Head Asplode

By Jesse Taylor
Wednesday, June 20, 2012 11:25 EDT
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Politico decries the overwhelming triviality and smallness of this year’s presidential campaign, and somehow doesn’t choke on the irony of it all.

Romney staffers shouted down Obama strategist David Axelrod during an outdoor press conference in Boston, with some protesters blowing bubbles in his direction. Yet who could forget the tonnage of Democratic tweets, typed over many months, about Romney’s intestinally challenged, car roof-riding dog Seamus, or the GOP tweets about Obama’s admission that he has eaten dog meat. Obama’s campaign disavows hecklers who’ve disrupted Romney events, but it’s not like their supporters are standing down or they don’t appreciate coverage showing it’s been effective.

If anyone can even explain what the last half of the last sentence means, I would appreciate it…although it almost certainly means Politico will never hire you to win the morning. The midafternoon lull, maybe, but the morning is for closers.

The modern political press corps – at this point slavishly devoted to reporting everything that happens without context or scale in what is the journalistic equivalent of hobo stew – laments the smallness of a presidential campaign, ignores the calls to discuss policy, and ignores the stern chiding of the campaigns themselves. These are the lamentations of the spoonfed, who are not angry that the campaigns are small, but are angry that they’re swarmed with a surfeit of trivialities that keep them from turning any single triviality into the single banal, driving moment of the campaign. 

In a way, it’s heartening – it means we avoid the Kerry cheesesteak moment, because we’re now in a media environment where Kerry is eating a dozen cheesesteaks with the wrong toppings each week,* and each time is just another thing on the pile. Nothing ever catches on because there’s an attempt to make everything catch on, regardless of its accuracy, import or even who does it. A guy on Twitter with 12 followers is as important as a Romney spokesperson, because we can see both of them on the same platform. Any video can make its way to YouTube, which means a candidate’s tangentially affiliated booster is effectively the same as a sitting elected official, because CNN is willing to put the same chyron beneath each.

It’s the end goal of the now-entrenched blogging revolution gone horribly, terribly wrong. Instead of equalizing the power balance between traditional media and new media, traditional media has equalized its capacity to find insipid news hits anywhere it can imagine. It’s like telling a child that it’s always best to say “please” and “thank you”, and the lesson he learns is to respond to any statement with “please” and “thank you”, including, “What’s your name?”, “Where are your parents?” and “You understand you can’t eat that because it’s not food, right?”

* Incidentally, we as a nation apologize to your arteries, Senator.

Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor
Jesse Taylor is an attorney and blogger from the great state of Ohio. He founded Pandagon in July, 2002, and has also served on the campaign and in the administration of former Ohio Governor Ted Strickland. He focuses on politics, race, law and pop culture, as well as the odd personal digression when the mood strikes.
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