By Gary Berg-Cross
News often arranges things such that common themes come to mind. An example is the image of leaders and the superficial aspect of their image & words vs. the hidden policy beliefs.
This happened to me today as the election of a new pope, Mitt Romney’s updates on his “47 percent” remarks and a new PR course was launched by the new leadership in China.
Mitt Romney and the upcoming CPAC have reasons to reflecting “mistakes” in the last election and what to do going forward, Romney understands that he was hurt by his “47 percent” remarks, but argues it was a bit of messaging problem, as opposed to some important policy different. This ‘it’s just a matter of semantics” seems to me really dishonest and a problem of our age. Romney also said his remark that "47 percent" of Americans believed they were "victims" and expected government to provide for them was an “unfortunate statement.”
“It's not what I meant. I didn't express myself as I wished I would have. You know, when you speak in private, uh, you don't spend as much time thinking about how something could be twisted and distorted and -- and it could come out wrong and be used,” he went on to say.
I don’t buy this just as I didn't buy many of the empty messaging of past conservative like George Bush (see Pict above for a 47% like truth slipping out). There is perception versus reality issue here. Supporters & the funding class pay $50K or so for a meal and expect an idea of policy. Romney is papering over real differences about what is likely intended policy and you can see some of this in the Ryan budget where the funding class’s taxes are not raised but programs for the 47% are and account for about 60% of Ryan’s budget savings.
I had a similar feeling of perception and policy reality differences when listening to the coverage of the new Pope Francis, aka Jorge Mario Bergoglio. He’s describes as a Jesuit known for simplicity and his very humble lifestyle, emphasis there, but also and conservatism. He’s described as flashback to an older view of Catholic clerics as humble leaders. And yes he did rode the bus because he gave up a cardinal’s chauffeured limo.
This simplicity has an undeniable appeal and I like a “Prince of the Church” who cooked his own meals & chose to live in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace. I like his activism for the poor. But a deeper look shows his conservative stance on some really key issues including contraception, marriage, the role of women and Liberation Theology (too much a mix of Jesus’s message and a socialist one).
When the Argentinian government considered making same-sex marriage legal he was reported as saying:
"Let's not be naive, we're not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God."
It’s enough to generate other views of the new pope - A pope so retro as to seem oddly new (Anthony Faiola ). That’s a view of the conservative substance living under a kinder, gentler veneer.
I had a similar feeling reading the WaPo article:China’s Xi Jinping charts a new PR course
As noted there new leader Xi and his top advisers have introduced:
“something previously unseen among the higher echelons of Chinese government: a retail politician…
The tactics familiar seem familiar (ala Romney or Francis) — getting control of the message and image with a simple narrative - attacking problems in general terms (government waste) and casting the new leader as a plainspoken, unadorned man of the people.
The approach reflects a new reality confronting not just China’s leaders in the modern age. As noted by many innovations like social media and cellphones weaken central control over the narrative. This week CPAC isn’t he only PR campaign boosting leader’s image as the pope and China’s Xi ease into the ceremonial roles and struggle with the various with public discontent, disillusionment & even tea party level rage over failed policies and hierarchical/oligarchic blocks of power.
George Bush’s Litmus test for Judges- policy & message: http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.php?az=view_all&address=221x11212
Romney 47%: http://blogs.denverpost.com/opinion/2012/09/19/cartoons-day-mitt-romneys-47-percent-comments/25544/
Xi: WaPo artice cited