Digby's Hullabaloo
2801 Ocean Park Blvd.
Box 157
Santa Monica, Ca 90405

Facebook: Digby Parton

@BloggersRUs (Tom Sullivan)

thedigbyblog at gmail
satniteflix at gmail
publius.gaius at gmail
tpostsully at gmail
Spockosbrain at gmail
Richardein at me.com


Mother Jones
Raw Story
Huffington Post
Crooks and Liars
American Prospect
New Republic

Denofcinema.com: Saturday Night at the Movies by Dennis Hartley review archive

January 2003 February 2003 March 2003 April 2003 May 2003 June 2003 July 2003 August 2003 September 2003 October 2003 November 2003 December 2003 January 2004 February 2004 March 2004 April 2004 May 2004 June 2004 July 2004 August 2004 September 2004 October 2004 November 2004 December 2004 January 2005 February 2005 March 2005 April 2005 May 2005 June 2005 July 2005 August 2005 September 2005 October 2005 November 2005 December 2005 January 2006 February 2006 March 2006 April 2006 May 2006 June 2006 July 2006 August 2006 September 2006 October 2006 November 2006 December 2006 January 2007 February 2007 March 2007 April 2007 May 2007 June 2007 July 2007 August 2007 September 2007 October 2007 November 2007 December 2007 January 2008 February 2008 March 2008 April 2008 May 2008 June 2008 July 2008 August 2008 September 2008 October 2008 November 2008 December 2008 January 2009 February 2009 March 2009 April 2009 May 2009 June 2009 July 2009 August 2009 September 2009 October 2009 November 2009 December 2009 January 2010 February 2010 March 2010 April 2010 May 2010 June 2010 July 2010 August 2010 September 2010 October 2010 November 2010 December 2010 January 2011 February 2011 March 2011 April 2011 May 2011 June 2011 July 2011 August 2011 September 2011 October 2011 November 2011 December 2011 January 2012 February 2012 March 2012 April 2012 May 2012 June 2012 July 2012 August 2012 September 2012 October 2012 November 2012 December 2012 January 2013 February 2013 March 2013 April 2013 May 2013 June 2013 July 2013 August 2013 September 2013 October 2013 November 2013 December 2013 January 2014 February 2014 March 2014 April 2014 May 2014 June 2014 July 2014 August 2014 September 2014 October 2014 November 2014 December 2014 January 2015 February 2015 March 2015 April 2015 May 2015 June 2015 July 2015 August 2015 September 2015 October 2015 November 2015 December 2015 January 2016 February 2016 March 2016 April 2016 May 2016 June 2016 July 2016 August 2016 September 2016 October 2016 November 2016 December 2016 January 2017 February 2017 March 2017 April 2017 May 2017 June 2017 July 2017 August 2017 September 2017 October 2017 November 2017 December 2017 January 2018 February 2018 March 2018 April 2018 May 2018 June 2018 July 2018 August 2018 September 2018 October 2018 November 2018 December 2018 January 2019


This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?


Sunday, October 12, 2003

Can You Blame Me?

Matt thinks I'm a tad cynical. (Not that there's anything wrong with that...)

Maybe, but I'm not the only one. Read this by Todd Gitlin.

... with the respect Americans have long paid to the most efficient hucksters, since P. T. Barnum, they admire him [Schwarzenegger] for the style with which he pulls the wool over their eyes.

For all that his supporters may think they've outfoxed politics as usual, Schwarzenegger is "smart" the way any conventional politician is "smart": About his positions, he's said next to nothing. California has snookered itself, thinking it's defeated politics as usual. What it's done is ditch a blah celebrity in favor of a wow celebrity.

And so, once again, the Democrats reaped the bitter harvest of their own pallor and incompetence. As governor, Davis droned. As lieutenant governor, Cruz Bustamante droned. As campaigners, they droned. Neither shone. Neither made himself lovable. They gave lousy spectacle. In a world of stargazers, they were third-magnitude stars. And so they discredited politics.

