Thursday, April 03, 2008

Out in the open

I'll take a moment to toss in my two cents' worth on the Lukiwski/Wall scandal that's naturally dominating today's news coverage. But I'll take a different line than most of the commentary so far.

As problematic as the video is, the larger issue which it highlights is how little we're actually able to know about most politicians based on the high levels of coaching and scripting which underlie any public appearance. For all the media and citizen attention to political campaigns, the sad fact is that it's still relatively easy for political parties to hide their candidates behind talking points and "no comments", rather than allowing anybody to test what kind of judgment they possess. And indeed, both Lukiwski and Wall reached their current status as high-ranking politicians based precisely on "good campaigns" which involved their parties avoiding public embarrassment by going out of their way to say nothing.

Of course, there have always been suspicions about just what has been hidden from the public. But there's still been no concerted effort to actually push behind the facades put up to varying degrees by different parties. And as long as our political narratives continue to see a campaign that's free of "gaffes" as being the ideal even when that's achieved by hiding who candidates really are from public view, it can't come as much surprise when it turns out that our leaders do have something to hide.

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