Got a political problem? Of late, it seems that mere theatrics offer up the easiest solution. Just bring in a few political props and people are guaranteed to think better of you! Or not.
Got a political problem? Of late, it seems that mere theatrics offer up the easiest solution. Just bring in a few political props and people are guaranteed to think better of you!
The most egregious offender of late has been Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who hours after being impeached showed up before TV cameras in the pressroom of his Chicago office building. On the platform behind the podium stood a crowd of elderly, ill, downtrodden and impoverished folks waiting for the guv to describe how he was going to "fight for them" and make their lives better.
It was hardly the first time this governor has attempted to exploit others for personal cover. Last year, when Blagojevich was trying to duck reporters' questions about alleged pay-to-play schemes outside his Capitol office, he called out to a passing tour group of schoolkids and got them to surround him like a human shield of cuteness and innocence.
It's not just Blagojevich. George W. Bush trotted out an array of ordinary folks for the cameras to point to during his farewell address, stories of success from Hurricane Katrina and service in Iraq. All recent presidents going back to Ronald Reagan - the originator of this tactic - have done the same during State of the Union addresses, stretching the already-long speeches to the breaking point.
Arguably these are just cheap appeals to emotion, shameless pandering to score political points. Does anybody really buy it anymore? Savvy viewers know they're props, the people themselves know they're props.
Sadly, families aren't immune, either, from political wives standing by their men through scandal or political children towed along on the campaign trail for those precious photo-ops. Consider how noteworthy it is when someone doesn't play along, as in the case of former Democratic vice presidential nominee John Edwards' son. Jack Edwards, then a 4-year-old, wanted to be a normal, squirming, playful kid, not a smiling cardboard cutout watching his proud papa.
At a time of change in national and state politics, and before local campaigns get into full swing, we have one simple request: Let's have a prop-free zone for politicians. Try to convince us with words and actions, facts and figures. In other words, stand on your own, no crutches necessary.
Peoria Journal Star