Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

We are not listening

The tackiest aspect of cable news is when, lacking anything of substance to report to us, they decide to take us “inside politics.”

They invite veteran political strategists (who may or may not have any real access to the Obama administration) to speculate on the president’s strategy and “what he may be thinking.” Instead of rendering any judgment on what our leaders should do, they play the “West Wing” game and try to guess a politician’s next move.

The latest example is the question of whether Obama is effectively communicating his health care plan to the American people.

The theories vary as to why the Democrats have failed. They have taken too much of a rhetorical high ground, spelling out arguments but not in a way that people can cognitively relate them to their own lives. They haven’t quelled fears of government takeover and Medicare cuts. They haven’t pointed out the failures of private insurance.

These points are all useful in that they hint at something—Americans are stupid— but they fall short, because they don’t fully represent how stupid we are.

The perfect example is Obama’s tax policy. The jean-shorts army marching on Washington and most of the call-ins on talk radio warn that Obama is slowly taxing citizens into indigence and business into outsourcing.

According to CBS and The New York Times, only 12 percent of Americans think Obama cut their taxes. About 24 percent thought Obama had raised taxes. But the stimulus bill cut taxes for 95 percent of Americans. One-third of the bill was tax cuts.

According to CNN’s experts (read: former politicians, election pimps and Carville-like TV whores), the problem is that Obama isn’t communicating his agenda, his problems or his accomplishments. Yes, he really should step up to the microphone and tell us about his economic policies. Like by speaking in a nationally syndicated, grand, constitutionally mandated address that all political dignitaries are required to attend. He should use the bulk of it to talk about economic policies, clearly stating, multiple times, that he cut taxes.

(I’m curious to know how many more people would be informed if CNN just briefly cut away from the hologram thingies and someone said, “Hey, did anybody notice that Obama cut taxes?”)

He could spar with Republicans for hours at their own conference, taking time to point out that he cut taxes. I know someone watched because MSNBC lauded it like it was Rocky beating the Russian. So, Obama tells us what he did in layman’s English over a speech that is on so many channels that it actually pisses people off. Then, he does a high-profile follow-up, which was also on multiple channels. And Americans don’t even understand the thing he strategically brags about the most? Then again, maybe if CNN didn’t use the entire “Situation Room” to approach Tiger Woods’ libido from 20 conceptual angles, people would be more likely to understand.

Given these staggering reports on American astuteness, let me suggest an alternative theory to why the Obama presidency has been largely on an inefficacious autopilot.

The media’s hypothetical notion of Obama being an ineffective president has become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Joe Borderline-Apathetic sits on the couch flipping rhythmically between some rerun of “The Office” and CNN. He lands on CNN one time long enough to hear Wolf Blitzer say, “Is the president not doing a good enough job of communicating his health care message?”

Joe says, “Well, then, ‘boo’ on Obama,” then catches the last half of “My Name is Earl.”

You better hope the Democrats can cut some shady, backdoor deal to pass health care, and if you’re a conservative, you better hope the Republicans do something similar to stop it, because the biggest lie in the media right now is that there will be some populist revolt either way.

That makes Americans seem way more informed than they actually are. This is a generation whose parents voted for a slow-talking cowboy because Al Gore’s lockbox monologue made their head hurt too much. Since then, we’ve been given a solipsistic tool Twitter.

It’s not Obama’s fault. I’m pretty sure if Obama pulled out a lengthy PowerPoint presentation on how insurance companies are operating on an unsustainable business model, you wouldn’t see students responding to it in a roundtable discussion at Wilhagan’s.

Josh Veazey is a senior majoring in telecommunication and film. His column runs on Wednesdays.

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