Monday, March 26, 2007

Image Over Substance

Perusing the conservative blogosphere this morning, this caught my eye. To an extent, all candidates are chosen based on their image. It's why Barack Obama or Rudy Giuliani may someday be President, and Dennis Kucinich never will. What I found interesting is that these people at one of the leading Conservative blogs apparently see nothing wrong with that, and are in fact downright giddy about it:

In a sense, then, [Fred] Thompson looks like the perfect blend of the Allen/Frist/Romney/Gingrich and McCain/Giuliani "factions." He seems to combine the conservatism of the former cluster with at least some of the popularity and stature of the latter pairing. This is not to suggest that Thompson is a national hero like McCain and Giuliani. But in addition to a long and distinguished record of public service, he has the good fortune to play a distinguished public servant on television. Millions of Americans see Thompson exercise sound judgment every week as the district attorney on "Law and Order." I'm reliably informed that the show's creator, Dick Wolf, developed the persona of this fictional D.A. specifically for Thompson, and that the actor/politician protects his image by pushing back when he thinks his lines don't portray him in the proper light. But the point isn't whether we're seeing the real Fred Thompson on the show; the point is that, if Thompson runs, millions of America will see the character when they see the candidate, and to that extent will like what they see.


Anonymous said...

Sad thing is, it'd probably work.

Paul said...

Oh, for Pete's sake - when did this become another Democrat/Republican conservative/liberal differentiating issue? What amazes me is it's being portrayed as a differentiating issue, as if conservatives are giddy and liberals are dejected because they would never, ever think this is a "bad" thing.

Both sides play the "image" issue and think it's good if it leads to a win. Look at all the carefully scripted speeches and sound bites, the avoidance of any interviews that may require a followup question to a sound bite, the "I'm a woman, I'll even bake cookies" Hillary's doing. It's all about the tricky business of softening her image while at the same time making it seem she's tough on foreign issues, really likes and gets along with the military (hmmm, I wonder if on the next trip to the White House she'll let the military assigned there wear uniforms?) but is also a nurtuing, motherly type. It's a tough job for the image-makers, but they're doing their best.

Image, image, image. Yes, I agree - both sides play it. Yes, I disagree - it's not just conservative operatives who see nothing wrong with it - as long as their candidate wins.

One last point - many conservatives are attracted to Obama, regardless of his voting record. He made some good points in his book. Maybe voters are just flat-out sick of the last decade of politicization and think someone who speaks his mind and speaks of national (not political) interest is worth a try? Same reason all this harping on divorce, family values, etc by a conservative wedge of Republicans and the suddenly-moral wedge of ultraliberal Democrats is not working with the voters who are tired of the partisanship.