Monday, September 27, 2010


There was and may still be an ad that played on TV several years ago. It was about a sales manager hyping up the sale staff to sell a bad product. Put some lipstick on this pig he admonishes them. It was not actually to be taken literally; it was a way to dress up the product and make it look good. In the specific case it was stocks, but it applies to all products and actions.

The thought that somewhere someone actually said such a thing is disconcerting. However I am reminded of the ad each electoral season. People like Newt Gingrich, G. W. Bush, B. Clinton, L. B. J and J. McCain, among others are immediately brought to mind. I have been voting for lo these many years and each time the candidate is shown in a larger-than-life size on the television, in the papers and even on the radio dressed properly and prepped with just the right things to say. It is only after they have either lost the election or been elected and served their terms that we discover they were no more imaginative or smarter than we are. Somehow they are portrayed by the media as super human people and we, the great unwashed believe them. There is something in the human psyche that allows us to accept an image of a person that is beyond reality; maybe it is the lipstick. Who can believe that Jimmy Carter or G. W. Bush or Clinton or G H.W. Bush or Nixon or Regan or Jack Kennedy or even today Obama were the anointed ones. Now that Obama is involved in solving our collective problems, he appears to be less of a superman. G. Ford was never was one of the bigger-than-life persons. They would never trip over their feet in public. He of course never ran for office of the president; he was appointed to fill Nixon’s remaining term; he never had to be polished and sold. Reagan was by far a never failing God figure. He was a consummate actor and never gave up playing the role; he knew all his lines and could say them in the right tone; he was always on camera.

Somewhere behind the scenery there are makeup artists, speech writers, policy wonks, dressing coordinators, etc. who create the image that we see much like the image of actors who on stage play their parts well. We of course vote for the image, the role player and not the flesh and blood real person who emerges when the play is over. The wizard of OZ comes to mind when much to the dismay of Dorothy and her friends the wizard is revealed as just a fake; one of us as the curtain falls away and the mask is gone. The Greeks had it right when they used masks in their plays. The audience did not confuse the role played and the real person behind the mask. Their lipstick was obvious; ours, much to our dismay, is cleverly hidden.

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