Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Politics as usual

A lot of people from the Netherlands have asked me how big the ‘elections’ hype is over here, since I have not blogged about that yet. Well, most of the times I open up a Dutch website, there is a headline about Clinton, Obama or McCain, even when no one here has mentioned it yet; I actually think the hype is bigger in the Netherlands! So until this week, there wasn’t much to talk about.

However, last Tuesday, Hillary Clinton visited Philadelphia because of the pre-elections in Pennsylvania in April. When they announced that she would speak at Temple University in North Philly, I did not have to think twice about going there!

Clinton’s speech was introduced by the major of Philadelphia and the governor of Pennsylvania. One of the things I noticed about politicians in this country (compared to the Netherlands) is that they know how to sell the message – they always have great one-liners and a lot of enthusiasm, where we see long and boring, but in-depth debates in the Netherlands. The enthusiastic audience also encourages this, with a loud applause after almost each sentence. To give an example, this is how the major ended his speech: “We are going to write history here. If we can put a man on the moon, we sure as hell can put a woman in the white house!”

Clinton gave an hour-long speech in which se talked about health care, Iraq, gas prices, crime and the mess of the Bush administration. “In 1992, it took a Clinton to clean up a Bushes’ mess. In 2008, it will take another Clinton to clean up another Bushes’ mess!” The battle between Clinton and Obama is difficult, since their opinions are so close to each other. Clinton's recent arguments are “The White House is such a mess, this country needs someone with experience to clean it up” while Obama's point-of-view focuses on “we need change in this country. Someone fresh, with little bureaucratic political experience to bring this change; we don't want to go back to the 90s!”. This is basically the only way they can 'attack' each other.

Another thing that shocked me is the media's opinion and influence on politics. This picture caught my eye a few weeks ago, when Clinton lost several states in a row:

You can see immediately that this is a simple photoshop edit of normal facial expressions. However, when the headline is 'Clinton desperate for a win', you see the manipulation: no one wants to see a desperate president! A few weeks later Obama was the target. I saw the following picture on the internet, where someone compared his real photo (left) with a published photo:

Someone tried to make him look more black on that photo. A gossip magazine had a cover story on Obama last week - I can't remember the exact title but it was something like 'Full Story: Obama and his many terrorist-friends!'. Since most people prefer reading these papers instead of watching debates on TV, the media has a huge influence! Anyhow, it was an amazing experience to be present at Hillary's speech!!

For more pictures click here!