Yesterday morning, as news of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s love child crowded out reports on gang injunctions, PG&E pipe replacement, and the state budget, we asked the question:
Readers responded both in this blog’s comments section and on our Facebook page. KQED News Online Community Engagement Specialist Ian Hill put together some of the responses, which you can view below. (Most clever boy-he-walked into that one answer courtesy of Cyndy: “No- It’s an ‘illegitimate’ news story.)
Let me offer this addendum to yesterday’s post, as well. It’s not an original point but it’s one I agree with.
More than ever, when insiders talk about politics, they use the language of marketing. Thus, we are told that in California, the biggest problem for state Republicans is the tarnishing of their “brand.” Today, wrapped up in any transaction between voter and vote-getter is the personal narrative — some might call it “mythology” — being sold to one by the other. KQED’s John Myers touched on this in a pre-election blog post last year, in which he interviewed Joe Mathews, co-author of the book California Crackup, an exploration of how California has become, in the writers’ view, ungovernable. Discussing the gubernatorial candidates, Mathews had this to say:
“The central argument for both candidacies is personal and, I believe, depends on magic,” said Joe Mathews, journalist and author of a new comprehensive book about the state’s broken system of governance. “Jerry Brown possesses special magic because of his long experience in government. And Meg Whitman apparently possesses special magic because she comes from Silicon Valley, which is a magical place.”
That’s not too dissimilar from what the guy who’s leaving the job promised in 2003.
That, to me, says a lot. When during a campaign the policy positions and ideas of how to carry those out are presented as mere after-thoughts, subservient to a carefully cultivated image resonant of “magic,” then perhaps it’s only natural that any event impacting that presentation will become news, even if it occurs after that politician is no longer in office. As the previously indomitable athlete — and pitchman — Tiger Woods found out, when what you have sold to the public is yourself, many people will never grow weary of kicking your tires, maybe hoping for a retroactive refund.