Wednesday, August 15, 2018

An Unforced Error, or Soundbitten

Almost a decade ago, I learned how to talk in soundbites, and to word responses to questions carefully, saying only what I wanted to see print. After a Secret Science Club lecture, a web-journalist wanted to interview some attendees, and I was approached to give my opinion regarding the lecture series. I gave a well-considered answer about how science wasn't a series of proclamations from an Ivory Tower, but a methodology, and that it should be accessible to the layperson, not intimidating. I considered my statements and articulated them... then I made a joke: "Now that we have a nerd in the White House, they're going to need a bigger venue!" Guess which utterance saw print...

This brings me to the latest local news kerfuffle, Governor Andrew Cuomo's ill-considered statement: "We're not going to make America great again. It was never that great." Andrew, Andrew, Andrew... you don't say that. Sure, the American Experience wasn't so great for people of color, women, LGBTQ people, and religious minorities, but a seasoned politician doesn't just blurt out an easily decontextualized statement like Cuomo did. He could have conveyed a message counter to Trump's 'Make America Great Again' by saying that he wanted America to be great for everybody. This is the sort of soundbite which will be played ad nauseam by all media outlets, and amplified by right-of-center media. I'm not a huge Cuomo fan and would support many politicians, particularly Kirsten Gillibrand, over him in a 2020 Presidential primary... I think this pretty much spells the end of his national campaigning. He's running for re-election with Cynthia Nixon as a more liberal opponent, and I believe he will steamroll her simply by being an Establishment Candidate, but I think he blew his chances on the national stage. I can't say that I'm too upset at that.

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