May 27, 2005

Help from the Intern


It was interesting this week to observe the reaction to both the truce on the nuclear option, and George Voinovich’s emotional speech on the Senate floor opposing John Bolton.

Both the hard core left and the radical right went ballistic over the idea of a compromise.  At the same time, Voinovich’s emotional attack on Bolton — seen as too little too late by the left, and a flat-out betrayal by the right — was collectively written off as the folly of a wimp.  (Somehow, the lefties who viewed Voinovich as weak for not burying Bolton in committee seemed aloof to the fact this speech might have been an act of political suicide.)

I understand the desire not to give in, but I’m also starting to wonder about the cost.  I am even more concerned about it after watching the Voinovich clip and studying this MSNBC still.  In analyzing this image, you can basically split it into four aspects:  There is the Senate chamber in the background.  There is Voinovich.  There is the titling at the bottom of the screen.  And there is the person I’m calling “the intern.”

Because the background is often empty in a typical Senate floor speech, I don’t find much remarkable there.

Viewing the still like you would a photograph, Voinovich looks like any Senator giving his 2¢ in a C-SPAN out take.  Certainly, you don’t get much feeling of emotion from it.

As for the titling, it suggests Voinovich is crying.  Anyone familiar with cable news, however, knows these titles are dumb.  Also, comparing the man to the title, it doesn’t visually connect.  (In fact, the title doesn’t fit the clip, either.  He may have been emotional, but I thought Voinovich’s statement reflected more strength than weakness.) 

The reason I’m running this image, however, is because of the intern.

One of the great pleasures I receive from blogging are the messages I get from high school and college students.  They are just hungry to understand, read into, and particularly, see through the staging, the scripting and the general bullshit in the typical political picture.

If you preview this clip, watch this young woman.  Most of us who have been following politics might be terminally jaded by now, but not this girl.  She couldn’t be more affected by Voinovich’s appeal.  In fact, her expressiveness almost jumps out of the frame.

For myself, I couldn’t be happier to see this young women react so powerfully and genuinely to a Senate floor speech.  If this new generation decided it had to push us all aside in the name of moderation, I can’t imagine it would be such a bad thing.  If there’s anything I find more troubling than right wing extremism and the control that faction exerts over government, it’s the poisonous atmosphere the exists all the way around.

Video here (Windows Media Player format)

(image: MSNBC footage at

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Michael Shaw
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