Thursday, October 30, 2008

'Welcome to Wal-Mart. I'm John McCain.'

How many of you who watched the Obama infomercial last night caught the sly swipe at McCain's age? It came at the point where the ad focused on that older rural couple with health problems: The wife has all these prescription drugs to take and can't afford them, thus forcing the husband to go back to work as a greeter at Wal-Mart. "I'm 72 years old," he says plaintively, "I should be retired."* McCain, of course, happens to be 72. What a hoot. One also had to note the parade of governors lauding Obama, including Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas, who, as you might imagine, is female. (Sarah Palin is female and, believe it or not, also a governor.) And then there were the wheat fields and the ball fields and the sunrises and the flags, all those flags. Flags, flags, everywhere! Such potent subliminal messages throughout.

I know we don't elect presidents based on their filmmaking, but damn, what a slick piece of work that was. From the presidential setting to the letter-perfect middle-class vignettes** to the gauzy cinematography (though we don't normally use a word like that for campaign ads, it applies here) and the slo-mo dissolves...and all of it timed just right to allow for that deft cutaway to Obama's live speech in Florida. Wow. Is it too soon to begin calling him Slick Barry?

By the way, John Stewart once again showed why he's still the best in the biz when it comes to on-point political satire. Interviewing Obama for the The Daily Show, he noted that pundits have widely predicted that many white voters, when they get inside that voting booth, will find themselves simply unable to vote for a black man. "So," Stewart asked Obama, in typical deadpan fashion, "since your mother and grandparents were all white, do you think that when you get into the booth, you might have trouble voting for yourself?"

* Once again, I may not have the verbiage exactly right, but I'm close.
** No doubt intended to say Take that, Joe the Plumber!


RevRon's Rants said...

It *will* be refreshing to have an administration that actually works from a plan, toward achieving specific goals, won't it? Like the majority of Americans - not to mention the rest of the world - I've long since tired of the absence of integrity, thoughtfulness, and a degree of finesse in our leadership. Unfortunately for McCain (but fortunately for America), the Republicans have based their campaign on the erroneous notion that Americans should actually be afraid of such qualities in their leaders. It is my hope that this election will be a wake-up call for the Republican party, and will finally convince them to abandon the radical right-wing platform in favor of true conservative principles most Americans hold dear. I've a feeling that the Democrats have heeded that wake-up, as well, and that the parties that emerge from this election will gravitate toward the more centrist approach that the majority of voters prefer.

Anonymous said...

Obama is great from a script - nobody is better. From the angle of his chin (confident, bold) to his sublime pacing and rhythm, he delivers at a level that can't be touched. His infomercial was tight, slick, and as finly crafted as you will ever see in a political arena. Leni Riefenstahl would be proud.

But Obama's scripted teleprompter speeches write checks that his extemporaneous interviews can't cover. He hasn't done a press conference in over a month because he is an awful off-the-cuff speaker with too many "ahhs", "ummms" and stammering, fragmented thoughts.

Unfortunately for Obama, the presidency of the US is not a scripted event.

RevRon's Rants said...

I seem to remember him doing pretty well in the debates. Now if you wanna see someone who can't tell what day it is without a teleprompter or a set of talking point cards, you'll need to look at the "other" side. :-)

Fortunately for Americans, the presidential election isn't a schoolyard name-calling contest.

Anonymous said...

Obama's reliance on the teleprompter is a relatively recent occurrence, and a step he's taken in the name of caution. He's in the lead and doesn't want to screw up at this late date by improvising something that may have inadvertent overtones, e.g. that whole Joe The Plumber fiasco. This is a thoroughly reasonable, historically validated tactic for a candidate to take.

McCain, in contrast, relied on the teleprompter or very specific notes in almost all major (and most minor) appearances until quite recently. The only reason he speaks "extemporaneously" now is that he repeats the same four or five themes over and over, almost all of them attacks on Obama, and almost none of them telling America much about how he would actually govern. McCain speaks from memory, not from the heart. In fact watching him lately you wouldn't think he had one.

Anonymous said...

Anon 12:33 would you tell McCain to get a teleprompter? He sure needs one. "That one" is still haunting him. McCain and Palin show how smart Obama is in using a telepromter. I bet all the GOP advisors were crying, when she kept bringing up clothes. I can hear them now "stick to the script, stick to the script."

