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The Bare Knuckled Pundit June 13th, 2008 06:42 PM

Perception Is Reality and Reality Bites
 
Perception is reality; we’ve heard it all before. It is a truism that is repeatedly proved valid time and time again. Personally I believe it should be carved in stone as one of the 10 Political Commandments.



The gist of the axiom is that how people perceive a campaign or candidate creates its own reality in the political dimension. There is a bit of self-fulfilling prophecy in this. If a candidate sets out to create a particular image for themselves through their clothing, demeanor, advertising, message and campaign material they take responsibility for shaping how the media and public perceives them. They define themselves and constantly reinforce their image through their actions and tactics.



This is particularly crucial for political neophytes as it can be both an advantage and a disadvantage. This dichotomy lies in the fact that they are essentially a blank slate. With limited or no political resumes, they can either define themselves or be defined by the media and their opponents. This was the situation Barack Obama faced when announcing his run for the Democratic presidential nomination.



Beyond the Washington Beltway and outside the Chicago El the extent of Obama’s exposure to the nation was limited to his 2004 Democratic National Convention keynote speech. After watching it I immediately told my wife not only would he give Republicans serious problems in the future, he would one day be a legitimate contender for the presidency. Little did I know it would be four short years later. On the strength of that one speech, Obama established himself as a deeply thoughtful, highly articulate and emotionally evocative speaker.



His oratory bona fides firmly established, the next question would be his image. Stylistically he is cool, refined and fashionable, without being flashy; both verbally and in his wardrobe selections. Seeking a balance between perception and privacy, Obama initially appeared with his wife and children just enough to establish a sense of family without turning them into clichéd props. There’s a fine line when incorporating families into politics and Barack has successfully walked it.



The final issue was his relatively meager political resume. Confronting a field that included opponents with decades of experience on the national stage, many of them fellow senators as well as a former Ambassador to the United Nations and the female half of the most legendary political husband and wife team of the last half century, Barack masterfully executed a devastating bit of political jujitsu.



Experience was not the standard by which candidates should be judged, he insisted. Centuries of combined political and governmental experience had led us marching headlong into Iraq. The same experience created an economy that increasingly benefited the rich while threatening to push millions out of that most cherished group of Americans, the Middle Class. Exploding budget deficits, a declining dollar, the impending fiscal Armageddon of Social Security and Medicare’s collapse were all attributable to experience Obama lamented. No, it is judgment, not experience that is the benchmark. While Hillary insisted the president must have the experience to be ready to govern on day one, Obama parried that all the experience in the world was for naught if it resulted in bad judgments and poor decisions. Thus was his image set, the campaign engaged and victory ultimately won.



Having dispelled the myth of the indestructible Clinton political machine, Obama is now a giant slayer as well as the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee. He is now a seasoned veteran of a grueling and agonizingly long nationwide campaign. His image is sleek, insightful, energetic and visionary. The question is can he maintain this image through the summer into the Denver convention and on to November 4th. Will he succeed in his attempt to retain his perception as a virtuous sage extolling the wisdom of his zen mantra of change? Or will the Republicans draw him into the mud and expose him as a mere politician as he becomes increasingly mired in the traditional muck that accompanies presidential campaigns?



Juxtaposed to the sleekly cool and refined image of Obama, John McCain is increasingly perceived as cantankerous and disconnected. Though gaffes and misstatements are common after months on the campaign trail, hundreds of town hall meetings and scripted events, McCain’s increasingly frequent factual faux pas when combined with his age create the impression of someone teased by dementia, if not worse.



His remarks that American troops could well be stationed in Iraq for decades to come, in line with our on-going deployments in Japan and Germany, belies the mood of the American public. Where conditions is Iraq to evolve into something relatively comparable to those our forces enjoy in Japan and Germany, there is still the question of the corresponding costs of a long term security relationship on par with those of these two strategic allies. What is the cost in terms of manpower and treasure over the coming decades? Are Americans willing to pay those costs? In addition to the geopolitical implications, one must consider the fiscal and material expense.



