Watching a little TV this morning, I heard the umpteenth example of just how dumb some of the media “experts” are. The host was relaying a story about a dinner at the . It was just after had become president and he and invited their long time friends, Tip O’Neill and his wife, Millie, over. Ford supposedly quipped that his bump to had done wonders for his pension.
The young guy, whose name I didn’t bother to catch, was like, ” What? Explain what you mean.” While using imprecise terminology, the host and another guest explained that this was a “fixed” pension, as opposed to the defined benefit plans versus defined contribution plans.) The young guy still looked perplexed. A few minutes later, he’s offering his opinion on the fiscal cliff.we mostly have today. (It is actually
Um, OK. You’re on national TV, talking about national issues, and you don’t know the difference? How in the world can you possibly discuss the things like right to work orwithout an understanding of how things work? And if you don’t know, why should I believe anything that comes out of your mouth?
Another recent example occurred on awhose panel consists of all young people. One of them made the statement that Hillary Clinton may have a hard time becoming president because she’d have to face the right-wing noise machine, and she didn’t have any experience with that.
Um, hello. Hillary coined the phrase “vast right-wing conspiracy.”
And we wonder why Americans don’t know anything. The media, with its obsession over young, good looking airheads, is doing us a great disservice.
Back in the day, TV news consisted of reading the copy that was put in front of them. Young, good looking male (and later, female – Jessica Savitch comes to mind) airheads provided that service. The folks who did opinion were older and well-informed, not only about the single topic at hand but about lots of different things. It was why Tim Russert, and others before him, was so respected. Looks were unimportant – knowledge was the value.
Like Pavlov’s dogs, we’ve come to value looks over substance. And because we don’t know the substance ourselves, we vote for the folks who look good, and who can reduce complex issues to soundbites. This isn’t necessarily new – part of the reason voters chose John F. Kennedy in 1960 was because of his “youth and vigor.” Unlike today’s pretty boys, though, JFK was no lightweight.
So we end up with folks in Washington who look great on TV, but have the mental capacity of an ant (my apologies to all the ants). There is simply no other reason why we are about to head over the fiscal cliff and into another recession. “Stupid is as stupid does.” The folks in Washington adopted these rules, thinking that they were so bad no one would allow them to happen, yet here we are, staring at the abyss.
Slogans are great for campaigns, a lot less so for governing. But between the airheads on TV and the airheads in Washington, this is what we’ve come to.
Here’s a tip – and one that I tell my students often: reading is fundamental.
Stop hanging out on Facebook and pick up a book. Stop worrying about how many Twitter followers you have and actually take the time to to learn something new, every day.
Don’t understand Keynesian economic policy? Get a book about it. (No, Wikipedia is not a book.)
Want to understand why some say the founding fathers intended the states to elect the president – and not the voters at large? Get a book. (Tackling this one myself.)
Somebody before you had the same questions. And somebody before you figured out the answers. You may not agree with them (I think the mob was involved in the JFK assassination, with the help of some government folks) but at least you will get an understanding of where they are coming from.
We have the capacity to understand complex issues. But as long as we rely on superficial sound bites from the media and our elected representatives, we are truly just like sheep being led to the slaughter.