Monday, September 29, 2008

Cracked and George Will

Many will be surprised to learn that I enjoy reading the columns of George Will in the back of Newsweek (I do not keep up with him in the Post, but probably should).

Will seems to me an unapologetic intellectual and elite in a country mad for "everyman" politicians (something the media tends to feed). Will is also an unapologetic conservative, but not a particularly social conservative... I'm not even sure what the term might be. Constitutional conservative? He seems to have a tremendous grasp of history, politics, the law, to a point where he seems endlessly put out that others are not as up on all of this stuff as he... but not in a snotty way. Just sort of in a way that charmingly informs the reader Will doesn't spend a lot of time drinking Bud Light at "Lefty's Bar & Grill".

For further evidence, up until recently, Will also thought it wasn't weird to wear a bow tie (which Tucker Carlson shamelessly tried to emulate with none of the panache).

Anyway, Will is a favorite of mine among conservative voices that I can read (or listen to on Sunday morning programs) who I feel is acutely interested in analysis on merit, not on sticking to talking points or bluster.

Anyway, I highly recommend checking out Will's recent column on the expectations of the public for the "common man" element in politics.

And this ALSO got me thinking about the other great voice of nuanced discussion, Cracked.com. Sometimes I think Cracked is having, perhaps, too much of a determining effect on both Randy and myself. But, anyway...

Cracked recently published a list of the six brainwashing techniques they're using on you EVEN NOW. Here's that article. Warning: The article is juvenile and strays into some territory our sensitive readers will find objectionable.

As the election cycle has been going on so long, I've been pondering how I've been absorbing the news, political messages, etc... The point about how headlines are written has especially hit home. I'm absolutely someone who skims newsfeeds and mostly picks out articles to read based on topic, and so I've become quite used to how news sources will frame their headlines. And, honestly, it kind of bugs me.

So why am I talking about George Will and Cracked in the same breath?

I know this is probably reaching levels of annoyance, but I think its important to take a look at not just what the politicians say and do, but how the press deals with the stories and frames them for us, both intentionally and otherwise. Will has taken the "common wisdom" perception of who we want in the White House to task of seeking just plain folks versus seeking the best and brightest (not that McCain or Obama aren't best and brightest, but its about perception), and I think challenges a single issue pretty convincingly.

But I think the Cracked list, goofy as it might be, is worth reading just once to compare against how we blindly accept ideas and how they seem to creep in to our subconscious. Sure, the article is a bit blue (this is Cracked.com, after all), and some of it is pretty obvious, but in our media-saturated world, where the election and bias are pushing both the parties and the press to find advantage anywhere, its always good to take a mo' to consider how your chain is being yanked.

None of this is probably new to the readers here, but why not take a break from the news cycle a bit and look at what your news source of choice is telling you, and what your candidate of choice is telling you about the opposition? And if they're willing to use ham-handed propaganda now, what are they going to do for 4-8 years running the free world?

Anyhoo... When you get to #1 (no, not the first #1, for which I can only apologize to our more sensitive readers), I think that's whats at the crux of the matter... I leave our less sensitive readers to read on.

6 comments:

Steanso said...

While I tend to like George Will more than most conservative commentators, I question your assertion that the man doesn't come off as snobby. He's definitely a smart guy, but I frequently feel that his intellectual strength often arrives with an air of condescension and disdain. Nonetheless, even when I find Will sort of snobby, I much prefer his intellectual snobbery to the soundbite slinging, selective reality employing conniptions of many conservative pundits. Plus, George Will will do anything to squeeze a baseball metaphor or some baseball trivia into a discussion. It's not all about baseball, George.

Anonymous said...

George Will is my hero.
-Denise

The League said...

If that were true, you would begin wearing bow ties to demonstrate your solidarity.

Steanso said...

Geroge Will had a long, colorful article in Newsweek this week that was all about the demise of election day. It was full of convoluted writing and well-worded, but weak arguments (apparently Gerge Will doesn't think that the ability to avoid 3 or 4 hour lines is a good enough reason to allow early voting- and he made some kind of argument that only lazy people vote early or through absentee ballots, although he had earlier said that people who tend to vote early tend to be more educated, interested, informed voters). In the end, I think it was basically a pitch for election day voting, primarily on the basis of nostalgia- a kind of silly argument, but you would hardly notice with all of Will's flowery language and irrelevant anecdotes.

Anonymous said...

Bow ties are sexy.
-Denise

The League said...

Your husband has a drawer full of unworn bow ties you've bought him, doesn't he?