One aspect of Leadership Down: Almost anywhere a person might look, he or she is likely to see some aspect of Leadership Down.
This morning, we looked at New York magazine's Daily Intelligencer site. When we did, we found a three-person discussion of mainstream press gaffe culture.
When did mainstream gaffe culture start? Did it start with Candidate Muskie's alleged or actual crying-based gaffe way back in 1972, when the world was still young? This ginormously-ballyhooed "gaffe" played a key role in bringing this Democratic front-runner down.
We may revisit that remarkable press corps incident in next week's award-winning series, The Rise of Leadership Down. We may also discuss the Bernie Shaw-engineered "gaffe" which helped bring Candidate Dukakis down four White House cycles later.
(Hiding in bushes outside his home, several journalists had already succeeded in bringing down Candidate Hart.)
Full disclosure! We've been told that next week's series will win awards by Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves (TM), the disconsolate group of future scholars who directed our gaze to the aforementioned discussion of gaffes.
According to these future analysts, the mainstream press corps' devotion to gaffes was a leading sign that our self-impressed species, Homo sapiens, was never wired to perform its self-assigned role as "the rational animal." Eventually, this led us to the global conflagration known as Mister Trump's Lunatic War.
(According to these future scholars, the war began with a sneak attack on Nordstrom headquarters in Seattle. This followed buyers' refusal to purchase several parts of Ivanka Trump's spring line.)
"We were always 'too dumb to be self-governing,' " these morbid future scholars have said. They've told us that the press corps' silly devotion to gaffes was a leading sign of this anthropological problem.
Whatever! At New York magazine, the three participants discussed a particular question, as defined by their headline:
"Has Trump Rendered the Political Gaffe Obsolete?"Needless to say, the focus was on Candidate Biden. Our analysts stared into middle distance when one participant discussed The Gaffes of Candidate Biden, which she'd found pitifully listed in this pitiful Newsweek report.
During the colloquy, this journalist mistakenly said that the list had been published by Time. Setting that pointless gaffe to the side, her comment about Biden's alleged gaffes went exactly like this:
COMMENT ABOUT BIDEN'S "GAFFES:" Most range from “meh” to kind of endearing when viewed through Trump-weary eyes. What is asking a paraplegic state senator to stand up so everyone can applaud him—and quickly realizing the error—when you have Trump’s infamous mocking of a disabled reporter? So yeah, I think a lot of these things aren’t even going to register. But as we saw with Hillary’s “deplorables” remark, if just one line catches on, it can make a dent.What sort of comment counts as a "gaffe?" In the eyes of this early-30s journalist—she went to one of the finest schools—a gaffe might be a brief, fleeting, quickly corrected, utterly pointless mistake of a type any person could make.
That would count as a gaffe! Also, a gaffe might be a remark in which a candidate declares that thirty million American voters are "deplorable" and "irredeemable," due to their presumed participation in a stew of noxious attitudes. That too would be a gaffe!
A trivial error can be a "gaffe," but so can a sweeping denunciation of 30 million Others! Our press corps has always reasoned this way and, according to future scholars, our press corps always will!
At some point along the way, the denizens of our mainstream press began to focus on gaffes. According to the scholarly research of Future Anthropologists Huddled in Caves, this focus, and the failure to leave it behind, was part of the phenomenon which, in the aftermath of war, would be known as Leadership Down.
Also this: Later in the New York magazine colloquy, this exchange occurs:
JOURNALIST ONE: Okay, so let’s say there’s less focus among media and voters this time around on small-ball verbal miscues. (I’m not convinced this will actually happen.) Wouldn’t that be a good thing? Perhaps a rare salutary side effect of Trump’s domination of a political party?What ever happened to fiery youth? Where do they find these kids?
JOURNALIST TWO: I’ll say yes, good thing. We’re living in Idiocracy, I don’t really care if a politician is caught saying “big fucking deal” on a hot mic. Everyone acting scandalized by comments like that was probably always a bit unnecessary.
Concerned about the approach of perdition, Journalist One sanely suggests that it might be a good idea to lose the focus on utterly pointless "small-ball verbal miscues."
Journalist Two tries to agree! She says that she no longer cares if someone like Biden says "big fucking deal" when, as far as he can tell, no one else is able to hear him. She no longer cares about that!
That said, how strongly does this journalist really "get" this point? Everyone pretending to be scandalized by nonsense like that "was probably always a bit unnecessary," she forces herself to say.
She's having a hard time quitting those gaffes, several future scholars have told us. When it comes to the problem of Leadership Down, it's hard to dispute what they've said.