Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stop picking on Willard! Maybe the glass is 47% empty, or it could be up to 53% full!


Confidential to Willard "top strategist" Stuart Stevens: it's looking more and more as if the chair is your most reliable speaker. Perhaps you should try having it take over more of the campaign's public interfacing. Like maybe have the chair stand in for Willard when it comes to the presidential debates.

by Ken

When I read that the infamous gathering at which Willard Inc. was unknowingly caught for posterity lopping off 47 percent of the country took place at some rich swell's manor in Boca Raton, the first thing that occurred to me was that I think my rich New England cousins both have their winter palaces in or around Boca. I wouldn't be terminally shocked to learn that one or both of them was on the premises.


But to get back to Willard vs. the 47%, doesn't it just steam you that some hopelessly negative, un-American whiners can only see the glass as 47 percent empty rather than up to 53 percent full? Okay, so the lunk, thinking himself safe in the bosom of his kind of people, made it awkwardly clear that he doesn't give a crap about the 47%t. Did anybody actually think he did? Whereas he left open the possibility that he does give a crap about as much as 53 percent of the population. According to my notes, the highest previously estimated Willard Core Population was 1%, with other estimates ranging down to 0.1%. Which makes for an increase by a multiple of something like 53 times, and possibly much larger than that.

It's true that the 53% still don't know what the Incorporated Man is prepared to do for them, and if I were in their group, I wouldn't be spending the money just yet. Still, compared with his previously known Circle of Empathy, this video places him practically in the populist group.


Sure, it was easy to make fun of the poor old guy, who in his dotage seems to have lost touch with the classic actor's dictum to avoid working one-on-one with a child, an animal, or a piece of furniture. The chair may not have upstaged the Old Prospector, I mean Clint, in the way that, say, an adorable little curly-haired girl might have, or a cocker spaniel with oh-so-soulful eyes, but it was hard to deny that the chair had the better lines in their little skit. The campaign strategists should be thinking of making it their principal spokesobject.


"[W]hatever [Romney campaign supremo Stuart] Stevens’s shortcomings, presidential candidates get the campaigns they want. And Romney, who in an interview with POLITICO last month said his leadership style very much centers on having a variety of smart people offering advice and him being the decider, has taken a very active role running his own campaign."
-- from Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei's Politico takedown,
"Inside the campaign: How Mitt Romney stumbled"


"Some Romney loyalists think Stevens never fully appreciated what a good and unique candidate they had in Romney, and pleaded early on to showcase what they saw as a generous, wise and gifted leader. Still, for reasons not fully understood by those around Romney, the candidate not only went with Stevens but gave him tremendous authority."
-- also from the Allen-Vandehei Politico piece (see above)

From which the place my mind immediately gravitates to is --


Creator-writer Aaron Sorkin talks about the next-to-last Season 1 episode of The Newsroom, "The Blackout, Part 2: Mock Debate," beginning with the ACN news team's pitch for a 2012 Republican primary debate.

Just Sunday night I voiced ongoing anxiety about watching episodes of Aaron Sorkin's HBO series The Newsroom -- even though I had in fact enjoyed the pilot a lot. I knew better, or thought I knew better, than to pay attention to the couple of reviews I glanced at, since it was clear that a lot of people who claim to admire the daylight out of Sorkin were really lying in wait for him, but still, I allowed myself to be spooked. [UPDATE: Oops! I just went to insert a link to this post on Sunday's and discovered that apparently I cut this whole Newsroom mention from it.]

Yesterday as an admittedly unorthodox Rosh Hashanah observance I got brave and peeked at Episode 2, and then Episode 3, and so on up to Episode 10, the season finale. I was, as you may gather, blown away, by a worthy successor to Sorkin's incomparable TV triumphs Sports Night and The West Wing. What a lot of people didn't get about West Wing, with its brilliant attention to realistic detail in the writing and staging, is that it was a political fantasy -- not of the wild dream-world kind, but of the kind that imagines how a world very much like ours could, with just bits of rearrangement here and there, be a very different sort of world.

