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Can He Drive 55?


Posted by Bill Whalen
ABC’s The Note is reporting that Kerry’s speech will run 55 minutes. Yikes. He should trim it by 10 minutes. Lose a couple of policy nuggets.
Or maybe Heinz Foods also makes hemorrhoid pads.
Once again, we see the networks’ control over the big show. The Dems can get only one hour to put on a pretty face, so Kerry speaks for 55 minutes, plus a couple of minutes of b-roll of one happy unified political family under the balloon drop as, back on the East Coast, they cut to news at 11.

Way back in 1976, when sideburns were long and ties were wide, the networks devoted something on the order of 100 hours of coverage to the parties’ convention. This year, it’s three hours for roughly 28 hours of proceedings. Then again, the Republican convention was contested that year. But, more to the point, there weren’t viewing options. No alphabet-soup cable news networks, no EPSN or HBO, no VHS or DVD.
Personally, I’m a fan of this four-night, three-hour lid (though it hurts the Republicans, as it means less exposure for Ah-nuld if the big nets again blow off Tuesday night coverage – Tuesday’s his night to flex). For this convention, it’s imposed discipline on the speakers — one William Jefferson Clinton, in particular. The Big Guy had to get his message across in 25 minutes, which in his case is a new land speed record. Give the man another half-hour and he’d have droned on about what books he’s read, what’s cooking in Alice Waters’ kitchen, and so forth. Which is all good and swell if Bubba’s your dinner guest, but gawdawful if his job is to peddle his party and his candidate.
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Did you catch the retired military brass on the stage last night, before Edwards’ speech? The Dems love this concept, as inoculation. Back in 1992, they trotted out William Crowe, the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to give Clinton-Gore a boost. This is a great idea, with one hitch: out of uniform you couldn’t tell if they were flag officers, aging Rotarians, or a Propecia test group.
A better alternative, and keeping with the theme of things: I’d have ditched the officers and instead made it a tribute to Marlon Brando. Vietnam hangs heavy over this convention, and he’s the man who played Colonel Kurtz. Instead of the ex-officers, fill the stage with liberals who’ve starred in Vietnam flicks. It’d look something like this: Michael J. Fox and Sean Penn (“Casualties of War”); Robert DeNiro and Christopher Walken (”The Deer Hunter); Matthew Modine (“Full Metal Jacket”); Robin Williams (“Good Morning Vietnam); Dennis Hopper (“Apocalypse Now”); Jon Voigt and Jane Fonda (“Coming Home); Martin and Charlie Sheen (“Apocalypse Now” and “Platoon”). With direction by Oliver Stone.
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Apparently not content to drive conservatives nuts with Tuesday night’s stem-cell stemwinder, Ronald P. Reagan (like Bush 43, he’s not a “Junior”) is about to come out in Esquire with a first-person Bush-bashing diatribe. This isn’t breaking news, given that it was first announced back in January at the Sundance Film Festival What is remarkable is the vigor with which young Reagan is cashing in on this persona as political free spirit.
Then again, why be so surprised? And why be so angry? We are a chameleon culture. David Brock once was stuffy and conservative. Now he promotes himself as gay and anti-right. Arianna Huffington (who’s been oddly silent about Te-re-sa’s taxes and John Edwards’ S corporation) changes political personae every five years or so. Anna Nicole Smith gains and sheds 80 pounds and profits either way. Let young Ron have his 15 minutes. (Personally, I think Rodney Dangerfield said it best in “Caddyshack”: “Now I know why tigers eat their young”).
Note to Republicans: fight fire with fire. If the idea to use a political black sheep with a famous last name to embarrass the opposition, all you have to do is hire Roger Clinton to sing at the Republican National Convention.

Share  Posted by Chris Nolan at 10:41 AM | Permalink

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