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TUESDAY, JULY 12, 2016
Mmm...tastes like Elitism
Imagine, just imagine, if that headline appeared in papers around the world on November 5, 2008. Or imagine instead, if the headline had said: "Senator Obama Loses Election - Negative Sentiment Towards Bowling Skills Could not be Overcome." And even though he did win, imagine if the papers had written: "Obama Wins Election - McCain Just Too Old For People."

It seems silly to think of these headlines as plausible now that the race is over, the new president is in office, and we're able to take a look back at what was - what will, for the rest of our lives be referred to as - a historic race.

When I think about this past presidential race, I find myself not thinking much of the substance, nor of the pettiness. Substance was the largest criticism of Obama - many arguing his rhetoric contained few concrete solutions, and was mostly messianic speeches that resembled speeches of religious faith, more than they did of policy. On McCain's side, substance seemed to be equally lacking as his solutions were often changing, and he had early on shot himself in the foot with his comments about the economy. Pettiness there was suprisingly even less of - McCain deciding to stay away from the easy attacks against Obama regarding Rev. Wright, and the many many myths floating around about Obama. Towards the end, there certainly was an increased pettiness, with McCain's rallies growing a little out of hand - but for the duration of most of the race, these attacks were few and far between. The same with Obama - the only pettiness arising at the slight insinuations that McCain was a bumbling old man. But the two were virtually walking on ice, afraid that any attack could be refuted with either the race or ageism card.

Where there lacked pettiness, and where there lacked substance, one thing prevailed: Silliness. Then-Senator Obama pointed it out early on when, still racing against Hillary, when he mentioned entering "silly-season in politics."1 in response to the infamous line, "Change you can Xerox."

When I think back to the attacks I heard this past presidential race, it's filled with silly ones - Obama being an elitest, McCain being an old man, Clinton being an emotionless cyborg. So impressed was the media when Cyborg V2 was released, with the new state-of-the-art emotion plugin, that they were convinced the plugin single-handedly won the polls, defying all polls.

There was a time when some worried Obama would lose because he mentioned the cost of purchasing Arugula, and that he couldn't bowl. And compared to Hillary, who could down a shot and chase it with a beer, that was quite a huge deal. Most people I had spoken with couldn't see any of those silly issues even as issues - but, they would mention, it may be an issue for others.

It's left me wondering - is is truly an issue? If I order a cheeseburger, but ask for a slice of Gouda instead of plain ol' cheddar, do I risk not being hired for a job? Why would my order of food be of concern to anyone? If it's smell doesn't overpower the delicate palate of whoever is sitting across the table, is there truly a concern? More specifically, is there just cause for believing that some American people may be concerned with Obama's love of Arugula?

Researching business lunches, I once found some pretty sound advice in the book The Art of the Business Lunch: Building Relationships Between 12 and 2, by Robin Jay. When it comes to choosing a restaurant, Jay writes: "Your choice says a lot about you and about how you feel toward the client. Too casual or inexpensive and the client may not feel valued. Too extravagant and expensive and they may perceive you as wasteful and wonder how careful you'll be with their money if you win their business."

That, I believe, hits the proverbial nail right on the head. When considering who seemed to make the most attacks with regards to Obama's cheese preference, it came largely from Conservatives - especially Rush Limbaugh - who constantly referred to him as an elitest, among other things. And Conservatives are likely to be quite concerned with wasteful spending. (Enter Obama's $800 billion stimulus package, stage left.)

With respect to Hillary Clinton, was she lacking the important compassionate side of being President? When it came to McCain's age, or Hillary Clinton's robotic heart, the attacks and arguments were silly, though rooted in a larger concern. What if McCain died in the middle of his presidency, leaving us with Sarah Palin? Or, to a lesser extreme - what if he suffered from some ailment typical to old age? What potential situations could we inherently be facing if we didn't just go with the younger guy, who was visibly healthier?

These were all important and valid questions, and sadly it seems the media focused on the issues far to facetiously, instead of looking at the root of the issue. But if you consider the concern some may have about an "elitest," you may begin to understand that Arugula was never quite the issue.


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