So too with The Newsroom, and there's no better expression than the mock Republican presidential debate that's one of the central plot points of Episode 9, the culmination of the ACN news division's impassioned pitch for a 2012 Republican primary debate. Because the network's flagship news broadcast, News Night, Will McAvoy (Jeff Daniels), has had a dream for 25 years of a kind of political debate like we've never seen: one where candidates are asked real questions and the questions are followed up until they provide actual answers.

For this the entire staff has engaged in weeks of arduous preparation, with the "roles" of all the potential candidates assumed by individuals who have fanatically researched how their characters, based on what they've already said publiclyl, would respond to any question or follow-up that Will, as debate moderator can throw at them. And finally it comes time for the mock debate, presented in front of a pair of Republican Party operatives or consultants or whatever they are -- a seasoned veteran played by Adam Arkin, an old friend of Will's -- 25 years before, they shared this very fantasy of real debates about real issues designed to produce real candidates. The other is a standard-issue Republican young asshole (Jake McDorman), who is expecting a debate exactly like . . . well, exactly like the debates we actually got, and is outraged almost to the point of murder by this, this outrage of seeing the GOP candidates being forced to answer basic policy questions and being reduced to gibbering idiots.

The asshole Tate is so clueless about reality that he can only assume it's Will's ego gone wild, that it's his desire to humiliate "our candidates." By contrast, the Adam Arkin character, Adam Roth, points out that these are all questions that the candidates should be able to answer, and if they can't, then the fault is theirs. And of course this is information the public needs to know. Do you have to ask which of the two functionaries gets his way? Adam apologizes to Will, pointing out all the family obligations to which the money he's being paid have to go. Naturally Will understands.

The whole thing was so brilliantly done that it's easy to glide over the "romantic fantasy" element: first, that Will and the ACN news director, Charlie Skinner (Sam Waterston), could so lose touch with reality as to imagine that there's any chance that this version of a debate could be taken seriously by the party, and second, that the party might have a high-ranking functionary capable of understanding and defending the vision.

It's the sort of thing that Sorkin did all the time on West Wing: encourage us to indulge a few such fantasies, which really involve just a few utterly imaginable rearrangements of bits of reality, and then visualize the possibilities that follow from them. It's a heckuvan image to have in your head as you watch the candidacy of Willard Inc. unfold, or unravel, and then remembering that he was the class of that Republican field, which by rights should have been unimaginable.

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At 6:32 PM, Anonymous me said...

My vote is up for grabs. I think Obama has been awful, but I can't imagine voting for a scumpublican.

Yet if Romney convinced me that he would prosecute the banksters and war criminals from the Bush years, I'd consider him. But instead he yammers on about abortion and cutting taxes for rich cocksuckers like himself who already pay 13% and less.

And his idiotic comments on foreign policy hit me like fingernails on a blackboard.

To top it off, it's very clear that he and his minions plan a new war on pornography. Hey, I like my porn! Hands off my computer, asshole!

Now the stupid SOB calls me a welfare bum. I've worked all my life (paying a far higher percentage of my income in taxes than gazillionaire Mitt the Twit), and that prick says I'm standing around waiting for a government handout!

Jesus H. Christ! Or Joseph H. Smith, or whatever it is those magic-underpants folk say when they hear something outrageous.

I recently heard him described as a combination of Ebenezer Scrooge and Marie Antoinette. I quite agree, although he seems dumber than either of those two.

At 6:59 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...

But me, what would ever give you the idea there's any possibility that Willard might consider prosecuting the banksters and war criminals from the Bush years?

Those are his people! They're looking to him to put a stop to all this gov't persecution so they can really get down to business.


At 7:07 PM, Anonymous me said...

Yeah, I know. I'm just saying, if he DID do that, I'd consider voting for him. And that's probably the only thing that would make me consider it.

But as you say, he's 0.01% through and through, so my vote is still up for grabs.

Apparently no candidate wants it. I guess other people's votes are easier to get.

At 9:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just realized chairs are people too.

At 6:28 PM, Blogger KenInNY said...




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