Monday, October 15, 2007

"But every issue, even the smallest, has to be a war"

Wherein and some people are just bad surfers

Photodude thinks we're heading into a dark tunnel until the elections. I agree.
I truly believe there are lots of honorable people wanting to serve their country, and feel they can best do so by working for the party and/or candidates they believe can best take care of this country. They might only work for them part-time during the local campaign, or they might actually go to DC with the winning candidate and work for them full-time.

I believe there are others that are interested solely in the best short term outcome for their party, often to the exclusion of the country’s long term interests. Many of them work in Congress or elsewhere in DC. I suppose some “graduate” from the first group into this second one.

And I believe there are still others who see a large wave on which they might surf. They don’t even have to necessarily agree with the wave (though they might). Riding it is what’s fun.

Then we apply the 80/20 rule. People in the above groupings have already demonstrated its application, in that 80% (more or less) of people are “passives,” and though they might intellectually agree, they are not the type to actively participate in the above manners.

But I think you can apply that 80/20 rule once again (or 90/10 if you prefer, I won’t quibble). Of those who are supporting a party candidate actively (like, in a blog?) 20% will do so in a knee jerk destructive manner. There is a “hard core” to both parties, who will put their blinders on and offer knee jerk support for even the most incomprehensible political acts. We should remember even Nixon never really fell much below 25% in the approval ratings. Pick the least liked member of either party, and there’s still that 20% who “have their back,” no matter what.

I'll use his article as a jumping off point for referencing my favorite political/conspiracy novel, Interface. Lots of good satire on campaign marketing. Earlier, I excerpted Cy Ogle explaining the Age of scrutiny: We do not have the strength to change the minds of the illiterate multitude. But we do have the wit to exploit their foolishness, to familiarize ourselves with their stunted thought patterns, and to use that knowledge to manipulate them toward the goals that we all know are, quote, right and true, unquote. Here, he's discussing riding the media wave:
"Let me just state one ground rule first," he said. "This conversation is not a business thing."

"It's not?"

"Nope. But it's not a social thing either, because we are total strangers."

"So what is it, Mr. Ogle?"

"Two people talking to each other."

"And what are we exactly are we talking about?"



"Media is like a wave," Ogle said. "It's powerful and uncontrollable. If you're good, you can surf on it for a little bit, get a boost from it. Gary Hart surfed on that wave for a few weeks in 1984, after he won New Hampshire from Mondale. But by the time the Illinois primary came around, he had fallen off the surfboard. The wave broke over him and swamped him. He tried again in 1988 but that time he just plain drowned. Perot rode the wave for a month or in '92, then he lost his nerve."

Ogle turned in his chair and focused in on Mary Catherine now. "You and your family, you've been having a day at the beach. You've been out wading in the shallow waters where everything is warm and safe. But the currents are tricky and suddenly you find that you have been swept far out into the deep black water by a mysterious undertow. And now, great waves are cresting over your heads. You can get up and ride those waves wherever they take you, or you can pretend it's not happening. You can keep treading water, in which case the tsunami will break on top of you and slam you down onto the bottom."

Mary Catherine just kept her mouth shut and stared into her water glass. She was feeling several powerful emotions at once and she knew that if she opened her mouth she'd probably regret it.

There was fear. Fear because she knew that Ogle was exactly right. Resentment because this total stranger was presuming to give her advice. And there was a frightening sense of exhilaration, wild thrilling danger, almost sexual in its power.

Fear, resentment, and exhilaration. She knew that her brother, James was experiencing the same feelings. And she knew that he was ignoring the fear, swallowing the resentment, and giving in to the exhilaration.

She looked at Ogle. Ogle was looking back at her, a little bit sideways, not wanting to confront her directly.

"There's a third outcome you didn't mention," she said.

"What's that?" Ogle said, startled.

"You start riding the wave because you enjoy the thrill of it. But you don't know what you're doing. And you end up getting slammed into the rocks."

Ogle nodded. "Yes, the world is full of bad surfers."

"My brother, James, is a bad surfer. He's a really bad surfer," Mary Catherine said, "but he thinks he's good. And he seems to have located a really big wave."

Ogle nodded.

"Now, I have no idea, still, what it is that you want, or what you are proposing, or what you think you're going to get out of it," Mary Catherine said. "But I can tell you this. James is a problem. And without committing myself or my family to anything financial, let me say that if you can provide some advice in dealing with this problem, it would not be forgotten."


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