Say it ain’t so, Joe
Shoeless Joe Jackson was a phenomenal baseball player for the Chicago White Sox. But he was caught up in the Black Sox Scandal, where he and a few teammates conspired to throw the 1919 World Series. A young fan, seeing Shoeless Joe emerge from the courthouse, gave us the immortal line, “Say it ain’t so, Joe.”
We are in a world of empowered consumers who control and are self-seekers of information. We need to satisfy their desire to make decisions based on fact, not image….
There is a threat to all of us for instance, from spin and propaganda. The behavior of the US Government in failure to properly identify the source of video news releases on behalf of the US Department of Health and Human Services is frankly unacceptable….
I will confess to watching TV shows like “America’s Top Model” and understand it to be part of the hype that is modern America. I know what is happening to me as a consumer but I believe I am smart enough to discount the information being conveyed….
–Richard Edelman in his 2005 Blog Post titled “Say it ain’t so, Joe”
Last night’s Vice Presidential Candidates debate rose to the level of the 1984 Miss Alaska beauty pageant. Sarah Palin’s fierce competitive instincts and intense preparation allowed her to hold her own, barely embarrass herself, and leave the stage as a second rater who can hold her head high because she gave it all she had.
Palin’s first words to her opponent when she hit the stage — “Can I call you Joe?” — seemed like a non sequitur, especially since she consistently addressed him and referred to him as Senator Biden throughout the first half of the debate. The question was actually a set-up line for a contrivance meant to echo Ron Reagan’s folksy staged sincerity when he undercut the President of the United States with his own grandfatherly authority in the Carter/Reagan debate of 1980. “There you go again,” Ron said, and his viewers, who indeed were more familiar with his B movie and Death Valley Days “20 mule team borax” persona than they were with his cultivated political rise as Governor of California, saw a new, authoritative side of the affable simpleton.
Last night, this year’s affable simpleton said to Joe Biden: “Say it ain’t so, Joe. There you go again.” Where he had gone was back to the touchstone of the Obama/Biden campaign — our ever sharpening sense of what has been going on for the last eight years under Bush, and what McCain/Palin would mean should the Republicans fool us again. Palin delivered her line about as well as she played the flute when she won second runner-up in the 1984 Miss Alaska pageant. Fortunately for her, this is a two horse race, so the worst she can do for herself (and the best for America) is finish second.
We know she was coached to say it, to use the “there you go again” construction to neutralize a strong point that Biden made about the Republican failed policies, to hopefully echo Reagan and win for herself some spunky underdog credit. And we know her coaching included the “Say it ain’t so Joe” contrivance. But dollars to donuts her coaching did not include the concatenation. By blowing both those lines out her ass simultaneously, Palin underscored the contrivance and neutralized the value. The only people who thought that exchange was spunky and wonderful were the hopelessly naive, or the corrupt greed-balls and Jesus freaks who are already in her camp.
Still, Palin managed to pull off a victory of sorts last night. As Steve Burgess says at The Tyee,
Never in U.S. political history has there been so much anticipation for a second-banana skirmish. People who would ordinarily choose a Two-and-a-Half Men marathon before considering a political debate were popping popcorn and pulling up chairs to watch Senator Joe Biden take on Alaska Governor Tina Fey. This would be better than a scheduled car wreck. What would Palin do — weep? Soil herself? Play the flute?
Therein lay the trap for the Democratic veep candidate. Biden would be like Tiger Woods playing a golfer with a three-digit handicap. If Palin simply wore her glasses right side up and refrained from hallucinating the looming head of Vladimir Putin, the debate could be framed as a Republican triumph.