquired locally about the possibility of using her position to ban children's books from the public library, who does not support the teaching of sex education.

In this "Handmaid's Tale"-inflected universe, in which femininity is worshipped but females will be denied rights, CNBC pundit Donny Deutsch tells us that we're witnessing "a new creation ... of the feminist ideal," the feminism being so ideal because instead of being voiced by hairy old bats with unattractive ideas about intellect and economy and politics and power, it's now embodied by a woman who, according to Deutsch, does what Hillary Clinton did not: "put a skirt on." "I want her watching my kids," says Deutsch. "I want her laying next to me in bed."

Welcome to 2008, the year a tough, wonky woman won a primary (lots of them, actually), an inspiring black man secured his party's nomination for the presidency, and a television talking head felt free to opine that a woman is qualified for executive office because he wants to bed her and have her watch his kids! Stop the election; I want to get off."

Also see this post from Sharon Cobb:

If you are biracial and born in a state not connected to the lower 48, America needs darn near 2 years and 3 major speeches to "get to know you." If you're white and from a state not connected to the lower 48, America needs 36 minutes and 38 seconds worth of an acceptance speech to know you're "one of us."

If you get 18 million people to vote for you in a national presidential primary, you're a "phony." Get 100,000+ people to vote you governor of the 47th most populous state in the Union, you're "well loved."

"Black teen pregnancies? A "crisis" in black America.
White teen pregnancies? A "blessed event."

If you grow up in Hawaii you're "exotic."
Grow up in Alaska eating mooseburgers, you're the quintessential "American story."

Similarly, if you name you kid Barack you're "unpatriotic."
Name your kid Track, you're "colorful."

Is this simply the result of an election which has gone on for so long and had so many players rise and fall? Probably. Ever since these campaigns grabbed the phrase "campaign narrative" the facts lose their meaning and the fictions and fantasies flourish.

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