Okay, I confess. I don’t have anything to say about Sen. Boxer’s actual hairstyle. Looks good enough to me, but I’m totally unqualified. For as many years as I remember, I have been doing nothing more than shampooing and running a little gel through my hair with my hands, enhanced by the occasional conditioning. Whatever Sen. Boxer is doing with her hair is far above my pay grade.

But I did want to comment on why Carly Fiorina’s open mic gaffe is important. It splashes cold water in the faces of all us voters. It forces us to dredge up a sickening feeling that, I dare say, most of us have about most of our political representatives — namely, that the persona so carefully constructed for public consumption has nothing to with the actual human being we don’t get to see.

For some, it is fear that the calm, measured, moderate Obama displayed to the public is, in secret reality, the radical Christomuslim terrorist from the world of Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers. For others, it is fear that the decades-long public/private service of Dick Cheney is, in secret reality, just a clever disguise for the energy industry controlling policy in Washington. In the end, we reject Hillary Clinton because we suspect the scarcely-glimpsed hot-tempered bitch is the real her; maybe she shouldn’t be the one answering the call at 3:00 a.m. We reject Sarah Palin because we suspect the scarcely-glimpsed (okay, maybe a little more than scarcely) self-serving prima donna is the real her. In our hearts, more than the excesses of liberalism and conservatism, we worry that our elected officials clock out at the end of the day, and head off to the bars for a night of non-partisan gloating over our gullibility. At some primordial level, we worry that our elected leaders are akin to a scene from a Mission Impossible movie, ready to peel off the full-head latex mask to reveal the incompletely unforeseen character underneath.

And that is what the Fiorina open mic moment reminds of us. What it forces us to confront. If even for the briefest of moments, we have to confront the utterly depressing possiblity that it’s all a big f&^%ing game, being played at our expense. That our leaders are as petty and small and stupid and cynical and uncharitable of heart as we are. Hell, we can’t even handle seeing FDR in his wheelchair, or JFK wearing his back brace, or Obama smoking. A weak electorate makes for bad candidates makes for inept governance.

Yep, that’s why Senator Boxer’s hairstyle matters.

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Okay, I posted that only four minutes ago, and already here is something along similar lines that I came across. Seems that ten years ago Meg Whitman shoved an eBay associate, leading to a $200,000 settlement with the employee. The percentage of the population who physically shove people around at work is what, 0.000003%, tops. I’ve been working for almost thirty years, and never once seen anything like it. I’ve met thousands of earnest, smart, ethical, competent, motivated, sincere people. But, nooooooooooooooo. we have to choose from the likes of them for our elected representation. Bullies and adulterers and narcissists and flat-out criminals. For f$^&’s sake.

The right-wing-osphere has been abuzz with indignation about a couple of recent Obama moments. First, there was the now infamous “arrogance” comment from his recent speech in France. And a couple of days later came the even more infamous “bow” to Saudi King Abdullah.

I think those who would seriously condemn our President for either or both of these need to do the following to be credible.

(1) Defend the interpretation that Obama was characterizing America in general as arrogant, dismissive, and derisive; versus that he was characterizing only the foreign policy of the previous administration as such. The latter is my interpretation; it makes more contextual sense to me. And as such, that comment was not only accurate, but constructive. His view is that we are better off with our allies grabbing an oar and rowing alongside us. Such fair-minded commentary signals an end to the go-f-yourself mentality of the previous administration, and helps bring such collaboration closer to reality. This was Obama’s campaign message; this is his reality. Some people may disagree, but that does not mean his approach is not sensible.

(2) Interpret Obama’s full quote. What do you make of the rest of his comments, addressing anti-American sentiment head on? There seems to be little attention given to that.

(3) Walk us through the implications of the bowing episode. Personally, I think he made an inadvertent mistake. He is inexperienced and not used to being on the world stage like that. The question is, what are the implications? Is there a case to be made that American sovereignty was lessened? That the Saudis will have enhanced confidence to defy us? Make that case. Otherwise, it is a trivial gaffe on a par with other presidential gaffes. Some of my personal favorites:

  • Ford: “There is no Soviet domination of Eastern Europe, and there never will be under a Ford administration.”
  • Reagan, not knowing a microphone was live: “My fellow Americans, I am pleased to tell you I just signed legislation which outlaws Russia forever. The bombing begins in five minutes.” Incidentally, this triggered a full scale military alert in the Soviet Union — infinitely more significant than Obama’s Saudi gaffe.
  • Bush 41, while visiting Auschwitz as vice president: “Boy, they were big on crematoriums, weren’t they?”
  • Clinton, not particularly gaffe-prone, but this statement lives forever and was a basis for his impeachment: “It depends upon what the meaning of the word ‘is’ is.”
  • Bush 43: At a G8 summit, Bush squeezed Germany’s chancellor Angela Merkel’s shoulders, causing a surprised Merkel to cringe.

The bottom line for me is this. The “arrogance” comment was a constructive furtherance of the new foreign policy direction he was elected to pursue; and the Saudi bow was an unimportant gaffe. I have not heard or read anyone criticize these events who didn’t already dislike Obama’s policies. That tells me a lot.