| Aside from it's purpose as a useful prop which allows politicians to happily chow down with the common people while still retaining a pointing device, corn has always proved quite useful over the years as a communication device. |
A true leader understands the importance of an ear of corn on all of it's symbolic levels. Observe, for example, President Obama standing in a cornfield, telling the people of Wichita that despite the fact that the economy has gone to hell and that many of them will likely never work again, they still can share in the rich bounty of corn, one of the true bargains of the vegetable kingdom. Corn is our heritage, he can tell them, immediately after which the Republicans will respond that their heritage is not corn but cauliflower and this whole obsession with corn seems suspiciously European.
One of the classic recent examples of the communicative value of corn took place in the early days of the George W Bush administration. Vladimir Putin was making a state visit, and being distrustful of Russia Bush chose to host him at a barbeque on his ranch rather than a more formal location. In a moment of bravado, Bush challenged Putin to a two mile bike race before eating, a challenge which the Russian handily won. Outraged by the loss, Bush grabbed one of the large roasting ears, and holding it threateningly, told Putin "I'm going to cut you, you son of a bitch". Unfazed, Putin grabbed an even larger ear of corn, stuck it between his legs, and shouted "Blow me, asshole". The two men laughed and laughed, and that day a lasting friendship was born.
Another common communicative value of corn is to convey a sense of menace. One cannot see the picture above without asking oneself 'Just what the hell is Kim Jong il doing with an ear of corn in what appears to be the North Korean stock exchange? What fiend gave it to him and what sort of unholy alliance does the gift represent? Is it really an ear of corn or is it a solid gold bauble with which he can amuse himself while his nation starves? Another possibility arises: whereas Bush handled an ear of corn as a primitive but effective weapon, Jong might look at the same ear and ludicrously ask himself 'Could this be the key to unfathomable nuclear destruction?' And then he would lock fifty scientists into a room until they made it so.
While this look at this highly versatile foodstuff has been far from exhaustive, before we leave for happy hour it is important to note one last vital message it may send - it's undisputable power to convey empathy.
Observe Mitt Romney tenderly holding an ear of Iowa's finest. He appears not only bemused by the corn but deeply in touch with it, as though to say "This vegetable and I are much alike. I am one with this vegetable, and if you feel the same, I hope that you can open up your heart to me as well."
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