Wednesday, October 07, 2009

It's The Image, Stupid
Part II

Why are so many of us more concerned with how we are perceived, rather than who we really are? In part one, I told the story of a Rabbi who - because he was clearly still living in the past, remembering his glory years - refused to allow any perception that he was not still on top of his game. For this man - and his wife and followers - they could not bear the idea that perhaps time had passed them by.

But what of the rest of us? Why are we so afraid of the truth? After all, how many of us have experienced the bitter pain of being "exposed?" I would imagine we all have at one time.

Is the perception (rather than the reality) that much more pleasant? What does this say about us?

The problem with perception is that it often lies. While it may feel good to hide behind mask, all it really does is fool the public. Of course eventually, events happen that expose the truth anyway. What you're left with is not only the truth, but the embarrassment of having been exposed as a fraud in the first place. Regardless of the reason, the truth is far less painful than the cost of hiding it.

It has become very obvious that in the political arena, perception is a fickle thing. Having the perception of doing good can carry someone through an election. But if there is nothing behind the perception, eventually the fraud will be exposed. By the same token, "doing something" is a wonderful idea. You hear it all the time - "we've got to do something about (health care, immigration, taxes, Islamic supremacists...)." But often times, either nothing gets done, or something is done just to change the perception.

We can spend millions, perhaps billions of dollars creating a perception of "doing something," but in reality all we've done is waste valuable time and money.

In the Obama government, perception has taken a priority over truth. That is why Obama decided not to be visited by the Dalai Lama during his trip to America. While the previous three Presidents all met with his holiness whenever he came to America, Obama refused to accommodate him until after the President meets with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing in November.

Another example was this week's photo op on the White House lawn with 150 doctors. The event was created for the simple reason that Obama wanted a show of unity for his health care goals. However, aside from the fact that each doctor was asked to come in his lab coat (where the doctor forgot his/her coat, the White House jumped in and gave them one - gee, I wonder who paid for that?). But even this simple propaganda ploy seems to have backfired, as it was soon learned that these doctors were handpicked because of their financial support of the Democratic Party.

While I have no qualms about Obama meeting with his financial supporters, I have a huge problem with making it out to appear (purposely, mind you) to b a "bi-partisan" event.

It's all in the perception.

And lastly, why do you suppose the White House is attacking Glenn Beck so feverishly? And before Beck, it was Rush Limbaugh. I don't recall George Bush going after Keith Olbermann, do you? What I do recall was the outrage over Richard Nixon's "enemies list." That was deserving of our fury because the President has to rise above the pettiness of his critics. While liberals were out there calling Bush "Hitler" and producing movies about his assassination, not once did his administration go after any liberal media outlet.

This past weekend, Saturday Night Live featured an opening skit which was highly critical of the President. Like most SNL political skits, it was over the top, stereotypical and based on truth. Of course, being that it is a comedy sketch, not everything is completely factual. Like Tina Fey's Sarah Palin, who said she "saw Russia from her house (the actual comment Palin made was that Russia is right next to Alaska, but SNL created the illusion that Palin was an idiot), Fred Armisen's Barack Obama was simply a caricature of the President. Yet for some reason, CNN decided that the skit needed to be "fact checked."

Why? What reason could CNN possibly have to spend time and effort fact checking SNL? The only two reasons I can come up with are either because CNN is completely in the tank for Obama, which is very possible; or because CNN did what CNN has been known to do in the past - and that is that they fear losing their "insider" status with the White House. So therefore, when David Axelrod, or Ramn Emanuel says jump - they jump. Keep in mind, CNN is the very same network that covered up Saddam Hussein's abuses in order to continue having access in Iraq.

Why is it so important for Obama and his people to keep his perception positive? It's because - like in the Wizard of Oz - perception is all he has. When you pull back the curtain, there is nothing there. In the liberal worldview, actions do not speak louder than words. Sure Obama has grand plans and lofty rhetoric. But the SNL skit cut him down to size. It showed the man behind the mask.

Unfortunately for America (and quite possibly the free world), we live in a very real and dangerous time. Lofty rhetoric does not work against the enemies of decency and freedom. Grand plans may sound great, but they really are only words. "Do something" is meaningless unless the thing you're doing has real value.

I'm reminded by someone I once had the honor of working with a number of years ago. He was an executive at the State of Israel Bonds for many years, and by the time I got to work with him, he was very close (certainly past due) for retirement. The day I met him, I asked him what his position entailed. He smiled and said it was a very complicated position. But then he added, at least that's what the job description says. So naturally, I was curious and asked him what exactly he does all day.

He turned to me and said, "it's my job to move this pile of papers from this side of the desk to the other and then back again."

Stunned, I asked him what that was all about and he said, "I have a staff of 10 people who know what they are doing. So as long as I appear to be working, they pay my check."

When you and I are paying for this waste, it becomes our business. In this day and age, we can not afford perceptions. Not when our economy is in the toilet and our enemies are developing nuclear bombs.

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