Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Lipstick on Pygmalion

Lipstick on Pygmalion
McCain and Palin don’t have track records of change, they have track records of a bridge to nowhere, pork barrel waste, irresponsible spending and same ol same ol politics of the rich. As a leader, McCain can’t boast anything new, except maybe hooking up with an ex beauty queen… Even that truly isn’t new, his beer heiress wife was one too. No, as a leader, McCain has learned from corporate America to use the tools of advertising, spin, and branding to sell the product called “McCain.” He needs the magic of packaging because he completely lacks substance.
As viewers, we are used to making judgments based on packaging. McCain stands beside the "hockey" mother of five, all gritty and polished like a glossy Hollywood headshot; both shouting, "change, change, change." Whatever that means. But, what does hockey mom mean? Does it mean that years ago, when her adult son was young, she took him to hockey practice? My kids collectively played soccer, football, softball, cheerleading, and Little League, along with guitar, violin, piano, bass and trombone, which meant I went to a lot of practices. That makes me a good chauffeur, but doesn't denote leadership. It might prepare me to negotiate a turn, but not diplomacy.
Palin's slick ability to deliver a prepared speech along with her image as white, coiffed, and lipsticked is straight corporate marketing. Imagine if she was Mexican with five kids, or African American? What assumptions would be made about her sexuality, fertility, or religious background? What assumptions would be made about her knocked-up teen? How about her callous lack of going to a hospital for 22 hours after her water broke with her premature, Down's syndrome baby? Would it still be cool? Or would it be criminal?
Would Palin’s teen be seen as heroic or as a drain on society if she were a minority? The fact that she is white makes her flowering fertility seem like a beauty mark where it would be a scarlet letter alight on her chest if she were a woman of color. Not much has changed, and it makes me wonder about us as a nation.
If we are a country by the people, of the people, and for the people, we have to educate ourselves about our own assumptions. I think we have to separate the corporate branding of our candidates and look at their real qualities, or lack of quality, before we vote. Red lipstick doesn’t make a lady; it just makes lips.
Before we vote I would ask all Americans to step back and really think of the branding of hokey Palin. She is not a maverick any more than McCain. Is McCain a maverick for leaving his sick wife to marry a beer heiress beauty queen he met in a bar? Is hokey Palin a maverick for mouthing a speech written for her? She continues to mouth the same pre-written, inaccurate words, and maybe because of pretty lipstick, men and women continue to listen.
She is under investigation for abuse of power. According to KTVS 11 news, “The legislative council approved 100,000 dollars for the investigation that will find out whether Palin was angry at Monegan for not firing an Alaska State Trooper who went through a messy divorce with Palin's sister.” Clearly, she fired him, but it will take an investigation to confirm abuse of power; and it will take at least three months, just past the election. She has a lot of explaining to do, but as of this writing has only delivered a prepared speech. This isn't change. It's lipstick.
When I think of this election, I am reminded of the loss of secular societies like Iran over the slick branding of fear and religious fervor. It took a loud handful to extinguish that secular monarchy and turn it into an extremist theocratic dictatorship. Since then, Iran has burned books, and women’s rights have moved back about 800 years. It breaks my heart that it could happen here.
Before we jump to vote for one candidate over another, I believe we have to look at track records and beliefs for what they really mean to our laws, freedoms, rights, and to the heart of the constitution itself. Then we have to look at our own flawed and prejudiced selves if we want to heal relationships and move toward a more perfect union…

Jesse Loren