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Posted by on Sep 11, 2008 in Politics | 9 comments

Synthetic Outrage

I’m a little wary of even trying to say anything about the whole “lipstick” affair, because it seems to only give what I think is a trivial issue more strength. But, Clive Crooks says it best:

One wonders how much lower this election can sink. The furore over “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig” sets a new benchmark. The idea that Barack Obama seriously intended to call Sarah Palin a pig is surely absurd. Yes, it was a stupid thing to say; and yes, many people in his audience enjoyed the implication; but I would be amazed if it was not just an injudicious unscripted remark. The Republican outrage over it is wholly synthetic. The Democratic outrage over the Republican outrage is mostly synthetic too–though not entirely, because there is some genuine anger over the way the race is going mixed in.

The Democrats urgently need to get a grip on this. When they rage at unfair Republican tactics, part of that fury unavoidably spills over into anger at the electorate for being so gullible as to fall for it. Far better to rise above this sort of stuff, and radiate confidence that the electorate will see through it. If Obama gets angry at the electorate, or can even be plausibly accused of it, he is finished.

Memo to McCain campaign:
Stop pretending that you’re outraged. You know Obama didn’t mean it.

Memo to the Obama campaign:
Stop pretending you’re outraged at the outrage. You should have ignored what amounts to nothing.

Memo to the media, bloggers and the general public:
Stop talking about this issue as if it were of grand importance. It isn’t and, by pretending that it is, you are giving this non-story legs it doesn’t deserve.

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