Name-calling is par for the course in political debates, but lately the word “gimmick” is being tossed around more than ever. After the president announced a new crackdown on illegal manipulation and rigging of the oil markets, his critics were quick to dismiss the effort as nothing more than a political gimmick.
House Republican Leader John Boehner suggested that there’s no proof that the measures will bring relief at the pump. Boehner and company were ready to call the president out on what they believe is the equivalent of an empty gift box. They asserted that the president was trying to give the appearance of doing something about rising gas prices without offering an effective solution that would really make a difference.
Admittedly, it is common for politicians to throw their constituents a political bone, with little or no meat, in an effort to win the public relations battle in the public arena. But I wonder why Republicans would ever use the word, when they have been accused of offering more than a few gimmicks of their own.
Do Republicans remember Joe the Plumber? During the last presidential campaign, “Joe” became an iconic figure carted around the country to embody the discontent some small business owners were having with the prospect of seeing their taxes raised under Obama. While Joe enjoyed a brief stint of popularity, it wasn’t long before the pundits spotted him out as a Republican gimmick.
Does the phrase 9-9-9 ring a bell? Former Republican presidential hopeful Herman Cain traveled the debate circuit touting his new handy dandy tax plan called “9-9-9.” And although the name should win an award for being catchy and memorable, the candidate was often unable to explain the plan when pressed for details. And so, it was discounted as a gimmick.
And what about that recent vote in the House on an amendment based on Obama’s 2013 budget? While the Republican budget contained top line spending and revenue numbers found in Obama’s budget, it was largely a shell that could have actually undermined some of the intended goals of the original Obama budget. And so, this too was discounted as a gimmick.
I believe that the American people are savvy enough to know a trick when they see one. How long will it take for both Republicans and Democrats to realize that people are wiser than they think? And how long will it take for their constituents to demand style over substance? Thanks to the internet and the non-stop, 24-hour news cycle, people are aware of the political tricks of the trade and that the game of politics is truly just that: a game. But I long for a time when politicians will promote substance over style and finally put their Etch-A-Sketches back in the toy chest where they belong.
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