Sunday, June 13, 2010

Right on! Fareed Zakaria Says Focus On Obama's Emotions is Crazy During the Oil Spill Crisis

Right on, CNN's Fareed Zakaria! Regarding this obsession with Obama's emotions, Zakaria asks, is the media insane? I agree.

The media has been so busy being impressed by Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal's show of passion in comparison that it's failed to examine Jindal's history in oil. The media has not questioned the dog and pony shows that Drill-Baby-Drill Republicans are staging. (Zakaria didn't say that in the video below. I'm saying that.) Sadly, it's a political showmanship battle we're seeing, not a desperate sprint to solve the BP oil leak crisis.

And yes, Mr. Zakaria, you are right. Obama is being influenced by the need for more theatrics and the theatrics of others. "Got to give the people what they want," and they don't seem to want facts.

So, it's not just the media. It's also us, the people of the United States of America. We're focused on the wrong thing--President Barack Obama's show of emotion or lack of it.

I've written that Obama needs to put on a bigger show but also put that recommendation in context of our childish need for drama. Americans are addicted to theater; they crave symbolism over substance. I said "the president should fake effectiveness" because that's how America is judging him, but that way of judging policy and performance may be our downfall.

It doesn't matter to television viewers if Obama is making the right decision as long as they see action. How they would have applauded seeing Marines hit the shores of the Gulf coast to fight the monster oil spill, and yet, if those soldiers started falling over after contact with the Corexit dispersant, how they would have shouted at the president for putting "our boys" in unnecessary danger. Americans say their president is not a king, but they desire whoever sits in the Oval Office to be akin to a god.

Therefore, it's not just the media, as you so kindly framed your opinion, but also us, Americans who seem insane while viewing this crisis. To prefer fakery over substance reveals that we are a Hollywood nation of non-contemplative slackers who can't even critically think our ways out of an oily political bag.


RiPPa said...

Emotions and the temperature of the populace are important to any leader. I think the media is correct to focus on his temperament. I say that because perception is reality even more so in politics than any other theater.

Look at it this way...

The American public is pissed with the ongoing gush of oil in the Gulf. The "accident" is synonymous to an attack on the United States - that's how it's being viewed given the incompetence of the parties involved; government included.

Now think of this for a second...

Remember the emotions of the country in response to the events of 9/11? Remember the newfound spirit and resurgence of patriotism? Well, it was said emotions (partly fueled by the gov't) which Bush and company tapped into to lie over 900 times in making a case for war in Iraq.

Emotions provided the necessary political capital for the administration then. And now, with the Gulf oil geyser, Obama is losing the very capital he stands to gain from with a differently perceived emotional response.

The funny thing about all of this. Is that in light of the many criticisms, the president himself has made an attempt (through the media) to change perceptions and ushering a different tone.

Jindal is a hypocrite; and yes, he is seizing an opportunity for political expediency. But, I can't blame him when the majority of the oil produced in this country either comes from his state or offshore.

It behooves any leader to at least appear to be in touch with the emotions of the public. And as I've said before and as you've pointed out. It is essentially so because of the American culture of personality/

msladyDeborah said...

I do not care about the level of emotion that is being displayed by Obama or anyone else at this point in time. What I want to see is the needed progress to stop the leaking oil. That does not require emotion. It does require an effective method to deal with the first part of this disaster.

Obama is in perpetual Catch 22. He's going to catch hell when he does and hell when he doesn't. So this dust up over how he should be acting is just a continuance of that theme.

Emotinal responses if they are just for show don't mount up to much in my book. I am far more impressed with grace under fire and the flame being held up under the corporate butt of BP. I am liking the proposed plan to have them put funds into escrow to pay for the losses that people are experiencing. That makes more sense to me than any of the other tripe that the MSM talking heads have been babbling about.

Now to my sidebar comment,
Love the look of WASA! Very pretty and given what is going on arround you-very appropriate! You go girl!

Vérité Parlant said...

Rippa: Oh, I understand perception is reality and why he's forced to put on a show. I used to be a subcontractor in PR for the D.O.E. at a nuclear site in the environmental restoration department--Dog and pony shows for everyone! Hah!

Anything to calm people down so they don't panic about the groundwater apocalypse and mutant babies, not to mention government officials like those shows as well.

So I know Obama must become a better actor. GWB could give him lessons. If George had been paying attention, he would have "acted" like he cared in 2005 earlier.

But I still think it's our immaturity that makes us require theater. As you and I say, cult of personality. I'm not critiquing his pushing to show more passion, but I am critical of our need to see a show regardless of effectiveness.

We're driven by emotion more than logic and so we look for emotional gestures that often have nothing to do with what's actually going on.

Vérité Parlant said...

Deborah, yep. I said in an earlier post that Obama's facing a Pontius-Pilate-like dilemma, but the Catch 22 analogy works well too.

It galls me that BP had no plan at all for handling an oil leak in deep water and that the MMS gave them the lease without demanding to see such a plan and Jindal--who's said Louisiana can balance the danger to wetlands with drilling on the outer continental shelf when he was a congressman--did not develop a plan for this kind of disaster as he entered the governor's office.

All these people keep comparing this to Hurricane Katrina as far as Obama goes, but how is Jindal screaming at the Federal Government all that different from Nagin, who had an ineffective hurricane evacuation plan, screaming for federal help from the Superdome?

What was Bobby "Drill-Baby-Drill" Jindal's plan?

Vérité Parlant said...

Oh, and Ms. Lady D., thank you on your compliment about the change. :-)

Kit (Keep It Trill) said...

Jindal impressed me for all of five minutes when he was in an oily boat on the Gulf with Anderson Cooper. The way he talked, I thought maybe he had a come to Jesus moment.

The very next day or two, he was Big Oil's harlot and pushing the drill baby drill agenda.

If Russian scientists got it even half right about toxic oil and dispersant rain affecting vegetation and air quality, those in the area will be hit hard, and those not won't even be able to drink Florida orange juice, much less eat seafood from the Gulf.

This news clip video and opinion gives me pause that maybe that problem has begun, while one has a good argument that it's premature to believe it.

I agree that Americans are easily swayed by theatrics - but, this thing will affect the economy and more of us personally over the summer as it worsens. I think America will get serious, very serious, and this may be the year this nation finally grows up... or devolves into an infant with a tantrum.