Thursday, May 18, 2006

Face Value

For those who follow the news, I'm sure some of you are familiar with yesterday's heartwarming television debut of Tony Snow as the newly appointed Speaker of the House. During the press conference he was asked by a reporter about his yellow wristband. All that was missing was a wide-eyed "What, this old thing?" from Snow. According to an srticle in the Sydney Times Herald:

Snow responded: "It's going to sound stupid, and I'll be personal here," Mr Snow, a colon cancer survivor, said of his bracelet. Then, he choked up. Unable to speak, he raised his hand, gripped the lectern and drummed his fingers while 10 seconds of silence passed. "Having gone through this last year," he continued, then lapsed into another silence. Finally, he added, "it was the best thing that ever happened to me". Nine more seconds of awkward silence followed as Mr Snow struggled to regain his composure. "It's my Ed Muskie moment," he quipped, referring to a Democrat who once appeared to cry in public. The joke got a big laugh.

For someone who's a fellow Cancer survivor and advocate of the whole 'Live Strong' movement, I couldn't help but raise an eyebrow when Snow made reference to "Lance Anderson," later correcting himself when reporters were left scratching their heads: "I think I called Lance Armstrong `Lance Anderson'''

Afterwards, newspaper articles were brimming with words like "personal," "brave" and "real." What a debut! What a guy! What a crock. I'm so not buying it, but then I also didn't buy the whole "Excuse me while I experience a feeling" schtick when Anderson Cooper did it while covering the Katrina crisis. Walter Cronkite getting emotional while reporting on Sept. 11. That I bought. It felt genuine.

The position of White House Press Secretary has a history of being filled by those with news media backgrounds. Snow is no exception, being a former news anchor and talk show host. I think he garnered the kind of reaction he was fishing for.

Personally, I thought the fad of the Live Strong bracelets (developed by celebrity/Cancer survivor, Lance Armstrong, in conjunction with Nike) fad had come and gone. You know, like the other cause du jour: AIDS ribbon, red Kabbalah bracelet, etc. The current one being (and still going strong, especially in political circles) the American flag pin. And that's just one of the reasons the whole episode smacked of publicity stunt. Don't get me wrong, I think the majority of the 'awareness' ribbons/wristbands originated from a genuine nobility, but I think a lot of it has degenerated into slacktivism or, in this case, public relations emotional manipulation. Personally, my new favorite ribbon du jour is The Bacon Ribbon (obesity awareness). To be honest, I don't know who or what to believe anymore, which is both disheartening and potentially dangerous. I'll just ad this latest performance to the growing list next to prescription medication, the medical profession, charities, the news, panhandlers...


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