What They’re Really Saying


Now Playing: Christmas in Washington, by Steve Earle. “There’s foxes in the hen house, Cows out in the corn. The unions have been busted, Their proud red banners torn. To listen to the radio, You’d think that all was well. But you and me and Cisco know, It’s going straight to hell. So come back, Emma Goldman; Rise up, old Joe Hill, The barricades are goin’ up, They cannot break our will. Come back to us, Malcolm X And Martin Luther King. We’re marching into Selma, As the bells of freedom ring.”

I often play translator in my house for Karen and Austin. As in, I translate his teen speak into English. It’s not that he uses teen slang or anything like that. He just speaks quickly, sometimes softly and sometimes in a mumble, and his mom doesn’t always catch everything. (Like any good translator, I don’t always translate word-for-word – giving him and his mother a break.)

But today I’ll use those talents to translate political commercials, particularly those being run by Richard Burr featuring two old geezers in rocking chairs on a porch and their cute – but not too cute – young woman, possibly a granddaughter or niece or nurse or … who knows?

It starts off with the standard disclaimer: I’m Richard Burr, and I approve this message. Here’s what he’s really saying: I’m Richard Burr, and I’m too wooden to tell you this stuff and have you believe it, so I’ve hired these geezers and this young and cute – but not too cute – young woman to do it for me. Yeah, they’re the same old coots who said bad stuff about my party member Elizabeth Dole last election, but who cares? They’re just actors. They’ll say whatever they’re paid to say.

Then it goes to the geezers, with one complaining that Elaine Marshall wants to authorize $6 trillion in new debt, the other chiming in that the new spending is on top of the $14 trillion we already owe, and the cute – but not too cute – young woman saying, look what that got us, high unemployment and a bad economy. Now here’s what they’re really saying: Richard Burr doesn’t care if you don’t have a job. He didn’t care if the financial system crashed – at least as long as it crashed after his wife got all the money allowable out the ATMs before the general public knew about the financial crisis. And if it takes a lot of people losing everything until the bad economy turns around, so be it.

Bad as that is, there’s the Big Lie that comes next, as it addresses Elaine Marshall’s support for cap-and-trade energy taxes. “I’m for a clean environment,” one geezer says. “But her plan costs jobs,” the cute – but not too cute – young woman says. “And raises utility rates,” the other geezer says. Here’s what they mean. “I’m for a clean environment, as long as it’s not inconvenient, as long as I don’t have to pay any more for it, as long as someone just poofs it out of thin air.

I’m not big fan of Elaine Marshall, either, by the way. I’m suspicious of the UNC agent investigation she launched. I suspect she launched it to get on the front pages, since she didn’t have the money to spend on her own misleading campaign ads.

There’s a pretty big lack of leadership in this state and country right now. It’s hard to find any politician who stands for something other than themselves. Instead, we’ve got a bunch of Larry Kissells and Heath Shulers and the like, and their only challengers are equally flawed.

Come back, Woody Guthrie.

“So come back Woody Guthrie, Come back to us now. Tear your eyes from paradise, And rise again somehow. If you run into Jesus, Maybe he can help you out. Come back, Woody Guthrie, to us now.” – more Christmas in Washington

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