Friday, September 05, 2008

Palin glasses hunters swarm to web site

My site meter went ballistic last night after I posted my little ditty about Sarah Palin’s glasses.

The Red Electric lopes along with between 40 and 50 visitors each day. The count consists of 30 of my nearest and dearest friends and relatives as well as a pack of search robots sniffing out tags (“McLuhan,” “glasses,” “Sarah Palin”) and product mentions.

At first I thought the ‘bots were out in force last night (and today) or somebody spotted something they thought worth linking to a better-read site than Red.

Since the post 23 hours ago, I’ve received 650 visits.

I should have known something was up when, oddly, no one has posted a comment. Not a single one.

Then it was brought to my attention that the site meter has a “references” section. What we have is nothing more than good old American consumerism run amok. Folks are gaga over Sarah’s frames and are searching “Palin” and “glasses” in droves. (Gee, what would have happened if I’d tagged the post “sex” and “Palin”? I've tried it with this one as an experiment. What happens if ANY post is tagged “sex”? Whole industries are built on the answer to the question.)

Frequent Red Electric reader Steve Brannon was the first to raise the possibility of the consumer connection and even pointed out press documentation of the consumer craze for Palin’s specs.

The good news that while the large majority visited the site to read about where to find Sarah’s glasses, more than 100 nosed around here and looked at other posts.

So, for those of you in the hunt for the Palin-look, look around. You aren’t likely to find what you were looking for, but you may like what you find.

If you actually are here for more thoughts about “cool” and the campaign, here’s one more observation grounded in McLuhan. I also should credit George Lakoff, who rightly takes metaphors seriously — very seriously. (He also writes a lot about frames — political, not optical, ones.)

The political metaphors for the past three decades have all been unabashedly about war. “Hot” war” not “cold war.” So we have “Attack ads,” “War rooms,” “Frontal attacks,” “Counter attacks,” “Air wars,” “War chests” etc.

If he were around, McLuhan (he died in 1980) might argue on behalf of a “cool war.” It would be absorbing and coolly nonconfrontational. It would certainly entertain and not take itself too seriously. Sure, it would take the issues seriously but never lose sight of both the sublime and the absurd.

John F. Kennedy was the first to master “cool.” His press conferences managed enlighten, inspire and, most importantly, engage. He was comfortable with his topic, with himself and with us.

Sarah Palin is no John Kennedy. But she does seem to bring to the podium some of these same qualities. For one thing, she is comfortable enough with herself to wear those marmish glasses. And she may just know that they draw us in to her persona and ultimately into what she is saying.

Whether we agree with her or not, she, unlike her running mate, old what’s-his-name, gets our attention.

Barack Obama shares a few of these qualities. For starters, he too is comfortable with who he is. He, at least, seems to have transcended race, something most of us, if we are honest, have not done but would like too.

How does he do it? And how does Palin get away with wearing those glasses? Of course in her case, she can simply take them off. That she doesn’t seems contrived yet curious.

Obama, with no choice about his skin color, has reached acceptance and moved on.

Would that we all could. This election may tell us if we can.

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