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It Ain't Politics--It's Show Biz. What Obama Has to Do Now

Progressives are tying themselves into knots, angling to insert facts into the Sarah Palin story, while the theatre, action and lights surrounding the ingénue-turned-faux-world-leader spin their magic and deliver star-struck voters.

We've seen this movie before: Steve Schmidt, who I'll call the Director, aka McCain's Karl Rove-trained campaign manager, previously served as Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's campaign manager. In both cases, the Director introduces his stunningly unprepared, but chisel-chinned actors, onto the campaign trail with only weeks until the election, and refuses to permit the media to ask hard questions, allowing the movie trailers and surrogates to unveil the plot.

Back in 2002, women sporting t-shirts declaring, "I'd rather be groped by the Terminator than Screwed By Davis," Davis being California Governor Gray Davis, the unwitting subject of California's historic recall election, were strategically positioned at every scripted media event to diminish the potential impact of sexual harassment allegations levied against Arnold Schwarzenegger. The props worked. The Terminator won. (Postscipt: 6 years later, Governor Schwarzenegger's poll numbers are back in the 30's as he grapples with a historic budget deficit exceeding $17 billion (yes, that's billion, with a 'b'), and partisan gridlock is worse than the conditions used to kick Democratic Governor Davis out of office.)

Meanwhile, progressives are busy blogging about the books Palin tried to ban. Did she really bill the state of Alaska for the nights she spent in her own home? Did she really hire a lobbyist to secure money for the infamous 'bridge to nowhere?' Is she really against abortion even in cases of rape and incest? Does she really want creationism taught in our schools? Yes! Yes! And Double Yes!!! And all the while, women aged 18 to 44, who are supposed to care about such things, are busy buying Sarah dolls, and librarian-style eyeglasses.

The facts aren't resonating here, folks.

Schmidt delivered the infamous 'celebrity' punch after Obama amassed a couple hundred thousand Europeans in Germany this summer to deliver a smart talk on foreign policy. But that isn't keeping Schmidt and Co. from hyping their own celebrity to win this election for McCain and his band of lobbyists, I mean, executive producers.

Obama, and the progressives gnashing their teeth, need to understand that, as with Gore in 2000, and Kerry in 2004, facts aren't going to sway our American Idol electorate, and that includes the most frustrating fact of all: That the majority of the people voting for the McCain/Palin ticket will continue to be worse off economically if the GOP wins. It'll take another Katrina, horribly botched, or, God forbid, another war, entered into for all the wrong reasons, to wipe the star dust from these voters' eyes in say, about 5 years or so.

In the meantime, what's an Obama to do?

Do I need to spell this out? Hire Hollywood! Quickly. Barack Obama, you've got a great story line! Single mother on food stamps! See if Natalie Portman is available! Only met your father once! Where's Denzel? Your mother woke you up at 4 am to make sure you made something of yourself! What's Sally Field doing these days when she's not worried about bone loss? The people who raised you are white! Let me say that again....The people who raised you are white! Find some Midwest-looking old white people from central casting now! You turned down Wall Street for Main Street not to organize communities---fire that writer, I mean campaign consultant---but to work with area churches to rid apartments of asbestos---Is Erin Brockovich busy? How about Julia Roberts playing Erin Brockovich?

Do you get the picture?

Then make this picture now--you don't really have to hire A-list actors---but you do need a better script, and show it in every movie house and TV screen, from now until election day until the American people feel like they know you. You'll know you're doing all right when the sales of your doll figures and lunch boxes eclipse the sales of your third book!

In other words, for God's sake: Stop writing. Start connecting.

It ain't dishonest.

It's show biz-- aka politics --in the entertainment age, and if progressives don't get it by now, we never will.


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Guest contributor Terry Leach is a health policy consultant, writer, and attorney who has spent years providing strategy to Democratic political campaigns and causes, including stem cell research and access to primary care for the uninsured. An award winning author with an MFA, Terry writes for The Huffington Post and has been published in the Oregonian and the San Francisco Chronicle.
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