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08/09/2005 Archived Entry: "When did politicians stop being real human beings?"

OF THE GAZILLION THINGS I'VE DETESTED about Clinton and W., one of the most persistant is that neither of them speak like actual human beings.

Every time either of them opens his mouth, some sort of bland, slimy, pre-digested, pol-speak oozes out like yesterday's congealed oatmeal. Both have monotonous, rhythmic, bland, unvarying speaking styles that I'm convinced cause traffic accidents by putting news-radio-listening drivers to sleep. Neither has the slightest color in his speech. Both use the same limited, platitude-ridden, virtually meaningless vocabulary. Whether they're talking about slaughter in foreign lands or welfare at home, every word they utter sounds like something generated by some computerized PR program designed to cause the least offense to some hypothetical grandmother living 35 miles west of Des Moines, Iowa.

It's not only speech, really. Even when they take a vacation or sign a bill, everything about the act seems calculated to produce some bland, safe, predictable, utterly-without-individual-personality public impression. (I know for sure the Clinton did plan the activities of one vacation around the advice of his PR people -- hating every minute of the activities he pretended to enjoy.) It's as if they can't even go to the bathroom or bed-chat with the wife without a committee of experts advising them on how best to appear as Generic President.

I once detested the crass, corrupt, wheeling-dealing, warmongering Lyndon B. Johnson. But yesterday I was looking for a particular quote of his, and I was struck by the vividness of his speech. Whatever else LBJ might have been, he was himself -- an actual human being with a personality. And he was hardly alone. From Andrew Jackson to "Silent Cal" Coolidge, presidents have had distinct personalities, for good or ill.

When did American politicians get replaced by Robo-Presidents (TM), engineered and released by the animatronics departments of Washington, DC, PR agencies?

Posted by Claire @ 09:13 AM CST

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