Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Now Hear This! The McRovian Approach to Attention

Wherever you are... do this.

Sit still for three minutes, eyes open. Track what gets your attention.

Is it the siren coming closer and closer, the odd unexpected sound, a sudden silence in the midst of noise, the color of someones shirt, a guy running through the parking lot, the screams of a woman, the moaning of an injured animal you can hear but not see, something someone said in stark contrast to perceived or agreed reality. What is it that tracks attention?

There are a million things that get our attention, breaking our concentration. Things that move us off track. Things that take priority.

If you did the suggested in paragraph one, your brain made decisions on events... it perceived and made decisions.

The sound of a car driving by with loud music on did not have the same effect as gun shots from a passing car.

In a crowd, a streaker had more effect than a fabulously beautiful woman standing next to you.

At the dog park, a threatening dog had your attention over the compassionate and lazy golden retriever with a tennis ball in its mouth that everyone adores.

The ten wild kids in the grocery store with their mom stole the attention away from the person looking for the perfect zucchini.

Two balls, one red, one blue, and a red frisbee. Go back to your Highlights days. What doesn't fit?

And not only that, you made instantaneous judgments and decisions about each event. Like, don't like. Threatening, safe. Annoying, sweet. Different, beautiful. Care, don't. Noted, unimportant.

Welcome to the world of politics. This is how it is done.


On a day when the stock market plummets 504 points downward, three days prior Lehman goes duck-up, and the press is just short of calling it the next depression, John McCain makes a statement that the "fundamentals of our economy are strong" (28 sec video):

Let's just take the first couple of lines here, and the most important.

If you see the statement made (and track audio), and are watching, you note that McCain is badly following script (unprepared, incapable, worry), the message is grim in the first section (fear), delivery is terrible (incompetent), and McCain looks terribly uncomfortable (unease).

Then he breaks to the we'll save you message: where he is 'changing' (reassuring), comfortable (gets rid of fear, whew), and looks more natural and happy (fear turned to happy... all is well).

That is what he just did. He gave you the tail between the legs routine, then bounced away as a happy puppy against applauding (reinforcement) mass.

He sent to your split-second brain these things and many, many, many more. The tie color against the suit, against the background.

But WHAT did he REALLY do?

He attracted one helluva lot of attention. There wasn't a blog or a newspaper or online news pundit that wasn't talking about the absurdity of it all. He stole the news of the day... then elaborated. If you think for a minute this isn't calculated, you are wrong.

THIS is exactly WHY Palin is so effective, and why Obama is having a difficult time responding.

McCain is using an old skill: attention getting. It works for babies and kids, and it works VERY well for McCain.

And not only did McCain steal the attention, he did something even more seemingly stupid but, actually, more brilliant.

McCain retraced his steps. And then lied again and got even more coverage! He actually got someone to listen to his lies on his affection and respect for labor. Double play by McCain and the hits just keep on coming!

In theory, everything he just did was ridiculous. But it wasn't. It worked well.

He took us from the economy (something he has admitted he is terrible at) to labor (something we all know he is terrible at) in 24 hours. And media is writing about it. Who would have given a damn about his thoughts on labor 24 hours ago?

McCain is the streaker at the dinner party. It's all they will talk about all night, every night for the next number of nights. Never mind the reason for the dinner party or how marvelous it was up to that point. It's the streaker. In all contexts and the majority of all contexts.

McCain may not completely understand what he is doing. I think it is perfectly clear he doesn't though I must say Cindy looks a little tense these days standing there in the background like a statue at the back of the younger and more attractive, charismatic Palin. She looks uncomfortable and perhaps she is the only one that truly does get it though that wouldn't change a thing.

McCain's strategist, a Rove child, does get it. It's not about McCain, it is about the GOP and their shifts ever farther right and hanging on to whatever political geography they can in the face of a rather disastrous congressional shift.

McCain gets the attention because of lies, absurdities, for wearing his pants on their head. Whatever it is, he ultimately wins. If the Rove child told McCain to wear a poodle shirt, grunt and eat socks, he would. Both McCain and Palin do what they are told. I mean seriously, what normal human being could get up and give the same speech over and over? I'd be bored to tears.

This bunch doesn't do well with issues, as we so clearly know. So they fight with the tools they have, all else be damned. To date, clown shoes and all, they are winning the heart of America. We could, if we don't pay attention and work our silly butts off, have Bozo as the next prez.

I don't believe they will ultimately win, but for now, the Rove child is in control.

Watch for it... you will see it in every move.

And, this is enlightening: read it.