Archive for the ‘Campaign Poetry’ Category

Tim Pawlenty: Channeling American patriotism, exceptionalism, and optimism

January 27, 2011

A few cherry-picked snap shots from former Minnesota Governor Tim Pawlenty’s “Courage to Stand” web ad.

As The New York Times points out:

There is not a single awe-inspiring, patriotic image that is left out.

But there’s no puppy in there. See the Jerry Bruckenheimer/James Cameronesque clip here, and let me know what you think.

Campaign Poetry: Bill Clinton learns how to deal with questions about his faith

October 11, 2010

As I traveled the state, I had to contend with the rise of a new political force, the Moral Majority, founded by the Reverend Jerry Falwell, a conservative Baptist minister from Virginia who had won a large television following and was using it to build a national organization committee to Christian fundamentalism and right-wing politics.

In any part of the state, I might find myself shaking hands with someone who would ask if I was a Christian. When I said yes, there would be several more questions, apparently supplied by Falwell’s organization. Once when I was campaigning in Conway, about thirty miles east of Little Rock, I was in the county clerk’s office, where absentee ballots are cast. One of the women who worked there started in on me with the questions. Apparently, I gave the wrong answer to one of them, and before I left the courthouse she had cost me four votes. I didn’t know what to do. I wasn’t about to answer a question about religion falsely, but I didn’t want to keep losing votes. I called Senator Bumpers, a good liberal Methodist, for advice. “Oh, I get that all the time,” he said. “But I never let them get past the first question. When they ask me if I’m Christian, I say, ‘I sure hope so, and I’ve always tried to be. But I really think that’s a question only God can judge.’ That usually shuts the up.” After Bumpers finished, I laughed and told him now I knew why he was a senator and I was just a candidate for attorney general. And for the rest of the campaign, I used his answer.

Bill  Clinton – My Life (p. 239-240).

Campaign Poetry: Only half a Norwegian

September 9, 2010

Scene from a Hubert Humphrey town hall in rural Wisconsin during the presidential primaries in April 1960:

I still have my cup of coffee here. After all, I got a couple of Norwegians over here you see, and since I’m only half a Norwegian they only gave me half of a cup and I wanted to finnish it off.

Anyway, when you’re out speaking, as I have been, why once in a while a good cup of coffee sorta braces you up for the next meeting.

Now gentlemen, I am one of the candidates in your Wisconsin presidential primary race. We’re going to have an election here on Tuesday, April the 5th.

Now this election is off course a very important one in terms of your state.

Now my friends, during my service in the United States Senate for twelve years, I have given more time, more attention, to matters of agriculture than any other one subject.

Now Senator Humphrey is not out here just to please you, by these comments. I say that Wisconsin have lost hundreds of millions of dollars of sales. I say that the business men of Wisconsin have lost hundreds of millions of dollars worth of business because of reduced farm income.

And I charge here that not a single candidate in this primary election has paid any attention to the farmer at all, except Hubert Humphrey…

Instead of you reading about who you wanna have as president in Life Magazine, you ougtha take a good look at him in the flesh. You oughta hear what they have got to say. Because let me tell you what: Life, Time, Fortune, Look, and Newsweek don’t give a hoot about you here in this place.

And I know, they laugh at ya. I’ve been down to their editorial boards, some of them, and I’ll tell you they have no more appreciation of a farmers problem than they have of what’s going on on the other side of the moon. Thankfully they don’t know the difference between a corn cob and a ukulele.

I can tell you that my votes aren’t very popular sometimes in New York City, or Boston. … When I read the editorials; The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, … they say that the farmers’ being subsidized, and they look at Hubert Humphrey’s record and they say ’well this fellow, this Humphrey he’s just the Midwest, he’s just for those farmers. That’s what they say. They’re right. I am.

Transcribed from Robert Drew’s must-see documentary “Primary” (1960).

The Gist of Vanity Fair’s “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”

September 7, 2010

THE GIST of Michael Joseph Gross’ controversial Vanity Fair-article “Sarah Palin: The Sound and the Fury”:

One of the people.

“People who admire her believe she is just like them, and this conviction seems to satisfy their curiosity about the objective facts of her life. Those whose curiosity has not been satisfied have their work cut out for them.”

2012 presidential hopeful.

