Yet another reason why I really should be a journalist: so that people don't have to read the editorial diarrehea synicated columnist Bridget Johnson turns out week after week.
In her column, "Forget issues -- presidential candidates will have to be hip, funky and fly for '08," Johnson suggests that voters care more about how cool presidential candidates than their positions on political issues.
- Demeans the intelligence of average Americans.
- Is based upon the notion that Americans shape their political priorities by the same criteria demanded to choose high school Homecoming royalty.
- Is utter bullshit.
While Johnson does cite legitimate examples of candidates reaching out to be cool (appearances on 'The Daily Show,' swanky Web sites and MySpace pages, and staking celebritity endorsements), Johnson fails to connect the synapses and point out how these are just altered tactics of the same, decades-old strategy: connecting to the average American.
"I Like Ike" buttons, national tours by train, televised debates -- all of these marketing methods were meant to connect candidates to average Americans. Now that Average Joe has a MySpace page and trusts Jon Stewart more than Brian Williams, candidates must adapt to remain visible. I actually don't think this makes candidates any more "cool," per say (I'm not suddenly taking style lessons from John McCain), but it does make them more accessible and relatable.
Johnson seems to be distracted by the 24-hour news cycle she contributes to and doesn't step off her hamster wheel to realize that the issues she dismisses in her column, ("Iraq war, gay rights, immigration, Iran, stem cells, yadda yadda") do matter to people who are especially affected by them.
Healthcare matters to people who don't have it. Jessica Simpson appearing at a fundraiser matters to people who don't have the capacity to understand that her endorsement means absolutely nothing to the political landscape of this country. As Matt Wood would say, "Shoot them all and let God sort them out."
Perhaps Johnson should realize that mainstream Americans aren't as dense and celebritized as she is, and have enough stamina to filter through the media blitz to learn about candidates' values and align them with their own to make educated voting decisions.
And if I'm wrong, thank God we have an Electoral College.