Both energy-things and spirit values are colored by their interpretation through the mind media of consciousness. —The Urantia Book
[T]he content of a medium is like the juicy piece of meat carried by the burglar to distract the watchdog of the mind. – Alvin Toffler, Future Shock
In the clip below, Dan Abrams takes a Repug congressman to task for questioning Obama’s patriotism. But it’s what happening on an unconscious level that concerns me here.
Notice that in the first few seconds of the set-up, Abrams mis-characterizes what’s going on in the picture. Obama, Richardson, and Clinton are standing in front of a US flag,* the latter two standing behind Obama with their hands over their hearts. Abrams says that Obama had “his hands down when the pledge of allegiance was being played.”
Wrong. It was the National Anthem that was being “played.” Putting one’s hand over one’s heart during the anthem is not a matter of convention at all, as anyone who’s ever attended a professional sports event can testify.
Let’s give Abrams the benefit of the doubt that he wasn’t consciously sabotaging his own argument here. What he did accomplish, at an unconscious level, was to propagate an element the right wing smear meme that Obama can’t be trusted because he’s not patriotic. And nothing the silver tongued Abrams can say subsequent to the set up is going to displace the symbolic impression of a presidential candidate who won’t place his hand over his heart when saying the pledge of allegiance.
This plays right into the Repugs media strategy of defining a candidate in the media before he can define himself. Witness what they were able to do to John Kerry in the 2004 election.
Kerry’s greatest strength was his status as a decorated Vietnam vet who had volunteered for duty. In contrast, one of the greatest weaknesses of his opponent was the latter’s own “service” record, which included being placed by his rich daddy into a champagne unit of the Air National Guard ahead of far more deserving candidates (and from which he was AWOL much of the time); opting out of a voluntary assignment to Vietnam; and forfeiting his million dollar taxpayer funded pilot’s by refusing to take a medical exam that, had it come back positive for drugs, would have resulted in his immediate transfer to the Army and to the front lines in Vietnam. Despite all this, by the time the Rovians were done sticking their propaganda needles into their Kerry voodo doll (with a huge assist from the MSM), he had become the villainous zombie and Bush the conquering hero.
This is all part and parcel of what cognitive scientist Dr. Drew Westen, author of “The Political Brain: The Role of Emotions in Deciding the Fate of the Nation,” describes as “a network of associations, bundles of thoughts, feelings, images, and ideas that have become connected over time.” In Westen’s terms, Rove succeeded in altering the components of the network of associations from which the candidates’ respective narratives were derived. Negative feelings that should have been directed at Bush were displaced and transferred wholesale to Kerry.
The same thing is happening to Obama now that he is emerging as the likely Democratic nominee. (For other components of the “network of associations” being used to define his “character,” see my previous post “The Manchurian Muslim Candidate.”)
It’s only after the virus of disinformation slips past the watchdog of the mind that its pernicious effects can be seen in the body politic. By then, it’s usually too late. As Foucualt would have put it, the representation of the reality displaces the reality itself.
The medium is still the message, Dan.
*The photo itself is almost certainly photochopped; Clinton was made to appear midget-sized next to Richardson, much more size distortion than could be reasonably assigned to a wide angle lens.