Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain = Wagner?

Josh Marshall, leader of the TPM media empire, was called out by his readers for improperly using Wagner as an analogy for the McCain strategy:

The core is to drill a handful of key adjectives into the public mind about Barack Obama: Muslim, anti-American, BLACK, terrorist, Arab. Maybe a little hustler and shifty thrown in, but we'll have to see. The details and specific arguments are sort of beside the point. They're like the libretto in a Wagner opera, nice for some narrative structure. But it's the score that's the real essence of it, the point of the whole exercise.
Here is the update:
Late Update: A few insightful readers have noted that Wagner is perhaps not the best illustration of my libretto to score metaphor since Wagner is one of the few major composers -- I'm actually not sure there are any others -- to write his own libretti. Perhaps my blind spot is a product of my listening to Wagner without knowing German. In any case, I think my general point remains valid. Perhaps I should have picked on Verdi. But for me nothing -- nothing in opera at least -- compares to Wagner.
Josh understandably misses the major point. It isn't that Wagner wrote his own libretti, but that Wagner considered the music, drama, poetry, and art design to be all equal in creating the great artwork he called Gesamtkunstwerk. The score reflects nuances in drama, as shown by Leitmotifs and associative keys. If you want to pick on meaningless opera libretti, lets go with Rossini, Donizetti, or Josh's second choice, Verdi.


Elaine Fine said...

Would you consider Otello meaningless? Maybe McCain's camp might have a little Iago in them. Granted, the character was created by Shakespeare, but Boito and Verdi gave him a voice as well as his proper role as an operatic villian.

Scott said...

No, not Otello. But I would put Ernani in the silly category.

Nice analogy with Iago, though. I just hope that doesn't make Obama Otello, with McCain/Iago successfully tricking him into betraying his wife/principles/electorate.