Thursday, March 27, 2008
Moral Reprobation and the Art of Branding
The press today – and by that I suppose we shall have to include such organs of the media as YouTube and MyLeftNutmeg – is exceedingly concerned with moral reprobation. For those who do not know, MyLeftNutmeg is a hard hitting leftist blog site in Connecticut. It’s good to be hard, bad to be soft. I do not mean to single out my honorable brothers on the left here for… well… moral reprobation; all this is merely by way of example.
MyLeftNutmeg receives the bulk of its political ethic, such as it is, from other blog sites, MoveOn.org and the Huffington Post, for example; proving, once and for all, that the press – or the media, as some would prefer – is 10% thought and 90% repetition.
It is important not to underestimate the power of repetition -- as a propaganda tool. Lenin said that if you label something effectively, you do not have to argue with it; this includes both people and propositions.
People who have been labeled effectively within the past month include the not-so Reverend Jeremiah Wright (bigot), Elliot Spitzer (moral degenerate) and, President George Bush (monumental liar).
Bush’s moral posturing has made him a handy target of the left; enough moral discourtesy has been heaped upon this dead horse over the last year to sink the Titanic.
Labeling things effectively seems to have been a specialty of the Rev. Wright. He has labeled the enemies of Sen. Barack Obama, particularly Sen. Hillary Clinton, as insufficiently black, this despite the fact that Toni Morrison, the black poet, once labeled the senator’s husband, former president Bill Clinton, as “the first black president,” which would make Mrs. Clinton, should she succeed in recapturing the White House for her clan, the admittedly “white” wife of the nation’s first black “First Husband.”
The Rev. Wright met his Waterloo, so to speak, when he dammed America, fled to Africa to escape the media hammering and then, no student of subtleties, accused Italian Americans, the “garlic nosed” sons of Amerigo Vespucci after whom the country he denigrated was named, of being insufficiently black and therefore incapable of appreciating fully the black experience in the nation he unreservedly damned.
Elliot Spitzer, who, as it turned out, had a not uncommon problem in his nether regions, was roundly condemned by the press not so much for being insufficiently chaste as for being a hypocrite – than which no greater sin can be conceived. Moderns hate chastity, on principle. They also hate hypocrisy, a reflex action.
In fact, hypocrisy is the only sin the press regularly deplores. It is the first and only commandment of a media that depends on (if the synthetic word may be forgiven) “truthiness.”
The media’s product is facts, more adorned than unadorned these days. Lying distorts facts. Hypocrisy is a species of lying. While others may consider hypocrisy to be the compliment vice pays to virtue, hypocrisy remains the original sin of an institution that cannot see any virtue in virtue. If the press, declaiming against one of its usual targets, sometimes speaks in the accents of an unforgiving Puritan, it is because it sees no virtue in hypocrisy – only vice. Mercy understands hypocrisy; justice does not. Mercy understands that men may fall away from the virtue they never-the-less approve. The glowering Puritan, on evidence of a single instance of hypocrisy, will deny the reprobate ever loved virtue. The Puritan’s problem is that he does not believe in a hierarchy of virtue – or sin; every sin is a descent into Hell, and every sin obliterates the possibility of virtue.
When the Puritan in the politician begins to fume and rage, the average American (named, it cannot often enough be recalled, after the great Florentine) can almost be certain that that the rage is supported by some nefarious, possibly hypocritical political purpose.
Having invested a great deal of emotional and psychic energy in her quest for the presidency, Hillary Clinton, sometimes compared unfavorably to Lady Macbeth, naturally wishes to be president.
That such grand desires may sometimes get in the way of truthiness is to be expected in frail, stumbling humans such the wife of the first black president, and we ought not to be surprised that Obama, possibly the nation’s second black president, should also be subject to all the frailties flesh is heir to, despite his current standing in the nation’s press as a kind of secular messiah fully capable of delivering the rest of us from the stain of racism, if not hypocrisy.