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I'm so bored with George Bush. And his wife. And his Vice-President. Everyone in that whole administration is so nicey-nice and "why can't we all just get along" that it's pathetic. I realize that this is good for the nation - but it's bad for columnists. Even the liberals have to work to come up with an interesting column about these people. The last straw was Bushy inviting Ted Kennedy and Co. to watch movies and cook out. Sheesh! Next he'll be smooching Sheila Jackson-Lee on national TV. (Oops, forgot - he already did that.)
So back I go to the subject of Bill Clinton. He and his cronies have always fascinated me, even while I deplored their behavior. He kept our minds so occupied with prurient issues that we didn't have to do any work to find out what was going on in the US. Didn't have to learn any new terminology; didn't have to concern ourselves with policies. Clinton was the "National Enquirer" President - Bushy is more like the "Wall Street Journal" President. When he's not being the "Ladies Home Journal" President. It's all so Norman Rockwell I can hardly stand it.
In order to understand the Clinton phenomenon, you must first understand a bit about human nature and what makes people react. Since my background is in advertising and I've been trained to within an inch of my life in this field, I feel qualified to address this topic.
Why does Skippy peanut butter taste best? Because Annette Funicello told us it does. And if you have a credible personality telling people the same thing over and over, eventually it sinks in and becomes the truth. There's an old saying in advertising: Perception is reality. We remember Annette as a Mouseketeer and Frankie's girl - she would never lie to us, would she? Of course not - she's America's Sweetheart. In advertising, image is everything.
Bill Clinton is an ad hag's dream - attractive, personable, affable, radiates warmth, comfortable telling lies. He's like that Snuggle bear that keeps trying to get you to buy fabric softener. Now we all know that the Snuggle bear isn't real, he's merely a media creation, BUT we'll take that stuffed bear's word for it when it comes to fabric softener because he's so charming. And so it is with Bill Clinton.
Politicians are a product - an item that people will either buy or snub - and whether they achieve brand-name recognition or languish on the shelves depends on how they're marketed. Television ads do a decent job of selling a politician or a political agenda, but the real purveyors of public opinion are the major news media. We the People have the perception that the mainstream news media, just like Annette, is credible and non-biased - which stems from a different advertising campaign. So they are in an excellent position to tell us what to think, saving us the bother of having to think for ourselves.
The media created Bill Clinton - they made him bigger than life, the Elvis of the political set. They tried to do the same thing with Al Gore, but Gore just didn't have the natural skills and personality to make it believable - sort of like casting Richard Gere as Indiana Jones, it doesn't work. And like New Coke, we will accept no substitutes for the Real Thing. Even so, the media's portrayal of him was so relentlessly favorable that he almost won the election. Al Gore was depicted as this brilliant Harvard graduate when, in fact, his grades were mediocre at best and he actually "dropped" out of Vanderbilt because of poor performance. By contrast, Bushy was portrayed as bumbling, inept, and juvenile, possibly with a learning disorder. And most of us believed it, because the "unbiased and impartial" media said so.
Yes, Clinton was a rock star for a while but now the product-pushers have turned against him. As we grew wistful for a kinder, gentler nation, Clinton became off-trend and Ronald Reagan was back in the news. And Bushy's handlers played right into that nostalgia by marketing him as a throw-back to the good old days when we didn't have to hear the words "oral sex" in connection with our President.
But I still miss our errant Billy and the excitement he generated. This new and improved product is going to require some attitude change on my part. He's too warm, too genuine, too likeable, too sincere.
Just like that Snuggle bear...
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