Anonymous said...

The father of neocons, Francis Fukuyama, endorses Obama for president at The American Conservative. Not only that, but he also slams Bush, McCain, and Republicans and their warped philosophy. A sure sign that the end of the world must be near. Or at least the end of history. ;)

See it here:

P.S. Fukuyama, of all people... It gives me hope for the conservatives of this country. It shows that there are still some who value reason and integrity more than mindless adherence to ideology.

Anonymous said...

That was one slick flick, no doubt about it. The stories were touching, too. To me, though, as the voice of dissent here, it was most effective at illustrating one key difference that exists, or at least always used to, between the Democratic and Republican parties. Obama's tour de force was almost all sentiment, all heartstrings. The GOP prefers to stand on its ideology. I admit that this has become more muddled in recent years, but I think the basic distinction is true. Democrats govern primarily with their hearts, whereas Republicans primarily use their heads. I'd still rather have the logic than the hearts and flowers.

By the way, Eliz will be interested to know that my verification word is diurrea. I kid you not.

Anonymous said...

Hey Steve, I came across this link and thought of you:
Joe the Plumber failed to show up to a McCain rally but nobody told McCain. Read that story and try to tell me it isn't the funniest thing you have read in a while.

RevRon's Rants said...

"Republicans primarily use their heads."

Recent (like for the last decade or so) evidence to the contrary! At least the circular firing squad that's already forming in the red tent won't have as much negative impact as the decade of political suicide we've just witnessed.

For the life of me, I can't see why it's not possible to have brains and a heart.

Steve Salerno said...

Anon 6:54, yeah, just saw coverage of that on MSNBC. Word is, Gramps was not pleased....

Anonymous said...

Joe did not show up because he was auditioning for (or at least contemplating) a country music gig:

The possibilities for his advancement are endless now; forget the plumbing license, who needs that nonsense. And should McCain lose, Joe'll need something to fall back on (hence the country music engagement -- but it is not clear whether he sings or plays an instrument any better than he does the plumbing).

What an archetypal character, that Joe. The only thing he needs in his resume now is a stormy relationship and broken heart -- oh, wait, he's got that and more. According to his divorce court records (available on-line), the man was involved in domestic abuse when married to his ex.

Roger, the verif word is funny. Since we are on the subject, the verif word for my previous post (on Fukuyama) was "sylly." (I preferred not to mention it, however.:) Yesterday I also saw "terse" and "gotcha." I wonder if these words are indeed randomly generated or if somebody is playing with us, at least on occasion.

I agree with Rev, however, on heads and hearts together. I don't think Dems and Repubs have a monopoly on sentiment and logic, respectively. Indeed, in the last eight years of the Republican rule there has been precious little logic in evidence. The highlight of unlogic for me -- or the triumph of ideology over reason -- was the recent wide-eyed admission by Greenspan that there was a "little glitch" (paraphrased) in his belief (or ideology) that free market was the best economic system human beings could think of. That is, his attempt at admission of guilt was admirable, though funny because of that deer-in-the-headlights look on his face while he searched, ever so carefully, for the right words to absolve himself of any responsibility for the economy's collapse. And he was so surprised, poor thing, that he could be so wrong for so long, even though many experts predicted this turn of events some time ago. Ay yay.

Of course Greenspan's gentle and surprised (non)admission of error was too little, too late -- not to mention that his belief in the wonderfulness of the free market unencumbered by regulation was, well, plain stupid all along. (Sorry, but, as Roger knows, sometimes we need to call a spade a spade here.:)

And as if to prove a point (ha ha), my verif word is "blekh."
Now tell me these things are totally random...

Stever Robbins said...

Elizabeth, I read Warren Buffett's annual report every year and have for the last 15 years. He's been highlighting derivatives dangers for years. Given that he's the most successful investor of all time--and made his billions purely through the functioning of markets--I'd say that he would be worth listening to. Perhaps Greenspan had never heard of him...?

Anonymous said...

I belong to a few economic groups and we have all known about the collapse of the banking systems. You know it's bad when the people selling the stuff (investment banks) cannot even explain what they are selling. We've been talking about it for years. It was just common sense. I am pretty sure Greenspan knew too, but it was not in his best interest to care. Everyone was making money so why rain on anyone's parade?