“Last July, the quarterly filing by Palin’s political-action committee, SarahPAC, revealed a formidable war chest and hefty investments in fund-raising and direct mail, the clearest signs yet that she may indeed run for president. Republican leaders privately dismiss her as too unpredictable and too undisciplined to run a serious campaign. But on she flies, carpet-bombing the 24-hour news cycle.”

Versatile public voice.

“Palin’s public voice is an instrument of great versatility. In a few moments, she can turn from kind to hateful, rational to unhinged. At her best Palin can be folksy and pungent. But she needs outside help to give her voice its national range.”

Identity politics.

“Falsehoods never damage Palin’s credibility with her admirers, because information and ideology are incidental to this relationship. Palin owes her power to identity politics, pitched with moralistic topspin. She exploits the same populist impulse that fueled the career of William Jennings Bryan—an impulse described by one Bryan biographer as ‘the yearning for a society run by and for ordinary people who lead virtuous lives.'”

Dog-whistle Christianity.

“Whenever I heard Palin speak on the road, her remarks were scored with code phrases expressing solidarity with fundamentalist Christians. … But it is Palin’s persistent encouragement of the prayer warriors that most clearly reveals her worldview: she is good, her opponents are evil, and the war is on.”

In public vs. In private

“Warm and effusive in public, indifferent or angry in private: this is the pattern of Palin’s behavior toward the people who make her life possible.”

Moose chili.

“‘This whole hunter thing, for Sarah? That is the biggest fallacy,’ says one longtime friend of the family. ‘That woman has never hunted. The picture of her with the caribou she says she shot? She got out of the R.V. to pose for a picture. She never helps with the fishing either. It’s all a joke.’ The friend goes on to recall that when Greta Van Susteren came to the house to interview Palin ‘[Sarah] cooked moose chili and whatnot. Todd was calling everyone he knew the day before—‘Do you got any moose?’ Desperate.'”


“Palin is on track to earn well over $3 million in speaking fees for events this year.”

Campaign Poetry: Lined up at the urinals

May 19, 2010

“The candidates lined up at the urinals, Giuliani next to McCain next to Huckabee, the rest all in a row. The debate was soon to start, so they were taking care of business – and laughing merrily at the one guy who wasn’t there. Poking fun at him, mocking him, agreeing how much they disliked him. Then Willard Mitt Romney walked into the bathroom and overheard them, bringing on a crashing silence.”

John Heilemann & Mark Halperin – Game Change. Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (p. 293).

Campaign Poetry: Begging to be lied to

May 14, 2010

Following a tough primary campaign against the pro-life Reverend Butler, The West Wing‘s fictional Republican presidential nominee Arnold Vinick (played by actor Alan Alda) was posed the following question during a news conference [1]: “Senator, are you going to reconsider Reverend Butler’s invitation to his church this weekend?”

Vinick responded:

I fully respect Reverend Butler’s position. I mean – I appreciate his invitation. And, ah… Look, … I respect the Reverend Butler, and I respect his Church too much to use it for my own political purposes, and that’s exactly what I’d be doing if I went down there this Sunday – cause the truth is it would just be an act of political phoniness. I may be wrong, but I – I suspect our churches already have enough political phonies.

I don’t see how we can have the separation of church and state in this government if you have to pass a religious test, to get in this government. And I wanna warn everyone in the press and all the voters out there: if you demand expressions of religious faith from politicians, you are just begging to be lied to. They won’t all lie to you, but a lot of them will. And it will be the easiest lie they ever have to tell to get your votes. So every day until the end of this campaign, I’ll answer any question anyone has on government, but if you, if you have a question on religion – please, go to church.

[1] The West Wing, Season 6, Episode 20: “In God We Trust” [41:27-42:45] (transcribed by yours truly, January 26, 2010).

Campaign Poetry: I found my own voice

May 12, 2010

“Racing out of the hotel, they sped to Manchester for Hillary’s victory speech. ‘I came tonight with a very, very full heart,’ she began. ‘Over the last week I listened to you, and in the process, I found my own voice.’

When it was over, Hillary marched down a hallway backstage, with her husband and Chelsea at her side. She looked like a quarterback who’s just completed a last-second Hail Mary pass in overtime – pointing at her aides, high-fiving them, smiling from ear to ear. ‘This is amazing,’ one of them said. ‘I’m so proud of you! You did this! You did this!’

Hillary nodded and puffed out her chest.

‘I get really tough when people fuck with me,’ she said.”

John Heilemann & Mark Halperin – Game Change. Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime (p. 190).

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