Sunday, January 13, 2008

Changing toons

Frank Rich's column about Hillary Clinton and "change" is particularly inane this morning. I don't know what it is about Clinton that makes the big time journalists start chugging the stupid pills.

It's been a hoot watching all the bigwigs in both politics and media engage in a pissing contest to see who can invoke the word "change" the most. Rich's point, to the extent he has one, seems to be that Clinton is not the candidate of change, and that that's a bad thing. A very bad thing. Change, you see, is good. Clinton, you see, is bad.

But what does he mean by "change?" Probably not the same thing most people mean. To take one example:

This presentation of the liberal catechism reached its apotheosis in a Clinton campaign ad in December. Mrs. Clinton was shown doling out Christmas presents labeled “Universal Health Care” and “Alternative Energy” before delivering the punch line, “Where did I put universal pre-K?”

For Rich, universal health care, alternative energy, and universal pre-K are just the same old, same old. Hillary has been using those terms for years. He's heard it all before. No change there.

Yet for people on the ground, to have a government that ensured decent health care, intelligent energy policy and a better education system, would represent a radical change. And perhaps regular folk have a deeper definition of "change" than "what a person's been saying" as well.
The overall message uniting the small-bore promises, such as it was, remains unchanged today: competence, experience, wonky proficiency.

Hillary's message, you see, is unchanged. She is unchanged. And people want what? People want change!

Rich seems unable to comprehend the fact that competence, experience and wonky proficiency are attributes that represent the greatest possible change from Bush. When he first ran for President, Bush's inexperience and lack of in-depth knowledge about any and all subjects outside of baseball were presented as good things. And although he was presented as competent, he had a long history of failure going in and he's the all-time American champion of miserable failure going out.

So while Rich and the other media nabobs ponder the possibility that "change" means "someone other than Bush," they don't seem to realize that it might have something to do with his staggering incompetence. They seem more inclined to believe that people have grown tired of him because he's been around for eight or nine years and keeps saying the same things.

While it's true, they concede, that Hillary Clinton is not the exact same person as Bush, she is, they insist, part of the Bush/Clinton dynasty. Hillary Clinton, gasp, has been around even longer than Bush! She and Bush have been around forever! They are practically the same person! And they keep saying the same things!

The fact that the things Hillary Clinton keeps saying represent true and significant change doesn't enter into the conversation.

Obama, on the other hand, represents change. He is a uniter, not a divider. Ummmm. No wonky spiels. Ummmm. At least he has a history of competence, not that that counts. Maybe it's because he looks different? That's the kind of "change" we're talking about! Let's give him a few months before he has to change what he says.

The way Rich and the media-politico in crowd keep changing the definition of "change," it's difficult to know what a presidential candidate should do to "change" in a way that suits them. Mitt Romney changes what he says all the time and he doesn't get any love. And as shallow as they are, you'd think that a different hairstyle or wardrobe would represent acceptable change, but a poor politician has to be careful how much he or she pays for that coif. And what to wear? All we know is that you're not allowed to save the earth if you all of a sudden start wearing earth tones.