Last night (April 7, 2006) we were watching Scott McClellan in the White House press room responding to an onslaught of questions from reporters about leaks, classified information, and whether President Bush has declassified information for his party’s political gain (versus for the good and safety of the country).
Scott was a masterpiece of composure and a masterpiece of rhetorical wordgames. I find it funny that people decried Clinton from playing semantics, yet as far as I can tell, every politician from both parties pushes semantics to the hilt. Clinton wants us to know what the meaning of “is” is. Bush wants us to know that “declassified today” means “released to the public today” and that leaks aren’t leaks when he decides to leak them.
The funnest part was watching Scott’s body language. Check out Paul Ekman’s book “Emotions Revealed.” Ekman tells us that we have microexpressions that reveal our true emotions, even when we’re trying to hide them. Through the miracle of our DVR, we were able to freeze-frame and slow Scott’s face during critical questions. He was a veritable case study for Ekman’s micro-expressions. Our favorite came when a reporter asked Scott about the President’s reaction to the news story. We replayed it on super-slow-motion about a dozen times. He had sudden tightened lips, brows drawn slightly together, and his lower eyelids tightened. All signs of anger.
At this point, politics is so broken that I’m even losing the will to act. I have no faith in either party to understand, much less act in, the country’s long-term best interest. I have no faith in either party to understand, much less act on, the truly catastrophic dangers of our time: peak oil and global warming.
Values-wise, I happen to be socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Relatively speaking, that means I side with the Democrats. (At least during my lifetime, the four Republican administrations have racked up $7 Trillion in debt, and I highly disapprove of such fiscal recklessness. Give me tax-and-spend over borrow-and-spend any day. At least you feel the pain immediately rather than burdening your grandchildren for life!)
I don’t know what to tell you about politics, and it doesn’t matter, because it won’t change your mind anyway. But certainly check out Ekman and body language. At least you’ll get some entertainment out of the circus.