There is no shortage of contenders for the worst in human nature, but the union of faith and cynicism, righteousness and arrogance makes its own historical claim. Join a politician who casts his candidacy as the preservation of religious traditions with the corruption of public discourse that is political media and we arrive at a contender.

Rick Santorum repeatedly states that “Obamacare” is “the beginning of the end of freedom in America.” If it were, truly were, the end of freedom in the United States of America, what would be the appropriate thing to do? What, after all, is our American heritage? So when we get a Santorum supporter calling out as Santorum takes shooting practice that he “pretend it’s Obama” – a call Santorum later condemns, as John McCain would correct the woman who stated to him that Barack Obama is “an Arab” – there is no need to ponder the sources of the fear-mongering contempt that led to such ugliness.

Now this weekend we get the nightmare scenario of Obamaville “if Obama is reelected.” In this horror film, at about the 40 second mark, the face of evil, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is replaced for that consciously near unnoticeable fraction of a second on the television screen, just about as the words “sworn American enemy” are spoken, by President Obama’s. Rick Santorum, that good and Christian man, whose tender voice often quivers a bit with the sincerity of his beliefs and his mission as he tells his audiences what this campaign is meaningfully about – that righteous Santorum, tribune of Godliness and freedom, resorts to the kind of subliminal messaging technique, however arguable in its effect, appropriate to totalitarian brainwashing.

When Dylan Byers asks,

 Is the moment when Ahmadenijad and Obama’s images are interspersed meant to suggest that they are the same person?

Santorum spokesman Hogan Gidley responds,

I’m [sic] don’t know that it was ‘interspersing,’ I’m confused by that. Obviously I’m not trying to say anything about Obama and Ahamdenijad [sic]. So if we’re not trying to say anything about that, then I don’t understand the issue.

Does Gidley need a pocket dictionary to check the definition of “intersperse”? He’s confused by the question? “Obviously” he’s not trying to say anything? The eye sees two images mixed together by choice – the obvious question to ask is why they were mixed together. Even if one resorts to claiming that the selection was unconscious and meaningless, it clearly is not “obvious” that the campaign was not trying to say something by the comparison. Gidley is “confused” and doesn’t “understand the issue”? Really? Doesn’t comprehend – even if he disagrees – at all? What level of mental capacity are we dealing with in the Santorum campaign – the kind perhaps that believes the mental capacity of the electorate is such that the lowest conversational tripe can fall from the lips like spittle and it will not matter?

John Brabender, of Brabender Cox, the media company that actually produced the ad, dissimulated more professionally.

To see [a conflation of Obama and Ahmadinejad] would be to see something that was not intended to be there in any way.

I regularly instruct students taking their first literature course that when there is garbage on the street in a story or novel, it is not like garbage on a real street. The former was placed there by an author with intent. It has meaning. It is present for interpretation. The media professional, who personally oversaw production of the ad, tells the professional journalist, however, that in this very expensive mock film advertisement – which steals from the best filmmaking – a “conflation” of two images interspersed with each other, with those words sounding on the track at just that time, “was not intended to be there in any way.”

Either John Brabender is confessing to incompetence – the placement of images, frames, in a film without any conscious decision making about the placement, or awareness of the unconscious mental impression that might be made by that exact combination of image and sound – or he and the candidate for whom he works are contemptuous and contemptible liars, the very foulness they would have us believe they wish to cleanse, the founders of their own awful but all too familiar municipality.


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