Past Rant VIII

“SoundBite Nation”

Whenever I watch the news it is surprising to me how short it is. All the commercials make me feel like I’m watching a digital bulletin board. I know what people will say, “How do you expect the media companies to pay for everything, and there is so much to report on anyway – what do you expect?” Fair enough. I guess there is a balance to be struck. So I understand when newsbits are like 30 seconds, and they don’t give the full account of what someone says. Still I feel we have become a SoundBite nation. We are so accustomed to not hearing the full story that we automatically believe the 30 seconds that is fed to us, and never ask, “What else is out there?” There is more out there, and if we want the full story we have to go and look for it otherwise we will only get the 30 seconds that we see on corporate television every night, and or morning.

Now I know what some people might say, “I already have a full schedule with work and kids and such things…I don’t have time to actually look for the full story…I have to trust what I hear from the nightly and morning news.” I feel your anguish. Life is tough. But it will be a lot tougher if you make a bad decision based on 30 seconds of life. All I heard being played on various news programs in 2000 were bites like, “…he’s a great guy who I can share a drink with,” OR “…compassionate conservatism is what I believe-in,” OR “…I’m a uniter not a divider.” People believed that, and look where it got us. 8 years later and we are paying for a soundbite decision.

My focus here is not to Bush bash because I do that enough. What I want to speak to is how the media continues portray the relationship between Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Barack Obama. I also want to comment on this idea that Obama is out of touch with “lunchpale-blue collar white voters.”

We see a few minutes of incendiary sermon from Reverend Wright and we paint him as a radical black leader who is un-American. I’m not saying he wasn’t offensive. I can see how people would feel offended. That said, if you take a look at what the United States really does in terms of foreign policy and national security/military policy you might change your mind. I’m not justifying the killing of innocents like 9/11, but what I’m saying is if you dig deeper and look at different perspectives you can see why someone might believe what happened on 9/11 was just retaliation against the thousands of innocent lives the United States destroyed in the name of spreading democracy and giving freedom to oppressed peoples. It may seem to some that the United States lends its wealth and military might to situations that directly benefit its bottomline.

That said, that was Reverend Jeremiah Wright saying that, not Barack Obama. Even if you listen to the 30 second clips of Obama rebutting the Reverend’s remarks you should know that Obama has no connection to such things. You should know that Obama is a man who is patriotic and forthright. You should know that Barack Obama is a man of substance. Reverend Wright is his own man and Barack is his own man. People change over time. Barack has changed, as has Reverend Wright. Barack is right in saying that the Wright of today is not the same Wright of 20 years ago. I don’t see that as political posturing, or excusing.

The next, and last, thing I want to say is how people in the media keep saying that Barack is all about process and not about practice – he’s out of touch with blue-collar Americans. Again, we see those 30 second clips of him just talking about changing Beltway Politics, and not talking about the actual practical steps. Well, if you delve a bit deeper (just go to his website – – and you will get more substance and practicality than you could possibly absorb) you’ll see that he interlaces his visionary statements with actually policy. He speaks to people with a degree of eloquence and education that is sorely needed. He also, dishes the real, and tells it like it is. People in politics call that political suicide, but if we look between the lines we will see that he is speaking a truth that many people understand and connect with. Check it out – he’s won states like Minnesota, Kansas, Wyoming, Idaho, Texas (the Caucus), Maine, South Carolina, Missouri, Wisconsin, Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, Utah, Alabama, Mississippi, the list goes on. Who is this guy out of touch with? Theses states make up a variety of people. Look at all the polls you want, once people get to know him and he has a chance to lay some inroads people go his way.

The one thing I would recommend for Obama is that he put some hardcore details into all that eloquent process talk. I’ve heard him do both, so I don’t know why he doesn’t do it every chance he gets. He was on FOX News Sunday and tried to focus on the fact that he cut down Hillary’s lead in Pennsylvania when he should have been highlighting the hardcore reasons people should be voting for him, or why similar-to-Pennsylvania-demographics have voted for him. Still I believe anyone who really listens past those 30 second snippets of him relayed from news show to news show will see that he is the candidate for the future.

My final word for the day is…Look past the 30 seconds. Take the time to search for the full amount of information. Believe it or not there is enough time to do this. I am engaged with teaching and supporting a small business with my wife. It all adds up, but I find time to search and digest the full-amount of information I need to make a proper decision. Remember, media outlets give you the juicy-sexy story. And those are coming at soundbite status. Don’t fall into that trench. Rise up and see what is really out there. You won’t get your head blown off, or maybe you just might, and it will the beginning of a new and fulfilling life. Take the risk.

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