Wyoming epitomizes retail politics. Meeting and talking with people, shaking hands, and making stump speeches. In a recent discussion with a Wyoming political office holder, the conversation drifted to politicians who have the “gift of oratory,” providing an apparent edge in public discourse and debate. However, we agreed there’s no correlation between rhetoric and substance. Wowing the crowd with flair, frippery, and displaying eloquent and feckless words, is a staple long used by many politicians, marketers, advertising gurus, slick “prosperity preachers,” and hucksters alike, designed to obfuscate the fact that they’ve little to say; roundly void of substance or content. Their hallmark is pandering to the individual or crowd’s general disregard for the validity or falsity of the speaker’s language.
Too often the manner of presentation or the argument trumps the truth or legitimacy of the proponents rant, and soaring rhetoric. Twice President Obama, chose this malevolent strategy, knowing full-well the malleable state of ill-informed voters, moved the voting block’s mind that was up for grabs. Examine closely our choices this August and November. Is there substance? We’ll have to peel off the veneer to discover the facts. That’s our job.
Over the years, consider how many couples, married or otherwise, have lost a mate to “the other guy or gal” who relied on enticing words, disarming good looks, gifts, and alluring words that swept “our former” off their feet, exchanging substance for style? It’s not gender specific, duly noting that the road of the forlorn and jilted is strewn with wreckage for both sexes. History’s replete with untold, ruptured relationships ending in dalliances, disaster, even death. Today’s relationships “gone sour” are tomorrow’s news plastered on Facebook, twitter, or a wide range of social media websites, with all the tawdry, gory details, and photos for millions to gawk at in great derision and vicarious drama.
The human condition appears to be prone or susceptible to feigned flattery, fast talk and false promises that eclipse our senses. Senior citizens have been scammed out of their life savings to one or more persons generally described as “smooth talking, good looking, and sounded like they knew what they were talking about.” Most of us have, at one time or another, been left with “buyers remorse” after failing to check the facts, choosing rather to base decisions on emotion, impulse, or some visceral response, entering into that perfidious zone of emphasizing style over substance. Whether it was a “deal to good to pass up” or “the chance of a lifetime,” the outcome was starkly pale in contrast with the pitch.
In the Middle Ages, when meat was scarce, but cats, dogs and pigs weren’t, the now common term of “buying a pig in a poke,” or “letting the cat out of the bag,“ found its origin in this often used confidence trick of buying an item without properly examining, or inspecting the contents, not knowing the true value of the “thing in the bag.” Though archaic and odd sounding in our “enlightened generation,” one may do well to heed that old bromide before conducting commerce or social intercourse of any kind. Choose wisely. Cars, boats, jewelry, politicians, or relationships; they should all come with a warning label. Caveat emptor.
So “letting the cat out of the bag” takes on new meaning in context of “revealing the truth” of what’s actually in the bag. In a 1929, edition of a literary magazine, London Aphrodite, a story entitled, “A Pig in a Poke” was published in which a Welsh collier, takes a “fancy” London lady for his wife, and it chronicles a life-long sense of remorse and regret for his miscalculated choice of a mate. In the midst of our angst over our “buyer’s remorse,” regardless of the plane of existence, the visceral reaction tends to correspond directly to the emotion we have invested in that decision.
Consider the eternal plane. Legions are duped by religious cults and counterfeit versions of Christianity, suffering a remorse equivalent to their souls investment that may well cost them eternal consequences for their pernicious trade. In the political arena we can be heartened that “political malingerers” can be removed from office. Doing business with the Devil, isn’t nearly so transient.
As the present disappears, and the shadows and images of the future yet to be revealed, unfold, and our fleeting memories are but an echo in our ear, we dare not forget when we exchanged style over substance, or falsehood over truth. Destined to be at our beckoned recall, time has a way of eroding our ability to capture the essence of what we did, and the reasons why we acted as we did. Often we painfully settle for a revision suitable to our appetite for solace, rather than capturing the original version, and coming to grips with it. Duplicity pays no homage to truth.
Michelle Malkin’s well documented, 2009, Culture of Corruption, reveals a comment Hillary Clinton asserted in 2008, “I think I’m probably the most transparent person in public life.” In the midst of her email expose’ she parroted that same line. Malkin noted the Clintons promised in 1992, America gets “two for the price of one.” That’s a high price to pay for two serial liars. Lying until the tropic sun turns cold.
Raw facts and the dazzling brilliance of the truth jolt us from our reverie, brutalizing and buffeting that idyllic, felicitous, romanticized time we covet so dearly, demanding we’re percipient to the lessons learned from these life altering choices. Whether it’s politics, or another realm of our journey, don’t be fooled by external glitz, vacuous words, and duplicitous language. Ephesians 5:6 warns, “Let no one deceive you with empty words.”
Look beyond political slogans. One must ask, “What will embracing this speech cost me in the long run?” President Ronald Reagan observed, “It has been said that politics is the second oldest profession. I have learned it bears a striking resemblance to the first.” What do you think?
Mike Pyatt’s a Natrona WY resident. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org