Thus did the self-made demagogue spin implausibility into victory. Give him this: He struck a blow at dreariness. He pulverized doubt. He proved himself the king of demolition as self-help. Life's a movie, after all. Don't like the government? Go out and blow up some stuff. Nothing is real.

Just remember, it isn't only a "California problem." It's a national problem. And, it ain't going away.

[Schwarzenegger] campaign officials
now concede, preparations for his candidacy and especially for the remarkably successful strategy he would follow -- avoiding the traditional press and going straight to the entertainment media with vague messages and movie-style sound bites -- were laid as early as June, when they conducted a series of highly revealing focus groups.

The groups, put together in San Francisco and the conservative San Fernando Valley, almost unanimously described Gov. Gray Davis as indecisive, remote and beholden to special interests. Schwarzenegger was seen in a much more positive light; the participants were generally aware of the actor's involvement with the Special Olympics and after school programs in California. They also expressed less interest in policies and more in "leadership" when asked what it took to govern.

The focus group findings gave birth to one of the most audacious media campaigns ever waged, in which the candidate made an end run around the establishment media -- newspapers and the more serious television news shows -- and used talk radio, entertainment shows and televised daily events to sell himself to "viewers" (as voters became known to some inside the Schwarzenegger campaign). He presented himself as an outsider who, though light on detailed policies, was decisive, optimistic and forward-looking.


The most important element to me was striking the balance between policy Arnold and celebrity Arnold," said Dan Schnur, a Republican consultant who worked on Peter Ueberroth's short-lived campaign. "Schwarzenegger made people comfortable with the idea that he could govern. The lesson is that substance matters, or at least the appearance of substance."

In fact, Schwarzenegger sat down for more lengthy interviews with print journalists than critics believe, said Walsh -- 13 in 9 weeks.

But many of the articles that appeared seemed to have been influenced by the television coverage, a number of experts said, with much of the emphasis placed on Schwarzenegger's appearance and manner, rather than his comments on policy matters.

"What we were witnessing was a highly evolved version of a tendency already in place," said Schell. "The power of the entertainment media eclipsed the serious media. Nobody seemed to notice."

How about this:

David Gergen, director of the Center for Public Leadership at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, noted: "We sometimes don't like to admit it, but acting is part of political leadership. Franklin Roosevelt once told Orson Welles that they were the two best actors in the country." He said that Mr. Schwarzenegger "has a window to do things that few others would have, but it'll close fast."


Mr. Reagan was a consummate pragmatist, but he was guided by fixed views. It is not yet clear whether Mr. Schwarzenegger is, too, but he has so far pursued his career goals single-mindedly, while reinventing himself periodically.

When asked, before he ran for office, what kind of governor he would be, Mr. Reagan famously answered: "I don't know. I've never played a governor before."

By the end of his presidency, he would confess there had been times when he "wondered how you could do the job if you hadn't been an actor."

Or (save me) how about this:

The 20-year-old voted for the first time because "this year it seems like your vote counts."

She went with the recall and was leaning toward Schwarzenegger "because he wasn't a politician," she said. "And I also really liked his wife."

But at the last moment, Richardson switched her vote to Green Party candidate Peter Camejo.

Now maybe we can completely change American politics in the next 12 months by running a sincere and earnest campaign based upon the issues and good old fashioned grassroots campaigning. But after last week, I am more convinced than ever that we will lose huge if we try that.

I admit that I'm cynical about how the process works these days. But, I also think I'm realistic. I'd like the Democrats to wise up and save this country from the radical right wing that holds all institutional pwoer in the federal government right now. And that will not happen by spending the next year deluding ourselves that the people in this country vote on the basis of 12 point plans and "Dingell-Norwood" bills.

Most people think that politics is an interactive reality TV show. We'd better be prepared to put on a good show.