Monday, March 03, 2008

When All is Said and Done

When the doors close tomorrow night, and everyone has had their say, we will know one thing. We will know whether pure communication without depth, without questioning from the media, truly can defeat facts, political knowledge and experience.

In France, this experiment ended with the communication monster winning the presidential election. Nicolas Sarkozy who, no matter all the bad things that can be said and argued against him, has a hell of a talent when it comes to selling himself and advertising himself, was elected president.

He was elected president because his was a message of change, of “rupture” with the past. He promised he’d do things in another way. He promised he’d unite all the good, capable and competent actors of the political life. He promised he’s put an end to partisanship, that he’d end the left-right wars. He promised people he was like them, he wanted the same things they did. He painted himself as the embodiment of people’s hopes, and also as the embodiment of people’s rejection of politicians and politics in general.

And he won. By a wide margin.

It was in May, 2007.

Today, less than a year after his entrance in the Elysee palace, his popularity numbers have plummeted. Already, people are fed up with him, with his antics, and with the “nothing gets done” reality that his promises have turned out to be.

The partisan wars are worse than ever. People’s lives are getting worse. Politics have done anything but change. And France is the laughingstock of Europe, when it’s not the pain in the ass of Europe.

Having watched both political campaigns until now, in France and in the US, one can’t help but be struck by the similarity between the two. In both, a candidate with a very clear talent for rhetoric, and gifted with incredible charisma. In both, a candidate with a rather empty, populist and pleasing message, who knows how to say what people want to hear.

The possibility that what happened in France will happen in the US is appalling. The result is known, and it’s not a bright or good one. Of course, here the difference is that what’s at stake is the Democratic nomination. The winner will have to face John Mc Cain. And with Mr Nader’s candidacy, all bets are in favour of Mr Mc Cain winning when opposed to Mr Obama.

Of course, the above reasoning may sound ludicrous to Obama supporters, but they should take a step back, and consider this: up until now, the media have been after Mrs Clinton’s hide, while fawning and gushing all over Mr Obama. Anyone who’d protest that would do well to get a good reality check, because the wake-up call will be most brutal. If Mr Obama becomes the Democratic candidate, this will change. Journalists will start doing their job again. They’ll investigate. They’ll ask questions. They’ll scrutinize Mr Obama’s record. And things will go downhill from there, helped along by gentle pushes from the Republicans.

There is a way to thwart all that the media and the Republicans have planned and forecast, and that is for Hillary Rodham Clinton to win in Ohio and Texas tomorrow.

Take a good, long look at France as it is today, and think twice before you cast your ballot, or join the Obama group. Think twice, or you might very well end up like France. And you really, really don’t want that to happen.

Also, check out today’s opinion piece by Paul Krugman in the New York Times.

And tomorrow, think. Do not swoon.

Just think.

Good night, and good luck.

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