Even as I begin to write this, I'm realizing it's hardly worth the effort. We the people are manipulated by politicians, the media, television, movies, religious or spiritual leaders, parents, friends, enemies, strangers, pets, children--the list goes on ad infinitum--on a moment-to-moment basis. There are benevolent, malevolent, and occasionally entirely neutral forces working on an individual's psyche at all times.
The dog barks because he wants to be walked. The priest infuses the tone of his voice with just the right touch of pity-plea and stern reproach before the collection plate is passed down the aisles. Billy Mays screams at you from the great infomercial set in the sky about the AwesomeAuger. The radio plays two or three songs every hour of every day for two months among a rotating mix of maybe twenty or thirty others. The President of the United States pretends to be a sports fanatic so that the sports-crazed public believes he's just like they are.
One cannot, for the most part, walk around worrying about such manipulation. It is a fact of life. A person would go insane trying to recognize, much less avoid the influence of, the hundreds of thousands of tiny manipulations foisted upon him every day. That said, recognizing the big instances are important to developing a healthy awareness of the way the world works.
My example here is hardly one of the big ones. Just one of the more annoying.
Barack Obama is on ESPN's SportsCenter all the time. He did an interview with Stuart Scott during the campaign. He fills out March Madness Tournament brackets in long-running SportsCenter segments--he even filled out a women's bracket this year! He talks at length about being a hardcore Chicago White Sox fan, despite the fact that when asked, he cannot name a single player that he has admired in his extended fandom.
"I'm a South-side kid."
The President was born in Hawaii. He spent much of his young childhood in Indonesia. He went back to Hawaii for high school. He went to college in Los Angeles and New York City. He finally made it to Chicago at 24 or so, where he hung out and organized some communities for a few years before heading back east for Harvard Law. He settled down in Chicago after that, at about 30 years old. He is not a South-side kid. He's a Hawaiian/Indonesian kid who spent his young adulthood in the three biggest non-Chicago cities on either coast. Assuming he picked up his White Sox habit upon his return to Chicago in the early nineties, Frank Thomas is the answer. In fact, Frank Thomas is the answer whenever somebody wants to know your favorite White Sox player no matter what the era in question is--and whether you're a fan or not.
I guess the point here is that Barack Obama is not a diehard White Sox fan, but he portrays himself as one. I'm not mad at him for not being a big-time baseball fan--he certainly has more important things with which to concern himself. Hell, I have more important things with which to concern myself than the Braves and my fantasy baseball team, and I'm a pizza delivery guy, for chrissakes, and he's the leader of the 'free' world. What concerns me is not that he can't name a single, solitary White Sox player, but that he wants us all to think that he really gives a shit about the White Sox.
I don't care if my president is a baseball fan or not. I don't care if he likes to play croquet or go horseback riding or windsurfing or missed the Super Bowl because he was too busy playing gin-rummy with Eleanor Roosevelt and Don Rumsfeld. I just don't want to be told a thousand times, over and over again, that he is something that he is not, solely because his handlers or perhaps he himself believes I will like him more if I think I can sit down with a Budweiser and my Baseball Almanac and yap ChiSox history with him.
SportsCenter, which is on ESPN, which is owned by Disney--a company with quite a history of mass manipulation, in case you missed it--airs Barack Obama stuff all the time. There are many stories out there about how Barack and Michelle like to watch SportsCenter together. He references the show in speeches. He is probably our first basketball playing president, and certainly more has been made of his athleticism than any before him. Oh, and he throws like a girl. (See video evidence above.)
We are a sports-obsessed culture. The Obama administration is using this obsession to manipulate the sports-loving public into believing that Barack Obama is just like them--that he cares about the same meaningless shit that they care about. It validates their nonsensical obsessions while at the same time reinforces an image of Barack Obama in their minds that is not connected with reality.
For the other half of the nation, the public not obsessed with sports, such revelatory comments are a godsend, assuming they recognize his misstep. He's not a jocky meathead like that last asshole, George W. Bush. He has more important things to worry about than overpaid pituitary retards throwing balls around at each other. 'Let him make the idiots believe what they want to believe--I know he's smarter than all that!'
Oddly, this is the same reaction most secularists have when Obama speaks about his faith. 'Oh, he just has to say that, we know better. He's not really that way, he's just pandering--he's just being a politician.' This shouldn't excuse his behavior--we should demand forthrightness and honesty, or at least be willing to call out those that we may hold in high esteem when they're lying, or letting us down, or perhaps more appropriately, revealing their true selves.
Speaking of W, those that hated him believed him to be an idiot. Believing W to be a moron who didn't know anything about the world or current events is akin to the quiet bigotry of deluding oneself into the belief that 9/11 couldn't possibly have been planned by a bunch of sand-dwelling Muslims simply because they're not sophisticated enough. Never underestimate your enemy--foreign or domestic. If W came off as a little bit dumb, it's because that's what W's people wanted us to think, because it best served their agenda. In much the same way, Barack Obama is designed to come off as just a little bit smarter than the smartest guy in the room, because it best serves his agenda.
Manipulation doesn't end when your preferred party takes over, and it's no less acceptable when it's being done by someone whom you may generally like or even occasionally admire.
In summation, I have to go to work now, and have not had the time to make all my points, but that's life in the world of always being too goddamned wordy.