Friday, May 23, 2003

In the article Adam Nagourney published yesterday in The New York Times about John Edwards's effort to reach out to rural voters in his presidential campaign, was this necessary?

The prepared text for Mr. Edwards's speech that was e-mailed to reporters included stage directions for the senator — instructing him to "point if you can see" windmills in the distance, as he talked about their potential to generate inexpensive power for farmers.

President Bush's speeches, by contrast, are spontaneous outpourings of the soul, and contain no pre-planned bits of stage business whatsoever. Is that what Nagourney wants us to believe?

Of course, the Times does tell us about Bush stage management -- there was, after all, that big front-page story last Friday about the crafting of Bush's image. But that article was meant to make you see Bush stage management as a mighty show of strength ("... using the powers of television and technology to promote a presidency like never before"), not as tawdry and dishonest image manipulation. We see the same skew in coverage of Democrats and Republicans as they raise funds: Clinton at a fund-raiser is a money-grubbing sleaze, whereas Bush ... well, note the first seven words of this Times article on a Bush fund-raiser, also from yesterday's paper:

President Bush flexed his political muscles tonight....

And what's particularly dishonest about discussing windmills in a speech and choosing to gesture to windmills if some are visible? Does it change the truth value of any statement in the speech about wind power? Does it suggest something that's untrue about the presence or absence of windmills in rural areas? What the hell is wrong with doing this?

The article also includes this cheap shot from a GOP operative:

Jim Dyke, a spokesman for the Republican National Committee, suggested that Mr. Edwards would have a tough time presenting himself as the candidate of rural America.

"I guess they wrote that speech at John Edwards's Georgetown mansion," Mr. Dyke said.

But ... but ... but I thought Americans didn't like "class warfare"! I thought we didn't resent rich people for being rich, as long as they "keep it real," like Jenny from the Block. Isn't that what Republican David Brooks told us only a few months ago?

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