Friday, March 23, 2007

Faux What It’s Worth

By and large, conservative pundits spend a lot of time pretending to misinterpret things that anyone with common sense has already interpreted correctly. I understand that they have to do this try to fool the people who aren’t paying close attention (and to validate the don’t-confuse-me-with-facts mindset of the staunch Bush supporters), but it’s still dishonest, and they know it.

One of the dumbest examples is the flap last October over John Kerry’s poorly told joke about staying in school. Did these hacks really think Kerry was disparaging the intelligence of American troops? Of course they didn’t. But if they’d reported the story honestly, they couldn’t have stirred up the ignorant faithful.

I found a new example yesterday in a column by Kathleen Parker. In it she discusses John Edwards’ hair and a YouTube video that sets footage of Edwards being prepped for a TV appearance to the song “I Feel Pretty” from West Side Story. Parker says this video could have a “potentially devastating effect” on Edwards and presumably his campaign, but that’s either an extreme overreaction or wishful thinking. It’s a two-minute video: Edwards brushes his hair for about a minute, then the makeup technician fixes him up with some spray, and then he examines himself in a mirror—which I interpret as wanting to look good for the appearance but which the person who added the music wants us to believe has some dark meaning about vanity and unmanliness.

Either way, it’s a goof. I suspect Edwards might think it’s pretty funny. Parker goes on to say that she has, in the past, defended Edwards “for being cute,” but then adds this:

…It’s not his fault that he’s rich. At least it’s not un-American, even if his populist “Two Americas” message rings a little faux as he builds a 28,000-square-foot monument to Ego. I mean, a house.

Could this be an example of someone pretending to misinterpret Edwards’ “Two Americas” concept? Golly whiz, it sure could.

Edwards’ populist message would only “ring faux” if he had never demonstrated any awareness of the growing gap between rich and poor, or empathy toward the latter. It would ring faux coming from the mouth of someone like Barbara Bush. It would ring faux if he purchased a company and then moved all the manufacturing jobs overseas, or if he reincorporated it in Bermuda to cheat the government out of some tax revenue and line the pockets of shareholders.

But here’s a man who’s campaigning for a position in which he could directly address the issue. The square footage of his home has no bearing on his ability to see a problem and try to fix it. I don’t think he has to pass out five-dollar bills on the street or invite the homeless to live with him to prove his sincerity.

You don’t forfeit your right to see the big picture just because you have money.

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