Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The GOP's prop-gag politics

Perhaps, after three years, Republicans are finally learning that, when Stephen Colbert's conservative-manqué character takes up one of their ideas and gleefully runs with it, it's time to re-evaluate:

Now the McCain campaign appears to be stepping back from one of its more childish school-yard taunts:

Republican John McCain appeared to back down on Tuesday in his dispute with his opponent Barack Obama over tire pressure.

Last week in St. Louis, Obama told an audience that steps such as inflating tires to the correct levels could make a difference when it comes to conserving fuel.

Cue gleeful mockery from McCain. Obama was naive, inexperienced and not talking straight to the American people about energy, he said.

His campaign went further, distributing to reporters tire gauges engraved with the words “Obama’s energy plan.”

Predictably, Obama hit back calling McCain’s mockery “ignorant,” arguing his plans were being misrepresented and saying that experts backed his call over tire pressure. Equally predictably, McCain’s camp hit back.

The surprise came during a telephone town hall meeting McCain held on Tuesday with voters in Pennsylvania.

“Obama said a couple of days ago says we all should inflate our tires. I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it,” McCain said.

But he kept up his broad criticism of Obama on energy: “I … don’t think that that (inflating tires) is a way to become energy independent.”

(The fact that Obama's claim was uncontroversially true, and that the Washington press corps knew it as well as any drivers education student, didn't stop the big media from treating this foolishness as "news" for several days. Republicans learned the effectiveness of purile ploys like this, and likelihood of the press's willing participation, with the "purple heart" Band-Aids mocking Kerry's war service in 2004.)

That being said, now that the bottom seems to be dropping out of the Obama Tire Gauge market, I want one for my car. If anyone reading this has the right connections to the GOP and can bag one for me, please let me know.

For reasons I can't explain, the modern GOP goes for these prop gag-driven gimmicks like it was the Party of Carrot Top--tire gauges, Band-aids, "flip-flop" beach sandals, jelly beans, and on and on. And there's one other, on which a favorite family story hangs:

In 1989, my uncle and aunt, both staunch Republicans and the aunt related to the Quayle family by marriage, were thrilled to be invited to the Bush/Quayle inaugural celebrations. One nighttime event gathered everyone on the Mall to celebrate Peggy Noonan's campaign slogan "a thousand points of light" (each point of light was theorized to represent one of the private or nonprofit entities that would step forward to pick up the slack caused by a decade of Republican domestic budget slashing).

At the culmination of the ceremony, when Bush uttered the tag line, each guest was to light and hold aloft one of the 40,000 commemorative Maglight flashlights donated by the manufacturer, each engraved with Bush and Quayle's names, the date, and "A Thousand Points of Light" (the flashlights were the points of light--get it?).

Think of it as a "Goodbye Norma Jean" moment for the non-Elton crowd.

All well and good--until my kinfolk discovered to their outrage that they were expected to shell out close to twenty bucks for their Maglight. Like all good Reagan Republicans, they were foursquare behind the whole thousand-points-of-light thing as long as it was clearly understood that it wasn't going to involve any outlay on their part. Out of affection and tact, the Democrats in our family only teased them about this story a little.

1 comment:

Chuck Butcher said...

Would that be kinda like a War nobody pays for?