Though he seeks to win partisan points with the conservative base of the Republican Party, McCain’s recent attempts to link Obama with Jimmy Carter come across as desperate and clutching for straws. Moreover, while the public is besieged by dire economic indicators on a daily basis, McCain continues to press national security and the war on terror as the bedrock of his campaign. Clearly the McCain camp is in need of some straight talk regarding image management, message control and issue prioritization.



In addition to the perception of the candidates, one must also bear in mind the perception of the environment in which the campaign is conducted. If national security issues dominate the landscape, this provides an advantage to the Republicans. On the other hand, if domestic issues such as the economy and health care are foremost in the electorate’s consciousness, the advantage transfers to the Democrats.



Compounding this advantage is the lag time between economic perceptions and realities. In the fall of 1992, the country perceived itself as being in the grip of a recession. Hence, James Carville’s famous quote, “It’s the economy, stupid.” However, when the fall economic statistics came out the following quarter in the winter of 1993, it was clear the country had actually moved out of recession and was in recovery at the time of the general election. As comforting as it may have been, the information came too late for George H. Bush to fend off Bill Clinton’s successful challenge for the presidency.



Fast forward to 2008. With oil and gas prices soaring off into low earth orbit, bankruptcies on the rise and home foreclosures devastating the housing market, the electorate’s attention is squarely focused on economic issues at home. In order for the Republicans and McCain to gain any respite from the political pressure that accompanies the grim daily headlines, the country must move into recovery during this quarter. Should this fail to happen and gas prices remain above the $4 threshold into late October, the perception that we are threatened by, if not already in the icy grip of a recession will crush whatever meager hopes the Republicans have. Remember, perception is reality and the reality at this point bites.



Can you see the real me, faithful readers? Can you? Stay tuned for further updates as reality shifts and developments warrant.

OhDear June 13th, 2008 07:00 PM

Welcome from me Bare Knuckles!



I see what you are saying. I wonder if perception becomes reality is more true though. But I am not picking apart your post at all. Just wondering about it is all.



For an individual, perception IS reality. Cos as soon as one thinks something, that is to that one, reality. Truth to that one. Life to that one. Or even impending death to that one.



But as individuals with a certain perception gain an audience, gain an influence, then that perception becomes reality to a whole people.



Like this well known tale:

Quote:

The 100th Monkey



A story about social change.

By Ken Keyes Jr.

The Japanese monkey, Macaca Fuscata, had been observed in the wild for a period of over 30 years.

In 1952, on the island of Koshima, scientists were providing monkeys with sweet potatoes dropped in the sand. The monkey liked the taste of the raw sweet potatoes, but they found the dirt unpleasant.

An 18-month-old female named Imo found she could solve the problem by washing the potatoes in a nearby stream. She taught this trick to her mother. Her playmates also learned this new way and they taught their mothers too.

This cultural innovation was gradually picked up by various monkeys before the eyes of the scientists. Between 1952 and 1958 all the young monkeys learned to wash the sandy sweet potatoes to make them more palatable. Only the adults who imitated their children learned this social improvement. Other adults kept eating the dirty sweet potatoes.

Then something startling took place. In the autumn of 1958, a certain number of Koshima monkeys were washing sweet potatoes -- the exact number is not known. Let us suppose that when the sun rose one morning there were 99 monkeys on Koshima Island who had learned to wash their sweet potatoes. Let's further suppose that later that morning, the hundredth monkey learned to wash potatoes.

THEN IT HAPPENED!

By that evening almost everyone in the tribe was washing sweet potatoes before eating them. The added energy of this hundredth monkey somehow created an ideological breakthrough!

But notice: A most surprising thing observed by these scientists was that the habit of washing sweet potatoes then jumped over the sea...Colonies of monkeys on other islands and the mainland troop of monkeys at Takasakiyama began washing their sweet potatoes.

