Senator Ted Cruz’s recent pseudo-filibuster, and
President Obama’s just-made speech revealing he
spoke by telephone with the president of Iran, are
just the latest examples of high-level public relations,
spin and hype by top leaders of both parties, almost
all of them an attempt to gain psychological political
advantage using the media. Most of it, frankly, is
illusionary, and despite its melodrama, leads to
very little of substance.
The purpose of Senator Cruz’s gambit was not to
stop Obamacare, as it was advertised, but to assure
himself a place in the Republican conservative
leadership and, probably as well, put himself high on
the list of names being considered for the GOP
nomination for president in 2016.
The purpose of President Obama’s press conference
about his phone conversation with the president of
Iran does not mean that any agreement with Iran
regarding its nuclear weapons development is even
one iota closer. It was an attempt by Mr. Obama to
regain some of the credibility of his leadership in
foreign affairs which has been significantly lost in the
past two years.
Nor should their be any illusion by recent efforts by
Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, former
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Senator Marco
Rubio of Florida, Vice President Joe Biden and other
politicians of both parties, to grab headlines and TV
news spots to propel themselves into 2016 presidential
attention or regain standing for declining public
Of course, such behavior is, and has always been, a
normal occurrence in American politics. Before the
advent of television and the internet, the media used
were newspapers, magazines and radio news.
But whether it takes place in the 19th century, the 20th
century, or the 21st century, it is necessary to remember
it is public relations, spin and hype. It is also necessary
to remember that all is not illusion, but that true substance
of events usually takes place behind the scenes, without
much hoop-la, and is revealed to the public over time.
As I have previously pointed out, there is not going to be
any real government shut-down, Obamacare will not be
defunded unless the Republicans take back control of
the senate in the 2014 mid-term elections, and the
current policies of the Obama administration are not
going to lead to any meaningful settlement with Iran.
Of course, all public speeches and statements are not
necessarily illusory and entirely self-promoting. But the
current state of press bias and media hyper-concentration
makes the ability to discern the puffery from the true to be
very problematic. This is the shame and responsibility of
our contemporary media establishment.
Getting public attention for one’s personal and policy
ambitions, restoring lost political credibility, and running
for higher and higher office are absolutely normal and
proper actions in our democratic republic. In themselves,
there is nothing wrong or bad or improper.
But to take them at face value, to promote them as true
and real, especially in the burgeoning illusory
communications environment of contemporary
society is asking for trouble.
Copyright (c) 2013 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.