Friday, October 24, 2008

Republicans and Authenticity

I've heard a lot of comment about Sarah Palin's $150,000 wardrobe. A lot of it has to do with how much money this is compared to what the average American makes. A lot of it is about how it's a waste of campaign money. I haven't heard any commentary that gets to what I think is the real point: authenticity.

The GOP has been selling Sarah Palin as an authentic, down-to-earth hockey mom. Of course, a lot of people wonder if that's what we're looking for in a vice president. But the $150,000 wardrobe story shows that the GOP isn't even looking for that in a vice president. If party leaders had really thought, "You know who we need, someone really down-to-earth," they would have, at most, bought her the kind of stuff she was wearing already -- which I guarantee you was not Saks Fifth Avenue. Instead, they treated her like Eliza Doolittle.

You see this authenticity problem with "Joe the Plumber". He's not named Joe, he's not a plumber, if he made $250,000 a year he wouldn't be a typical plumber, the business he's thinking about buying (or maybe he's not) doesn't even make that amount of money... Would it have killed them to have found an actual plumber to use as an example? Apparently.

In this election, Democrats don't have a major authenticity problem. (Unlike with John Kerry or Al Gore.) They're not running a guy who's pretending to be Barry Obama from Chicago. His whole life story -- growing up in Hawaii (which Americans aren't sure is a real state) and Indonesia -- screams "exotic." And yet the Republicans are resorting to distorting it to make it seem even more "foreign". Why? Because Americans don't really dislike foreigners (see the governors of California and Michigan). Like Holden Caulfield, it's phonies that we can't stand.

Another thought, as long as I'm discussing authenticity, Obama's background and things the media isn't quite getting right. The other day, I was watching the news. They were showing Obama ads that feature his mother and his grandparents. The commentators speculated that the ads were a way of making him seem whiter and "less threatening".

Really? Americans find a picture of a white woman and her black child less threatening? Maybe. If so, we've come a long way since this picture was taken. God bless America.

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