Tuesday, September 20, 2011
© 2011, the Institute for Applied Common Sense
“Most of the arguments to which I am a party fall somewhat short of being impressive, owing to the fact that neither I nor my opponent know what we are talking about.”
-- Rodney Dangerfield
It is our contention that Los Angeles is the new face of the world. With its multiple seaports, access to the Pacific Rim, world-class universities, and 6,743 cultures residing there, it is a microcosm of the globe. When the Institute was located there, we had both the detriment and benefit of coming into contact with every imaginable character.
One of the more memorable was a fellow we met on a train, who was trying to sell his movie concept. The movie was to be based on the quotes of Rodney Dangerfield, the comedian who claimed he never got any respect in life. He showed us a notebook containing every single 15 second joke by the King of Succinct.
We thought about Dangerfield last week while watching a CNN newscast after the Republican Presidential Candidate Debate. One commentator said that any prospect for success, which Ron Paul of Texas may have had, suddenly disappeared when he “suggested” that the Islamic world’s antipathy toward the U. S. was in some part due to our policies in the Middle East. The anchor on the show expressed surprise at the use of the word “suggested,” and said that Paul came right out and said it. This, according to them, was the death nail in his coffin.
For anyone to suggest that the U.S. bears absolutely no responsibility for the Islamic world’s attitude toward us is sheer idiocy, and yet any ultimately successful candidate cannot acknowledge any responsibility on our part. Paul was actually booed during his comments.
We once wrote a piece entitled, 27 Situations Where People We Respect Claim That Lying is Appropriate, and we weren’t referring to politicians. Some contend that it is the magic show that matters, not the reality, and that voters are more interested in being told what they want to hear, consistent with their belief systems.
A straight talker might get elected, with some other attributes working in his or her favor. But a straight shooter has absolutely no chance at all, and will not receive any respect. The candidate may get some notice, from the media in particular, who will label him or her either a fool or an idiot. They will euphemistically refer to it as a lack of “political sophistication,” and blame the candidate’s handlers.
(Presidential elections are also about media appeal, and a little bit of glamour. Another reason Ron Paul will not be elected is because he does not look “presidential.”)
In our view, a “straight talker” is different than a “straight shooter,” and while straight talk may be emotionally appealing, it does not necessarily contain much truth. Both qualities can theoretically be found in the same person, but rarely are both found in a politician.
A couple of years ago, between President Obama’s election and his inauguration, George Will appeared on Charlie Rose. He said that all of Obama’s idealism and lofty thinking might have gotten him elected, but that on the first day on the job, someone would take him aside, expose the realities to him, and tell him, “This is what you need to do,” essentially because the public can’t handle the truth.
Earlier this month, one of the nation’s governors claimed that his administration was trying to create a stable business environment. We immediately had 2 thoughts.
First, any real businessperson will tell you that there is no such thing as a stable business environment. The environment is unpredictable and changes daily. Business owners must stay on their toes like Isadora Duncan, dance like Fred Astaire, and jump through hoops like Siegfried and Roy tigers. And all of this with their eyes and ears wide open, while conducting research on the market and their competitors.
Like an animal in the jungle living to survive, one cannot rest, either to catch one’s breadth, or upon one’s laurels. As we noted in an earlier post, Pigs Get Fat; Hogs Get Slaughtered.
Second, the typical horse pukey spewed by politicians is salesman-type, smoke and mirrors stuff, which is the realm of snake oil, used-car, and cosmetic counter salespeople. For some reason, that appeals to voters, as long as there is a little music in the background.
During the entire time that Congressman Paul has been in politics, he has been nothing but a straight shooter. Try to find something, directly attributable to him, which might be termed “kooky.”
And yet, no one has taken him seriously, or given him any respect.
Unfortunately, presidential races are popularity contests based on images and sound bites, not on reason.
Imagine picking a doctor based on his or her popularity, bedside manner, and oratory skills, as opposed to their skill at addressing medical problems. Further imagine a doctor (which Paul happens to be) telling an obese patient, “No, you don’t have obesity, and you don’t need to change your dietary or exercise habits. It’s those family members of yours who keep telling you that you are fat. They are the problem.”
And then we voters complain about the elected officials we get. Is it any surprise that they don’t respect us once they get elected?
Plus, when a society (through its leaders) can not openly accept responsibility for your conduct, you're dun' fur'.
This nation might be better served by putting some technocrats in charge right now, instead of salespeople, hawkers, and those with media appeal.
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