Friday, August 29, 2008

And Now, The News In Brief

I had some short things to say about recent news items that might be more important than people and their waning map reading skills. Seeing as I am a bit of a cartophile (my Master's thesis was based largely on critical reading of maps), I didn't think it was not important at all.

So, here are some news items and my (hopefully) short takes on them.
  • Now that we are between the conventions (Obama Media Love-In over, Mc Cain Scowl Fest to come), I think it is time to remind everyone of something before we all get carried away. Politics has, and has always had, elements of the theatrical at its very core. Statecraft is really stagecraft in large part. From displays at the courts of medieval and early modern Europe, to the grand architecture of government buildings throughout the ages to grand speeches and proclamations, the political leader is at once actor and policy maker. Ideally, the conventions should have not told you anything that you didn't already know. It is really all an act, put on to put powerful images in your brain and associate them with a particular person. It is branding at its best. I have always said that advertising is the great American art form, and no-where is this clearer than during an American political party convention.
  • A while back, Greg asked if I thought that Europe was ready for a leader of color. My answer was no, and that the US was more ready on that score. We discussed the matter (over Blatz, naturally) and came to the conclusion that it would so gall the Europeans to admit that we elected a black leader before they did. That means, in a certain sense, we are more progressive than them. Can you imagine the French, Dutch, Germans or any of them admitting that through clenched, non-floridated teeth? Well, this article in The Guardian may be proof of just that. Give it a read and tell us what you think.
  • While all of this convention mishegoss was going on, the world rolled on. Or to be more specific, Russian tanks rolled on into Georgia. There was an excellent piece in the Financial Times that I think gives a good read of the situation. I particularly agree with the point that Russia's claims of victimhood after the collapse of the USSR are rubbish. I also agree with the notion that when empire is lost, shame and disgrace are common feelings. Think of the British after, say, the Suez Crisis in 1956. Russia is losing friends and is blaming everyone but themselves. Keep an eye on this situation, folks. It could continue to get interesting.

No comments: