March 23, 2008
Hillary's Bosnia Trip and the Fate of the World
Last week I mentioned a statement out of Hillary's campaign that was so cynical I found it downright revolting. I'm following up today with a statement from Hillary herself that appears to be a blatant lie.
"I remember landing under sniper fire. There was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get into the vehicles to get to our base." --Hillary Clinton, speech at George Washington University, March 17, 2008. [Democratic Underground]
Here is a photo of the actual incident:
The photo was retrieved by the Washington Post.
Here is a video (thanks to Donklephant):
I don't know what to say other than that I don't want another unmitigated liar in the White House. Especially one who seems to be running partly on the idea of being an especially smart person, but who isn't tuned-in enough to know that her lies are often of such of a nature that they can be quickly exposed by the media. (There are plenty of other lies coming from her or her campaign that I'm not taking the time to mention here.)
Which brings me to another point. As everyone knows, the Internet is a hugely important factor in this campaign. For instance, most campaign money is now being raised through the Internet.
Sometimes people explain the Clinton's campaign approach as being based on old-school politics. Perhaps, they say, if they were of today's generation, they'd be different. It may be that Hillary has simply been trained over decades that this is the only way to win an election, and that with a different experience, she would have taken a very different approach.
I am willing to hypothesize that the main difference is the Internet. For instance, in the old days, Obama's speech in response to the Wright flap would have been seen by very few people. Instead the TV networks would run a few sound bites, and spend most of the air time conducting interviews with analysts saying that the speech wasn't going to make any difference because the Wright sound bites are much more powerful than any that could be culled from Obama's speech. (Which is basically what is happening network news today.)
But almost three million people have accessed the whole speech on YouTube. It's a great speech. Some have said it's brilliant.
I'm not sure I'd classify it that way. To me, it seems more like a reasonable and intelligent person talking directly to us as if we, too, are reasonable and intelligent. And that is historically so extremely unusual in American politics that by contrast, it's as if it is brilliant, even if it's "only" reasonable and intelligent.
He assumes what the television networks do not: that Americans have an attention span that can tolerate thoughtful speech for more than 10 seconds. But that's also the speech's drawback from the old-media perspective: there aren't many (any?) sound bites that can be extracted from it. It would not have been effective in the old-media days except for those few who would go to the trouble of finding and reading the whole thing in a newspaper. And historically, that group has not been enough to reach the critical mass that determines elections.
The ability for any American who wishes to to conveniently see such a speech is a potential game-changer, particularly because those viewers have the ability to tell their friends (and readers, in the case of bloggers) what they think. The availability of such materials on the Internet (including such materials the expose of Hillary's Bosnia lie), added to word of mouth, means that the possibility for a new style of politics is here.
I believe Obama's success so far in this campaign is a result of that possibility reaching actual fruition. I believe that we may be entering an era where lies will be less commonplace and more quickly exposed. And where the result of that is that people are elected to high office who are more honest in their approach because the old style just won't work as well. People who are fundamentally dishonest will be less likely to succeed; and those who aren't won't be trained to believe that dishonesty is the only way to win.
But a key step in that equation is the word-of-mouth piece. Sound bites on the media are still extremely powerful. Most people will still not view Obama's race speech on the Internet; they'll see the Wright sound bites on the networks. So the availability of materials like this on the Internet is not enough. Word of mouth is also required. As Obama says, "We are the solution." Those who don't view the materials directly can hear about them from those who do. Hopefully they will be inspired to view the original materials for themselves. But if not, they can still be moved by hearing from those who have done so.
Either way, it's good. Anyone who shares the information is helping the process, one way or another. Obama's success so far indicates that the two factors, combined, can reach critical mass. I think it's time to hypothesize that this election is already historic, and potentially world-changing: we may be entering a time when our elected officials will be... better. To a nontrivial degree. Nothing is ever perfect and utopia never arrives. But better is good.
Think of the music industry. The Internet is truly transforming it. There is absolutely no reason to assume that the same can't happen for politics, and for reasons that are not dissimilar. It just isn't as obvious, yet, what is changing and why.
We all have to chip in, though, to make it happen. And that's why I am posting this today.