Thus, when a certain critical number achieves an awareness, this new awareness may be communicated from mind to mind.

Although the exact number may vary, this Hundredth Monkey Phenomenon means that when only a limited number of people know of a new way, it may remain the conscious property of these people.

But there is a point at which if only one more person tunes-in to a new awareness, a field is strengthened so that this awareness is picked up by almost everyone!

From the book "The Hundredth Monkey" by Ken Keyes, Jr.
OD

OhDear June 13th, 2008 07:01 PM

... or even this well known tale about perception and reality.



OD



Quote:

There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf! Wolf! The Wolf is chasing the sheep!"

The villagers came running up the hill to help the boy drive the wolf away. But when they arrived at the top of the hill, they found no wolf. The boy laughed at the sight of their angry faces.

"Don't cry 'wolf', shepherd boy," said the villagers, "when there's no wolf!" They went grumbling back down the hill.

Later, the boy sang out again, "Wolf! Wolf! The wolf is chasing the sheep!" To his naughty delight, he watched the villagers run up the hill to help him drive the wolf away.

When the villagers saw no wolf they sternly said, "Save your frightened song for when there is really something wrong! Don't cry 'wolf' when there is NO wolf!"

But the boy just grinned and watched them go grumbling down the hill once more.

Later, he saw a REAL wolf prowling about his flock. Alarmed, he leaped to his feet and sang out as loudly as he could, "Wolf! Wolf!"

But the villagers thought he was trying to fool them again, and so they didn't come.

At sunset, everyone wondered why the shepherd boy hadn't returned to the village with their sheep. They went up the hill to find the boy. They found him weeping.

"There really was a wolf here! The flock has scattered! I cried out, "Wolf!" Why didn't you come?"

An old man tried to comfort the boy as they walked back to the village.

"We'll help you look for the lost sheep in the morning," he said, putting his arm around the youth, "Nobody believes a liar...even when he is telling the truth!"


pensacola_niceman June 14th, 2008 09:30 AM

Fuck your long ass posts!

OhDear June 14th, 2008 09:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by pensacola_niceman
Fuck your long ass posts!



Darn! I hope someone reads them. Cos I was hoping to prove I am not brain dead yet.



OD

onthefence June 14th, 2008 09:39 AM

Don't hold your breath, I got a dollar says he never posts again.

OhDear June 14th, 2008 10:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onthefence
Don't hold your breath, I got a dollar says he never posts again.



Shoot man! I really gave his post some serious thought.



If he doesn't come back...could I have his points???http://www.defendingthetruth.com/ima...on_mrgreen.gif



OD

onthefence June 14th, 2008 09:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by OhDear
Shoot man! I really gave his post some serious thought.



If he doesn't come back...could I have his points???http://www.defendingthetruth.com/ima...on_mrgreen.gif



OD





sure his 4 points are yours, you will be the first one to receive miscellaneous points.



how long should we wait?

The Bare Knuckled Pundit June 15th, 2008 06:30 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by onthefence
Don't hold your breath, I got a dollar says he never posts again.



Sorry, Beer Man, but you owe someone a dollar. And while you're at it, I'll take a Guinness.



Very insightful and thoughtful comments and examples, Oh Dear. Point made and taken. Clearly you're far from brain dead.



And thanks for the warm welcome, Pensacola! It's greatly appreciated!

onthefence June 15th, 2008 06:58 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by The Bare Knuckled Pundit
Sorry, Beer Man, but you owe someone a dollar. And while you're at it, I'll take a Guinness.



Very insightful and thoughtful comments and examples, Oh Dear. Point made and taken. Clearly you're far from brain dead.



And thanks for the warm welcome, Pensacola! It's greatly appreciated!



Welcome, I will give the dollar to RHS,

and your Guinness has been poured and finished with a shamrock in the head (Go Celts!)



http://www.blojsom.com/resources/dav...-shamrocks.jpg


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