Snarky Behavior

YouTube, John Edwards and Noam Chomsky

July 25, 2007 · 1 Comment

This isn’t a “walk into a bar” joke (I’m not sure how youtube could even walk into a bar. But I did watch a dog hump a duck on youtube yesterday. Duck was not loving it).

You know what I didn’t watch on youtube yesterday? The presidential debates. I didn’t watch them on CNN either.

Why wouldn’t I care to watch our likely next president engage in an unprecedented populist format of political discourse? Because it all seemed rather silly.

To me, the idea creates the false illusion that our country’s leaders actually care about/listen to the concerns of the unwashed masses. And it unnecessarily prolongs meaningless political debate and gum-flapping FAR before the election, while important national discussions of are being fillibustered back here in Washington.

Sure, maybe the format makes the issues more genuinely accessible, even if the candidates are falsely so. But still, the whole thing reeks of a boardroom decision made by some lame executive who saw Seth Grodin speak excitedly on something or another and took it to heart.

Now, I am on somewhat of a populist binge of late, so it may strike you as inconsistent that I would thumb my nose at something so democratic (or at least, on its face). But the range of issues, especially amongst Democrats, is so narrow. And all of the good ideas are being proposed by John Edwards, anyway (he’s angry, and he’s on your side).

I don’t want to be too dismissive here, because he really appeals to me— but how far can a former trial lawyer/hedge-funder who gets outrageously expensive haircuts carry that message?

The “Youtube as a populist outlet” debate– in the middle of a larger national debate on when/how/why we should withdraw out of Iraq– also reminded me of something Noam Chomsky mentioned in Manufacturing Consent, on the difficulties of selling the blue-collar class the necessities of war, mainly because they tend to be too emotive. Of the Vietnam War, he states:

One reason that propaganda often works better on the educated than on the
uneducated is that educated people read more, so they receive more propaganda.
Another is that they have jobs in management, media, and academia and therefore
work in some capacity as agents of the propaganda system–and they believe what
the system expects them to believe. By and large, they’re part of the privileged
elite, and share the interests and perceptions of those in power.

Now again, I like Edwards… but how is he the “populist” in the crowd? Doesn’t anyone remember Howard Dean?

In Chomsky’s terms, isn’t there anyone who will debate the war not on its strategic failures, but on its moral ones?

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