Posts Tagged ‘2021 Presidential Address And Rebuttal’


May 2, 2021

            Large item in the national news this past week was the President’s address to a “socially distanced” (to put it mildly) joint houses of congress. This was followed by the institutionally de rigueur rebuttal speech by the opposing party. Both were meant primarily for the prime time television viewing audience. That kind of explains the institutional requirement of a follow up address by the party opposed to the president. Which makes little sense in an age when folks can choose where and when to “tune in” on a device of their choosing. Also the institutional obligation to have a party in opposition. Analysis finds it not so hard to imagine both, if not multiple parties, without opposition but difference. But back to the visuals of the two events. Front and foremost was that of the addressors, one an old white guy, the other a young black guy. Background is important. It contributes context (which is why all those weathermen get blown over standing outside in a hurricane, or wading with alligators during a flood). Behind President Biden were the official government trappings of our representative democracy. These consisted of the leaders of the house and senate as well as one big flag which back dropped all three. Any head-on shot showed the flag behind the president even if it didn’t show Speaker Pelosi or Vice President Harris. The president always had a red or white stripe rising up vertically behind him. South Carolina Senator Tim Scott’s background consisted of the mandatory flag, only this time it was in the multiple. The surprise wasn’t the number, or kind (there were flags of the US as well as SC), but the angle at which they were presented. It was hard not to notice as one was forced to continuously “adjust” the upright Scott to the skewed backdrop while following his address. It was impossible not to notice that the multiple flags were arranged as a backslash diagonal (\), with the head of the flag starting above the speaker’s right side and sloping to his lower left. Coincidence? Was the senator leaning to the right?  It was hard to tell since, other than the senator himself, there was no vertical visual in the image field (such as a podium). Analysis concludes this was deliberate, and symbolic. Much as Scott’s address relied on flag, family and religion without any point by point rebuttal to the previous presidential address of specific policy proposals, so the special effects  folks at the opposing party relied on symbolic presentation to carry through this absence of any reasoned conversation (or argument). Multiple flags for multiple America’s. State flag given equal space and arrangement with national flag. Right at the top with left near the floor. Etc. Why the emphasis and reliance on symbol? Analysis finds it is precisely because symbols elide and negate reasoned conversation (debate) that they are employed as a means of political propaganda. The symbol embodies all kinds of feelings and fuzzy imagining, but only to the chosen ones who recognize it. Voila! Scott can say on television, in a short time spot, what cannot be verbalized in reasoned debate (conversation). So the backdrop contributed to the baseball, apple pie, and Chevrolet speech, successfully creating a unified visual reply without voicing any kind of policy proposal as to why or why not.