Whether it’s politics, sports or show business, the media basically knows three stories: They great! They’re done! They’re back! And during an election cycle we’re fed all three. Over and over. Until we gag.
First it’s the initial hype. Discovering a star, and heralding him or her as the next Messiah. The greatest new thing the world has ever seen! They’re in the papers! They’re on Oprah! They’re everywhere and we love them so! Remember Obamamania? “He’s new. He’s smart. He’s photo-licious and tele-lovable. The It-guy.”
But wait… He’s played out. He burned brightly then fizzled. His freshness a momentary delight, like a dessert snuck before dinner, but not a well-rounded meal. Cute. Smart. But can’t win. Because once built up, we shoot for the tear down. Like a child with building blocks. That’s the next story. The over-hyped phenom. The public meltdown. The rebel yell. The illicit affair. The plagiarized story. The DUI. The string of box office flops. We like the cocky upstart, rising from humble beginnings. Then the moment they begin to enjoy their new status, we need to kneecap them back to humility. Maybe we get bored easily. Or always need a new thrill. Or we’re fickle and stupid because we’re fed a steady diet of media hype and surface bullshit instead of actual substance. Like with movie stars. Or candidates.
Remember Hillary The Frontrunner? The shoo-in “experience” candidate? Problem is she became a shoo-in too early and tried to keep her lead with a rope-a-dope strategy. Don’t say anything right. Just don’t say anything wrong. But say it with conviction. Or at least try to without speech-ifying. Which she did. Like she was channeling FDR. But maybe it didn’t matter, because we get bored with winners if we have to spend too much time being told they’re winners before the contest. Like a horserace, when one horse pulls away from the pack, all we want is for some also-ran to come charging on the outside.
That’s the third story: the comeback. The Phoenix-like rise from the ashes. We love our comebacks.
They’re our way of re-loving the winners who lost, but it’s ok ‘cause they’re now winners again. Hillary’s no longer the frontrunner because Obama surged from the outside. Even though he was deemed someone who couldn’t win, now that he’s taken Iowa he’s polling like someone who could win. Because he did win. Which makes him a winner. And we like winners. We’ll vote for winners to win and believe they can win. But only once they’ve won. As long as they don’t act like winners for too long. But before they melt down. It’s a narrow window.
So now Hillary has to be remade into a winner, via the new magic word: “change.” In a world that wants “change,” “experience” looks out of touch. Frankly, if she were going to change anything, I’d vote for the pantsuits. Is there no other outfit for a powerful, intelligent woman other than the pantsuit or the Margaret Thatcher tweed? Maybe a Sari. Indira Gandhi pulled it off. Either way, the tactic is to repeat the word “change” over and over with the additional mention of “young people.” Obviously, the electorate is so dumb that if you simply take a bright, shiny word like “change” and wave it in front of young people’s faces long enough, they will eventually fall under your sway. Still, it sounds odd when she talks about her history of “making change.” Like she worked the counter at the 99 Cents store.
But with all the change and experience and poll leaders and surges, for me it still boils down to one simple fact: The Republicans are the party of Satan and must be defeated at all costs or the world will blow up. Personally I don’t trust anyone who wakes up in the morning with enough of an ego-woody to think they deserve to be President, but if it’s Obama--fine. I like him. If he isn’t the brightest, classiest, most sincere, compassionate candidate to come down the road in 16 years, he’s doing the damnedest impression of one I’ve ever seen. He speaks, and actually says things. And seems to understand and care about the things he says. Hillary’s got experience. So did Biden, Richardson, and Dodd. And they had actual experience instead of declared experience. Just no momentum or charisma.
Still, given that Obama’s surging, Hillary could still make a comeback if we get bored with his surge and begin to feel more safe with the experience thing than the change thing. Although if she did re-surge, there might still be time to get sick of her experience and re-desire change, at which point Edwards may surge ahead as the new, young, intelligent guy with the real experience to facilitate change. Or maybe aliens will land and pick someone, in which case, next January Kucinich will be on an apple box in D.C. taking the oath of office. Which wouldn’t be the worst thing.