Friday, August 29, 2008

Good Idea, Poorly Executed

The spectacle of the DNC presentation last night in the football field reminded me, in a way, of the Wellstone memorial at Williams Arena from almost six (SIX!?) years ago. The aspect of bringing together the stars of the party to rev up the troops with a message of inspiration and unity. I thought it was effective political theater then and it was again last night.

Through the mystic chords of memory, oberservations from 2002:

Even though I didn't respect most of the politicians in attendance, it was exciting to see that many nationally prominent and historical political figures congregating in one place. The way they marched in one by one, Gore, Daschle, Clinton, Rodham-Clinton, Bird, Mondale, it incrementally swelled the excitement of the crowd and led to heightened and soaring expectations of who would be next. This kind of presentation, combined with the crowd's rock star-like adoration for these individuals, was gripping, particularly to the television audience. It reasonably should spread a positive opinion of the Democratic party to any of the undecided or so-called independent minded voters who watched. This should be true not just in Minnesota, but across the country too. To these swing voters, the dismal records of individuals like Clinton or Mondale can fade away to irrelevance when confronted with the sight of a crowd enthusiastically roaring their approval of them. This impression is cemented by the supposedly nonpartisan nature of the event and of the attendees.

I think this type of event has potential to become an annual pre-election night tradition, for one or both parties. If they could broadcast it nationwide, it's impact could be substantial. The problem is achieving the impression that the crowd is simply made up of citizens rather than of hard core party activists. Short of the untimely, yet regularly scheduled, death of a candidate every year, I'm not sure how that could be accomplished.

The answer to that conundrum turned out to be qualifying your candidate by their charisma and celebrity quotient, rather than more traditional means (experience, great ideas, proven judgment).

Ah, if only I would have stopped that post in 2002 right there, I'd be considered a political prophet and probably blogging at a class joint, like MinnPost or Minnesota Monitor.

But I had to keep running my mouth running and came up with these gems .....

Most certainly, a Republican-leaning crowd would have responded in the same way if they were brought together under similar circumstances. It would have been exciting, maybe thrilling, to be in an auditorium as the stars of the Right were slowly brought out to take their well earned bows. To see the likes of say Newt Gingrich, Condoleeza Rice, George Bush Sr., Trent Lott, Bob Dole, Nancy Reagan, Tom DeLay, Alan Keyes, Dennis Hastert, Jack Kemp, Vin Weber, and Arne Carlson march down the stairs (or to see Gerald Ford fall down the stairs). The crowd would have gone wild and those who "vote the man not the party" would have seen these men and women cast in the light of heroes and winners instead of as ambitious politicians merely trying to get votes.

Pffffffffft. Was I really stupid then or did some of those GOP "stars" not mature all that gracefully? I'm just glad Larry Craig and Mark Foley barely missed my cut.

OK, time to take another stab at it. For the time capsule, to be opened in 2014. The GOP stars circa 2008 who, through the power of their ideas and rhetoric, would electrify an audience, create unity in the party, expand its influence among the undecided, and stand the test of time are:

--Gov. Sarah Palin (just watched her acceptance speech, a thrill .... it went up my leg)

--Newt Gingrich

--Karl Rove

--Donald Rumsfeld

--Sen. Tom Coburn

--Rep. Steve King (a wild card, seen him on some late night C-SPANs, not leg-thrillingly good, but good)

--some blood and guts General to be named later

I also realize you need some non-pols to really get things jumping. Sprinkling in the following would blow the lid off the joint:

Rush Limbaugh
Mark Steyn
Walter Williams
a short film by David Zucker (our Speilberg/Lucas/Burns)

Open for other suggestions from you, dear readers .......

The Elder Notes: While Saint Paul's list of thrilling Republicans may have come up short, I was struck by this paragraph near the end of the same 2002 post:

From my observations, no one really likes the one perfect family on the block. Instead they're resented for their happiness and for the fun house mirrors their chronic smiles hold up in front of the faces of their common place and quietly desperate neighbors. Therefore, it follows that nobody would really want to vote for people like this. Yes we (I mean they) come to accept the fact these individuals will make more money, will acquire greater influence, will love more deeply and be loved more often, but that's just how the cards were dealt. But when we have a choice in the matter, do we really want to self select these people as our political superiors too? It's like being in high school and voting for the guy who's the starting quarterback and class president for Homecoming King. Sure he's already dating the hottest cheerleaders in school and he's on his way to an Ivy League education and fame and fortune, but yes, by all means, let's choose to also put a crown on his head and metaphorically throw ourselves prostrate before his regal gaze.

Beautiful wife? Check. Ivy League education? Check. Fame and fortune? Check. Crowning, prostration, and regal gazes? Oh yeah.

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