Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Straying Off Message

Blogs, political campaigns, and social movements often rest upon foundations of a unifying mindset, viewpoint, or message. It is the message that draws people to support whatever it is one purports to be, say, or do. So it is often times interesting, comical or even a bit disturbing to see any high profile individual or group veer off message, and away from the familiar territory they normally stake off.

Elizabeth Edwards ventured far afield recently when she publicly criticized a less financially endowed neighbor who is having problems adjusting to the 28,000 square foot Castillo de Edwards looming over his modest property:

Edwards, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, particularly recalls the time neighbor Monty Johnson brought out a gun while chasing workers investigating a right of way near his property. The Edwards family has yet to meet Johnson in person. Edwards views Johnson as a "rabid, rabid Republican" who refuses to clean up his "slummy" property just to spite her
family, whose lavish 28,000-square-foot estate is nearby on 102 wooded
acres.

Johnson, 55, acknowledges his Republican roots. But he takes offense to the suggestion he has purposefully left his property, including an old garage he leases for use as a car shop, in dilapidated
condition. Johnson said he has lived his entire life on the property, which he said his family purchased before the Great Depression. He said he's spent a lot of money to try and fix up the 42-acre tract. "I have to budget. I have to live within my means," Johnson said. "I don't have millions of dollars to fix the place."

"I thought he [Senator Edwards] was supposed to be for the poor people," Johnson said. "But does he ever socialize with any poor people? He doesn't speak to me."

Indeed, the Edwards campaign literature states they want to create opportunities in rural America. But those who live within driving distance to Research Triangle Park in metropolitan Raleigh can watch the erstwhile transformation of rural America right before your eyes, populism be damned. The Rhode Island - sized Edwards Estate is symptomatic of the change taking place in this part of the country, and many others as well. The once modest homes and wooded fields of sleepy rural communities are being replaced by subdivisions of $300,000.00 homes, stacked on top of one another; Targets and Super-Walmarts are overtaking the little country stores, and where once there were familes who lived on the same properties for generations there are now educated, monied intellectuals scorning the original inhabitants for their unenlightened demeanor and simple ways. Once the property taxes rise, families sell their valuable land to developers, and the problems of "slummy" rural America (the second of the Two Americas, actually) just go elsewhere.

The Progressive blog Daily Kos went egregiously off message a few days ago when one of its diarists posted an antisemitic screed illustrated by an obscene photo that juxtaposed the visage of Hitler upon that of a man of Jewish persuasion [the text and illustration were subsequently removed, and many people in the comments section laughably suggested a conservative plot to discredit the site). Anti-Semitism in any form, on a supposedly progressive web site? Kos did not bathe itself in glory with this posting, and overall it is is probably a strategically poor idea to alienate an influential segment of the American population, especially when you plan on transforming American society and Crashing the Gate, I would think.

Finally, Illinois Senator and Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama, whose campaign proposes to rid Washington of its culture of corruption, was recently photographed meeting in his (federal) office with key campaign advisors, a major faux pax that is not only representative of that which the freshman senator purports to be trying to change, but is technically illegal to boot. The meeting may have been innocuous, but the perception that endures is the Obama campaign is just more business as usual politics, and this is far from the squeaky clean image this candidate is marketing.

So, for your reading pleasure, a few interesting anecdotes of politicians, bloggers, and straphangers off message. The aforementioned examples are more than just idle coffee talk, though. These journeys away from the steady path of The Message make you wonder if the aberrant remark, posting or action is just a stray blip on the radar, or if the the message itself is truly genune at all.

2 comments:

2164th said...

Can I just hate all of them?

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