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Campaign of Gimmicks: A Made-for-TV Movie

September 28th, 2008

First there was the selection of a beauty queen-turned-governor as a vice-presidential running mate. Then we had the shutting down of the convention, if only for a day. Then Palin had to go silent while she saw off her son to Iraq. Then there was the “suspension” of the McCain campaign to become the supposed hero of the bailout. And now, there are rumors that the Bristol Palin quasi-shotgun wedding is going to become a central campaign event, possibly taking time away from Sarah Palin’s availability to the press. The McCain campaign has turned into a gimmick train, trying to win the public over with a series of outrageous PR stunts, each one outdoing the last.

The media, of course, loves this, and that’s probably a major reason why McCain is resorting to stunts like this. Manipulating the media, giving them razzle-dazzle to sell ads, that’s central to the McCain campaign. Which is why I am not totally discounting the whole wedding event thing–it sounds exactly like the kind of thing they’d do.

Interestingly, there are some parallels in fiction; in the movie The Birdcage, a right-wing politician tries to revitalize his campaign marred by scandal by using his daughter’s wedding as a centerpiece of his public relations.

I am also reminded of a book by Neal Stephenson called Interface, in which a politician given a microchip implant in his brain is swept into office via a campaign of surprise gimmicks slickly engineered by a power broker using the politician as a front. The coincidences in the book become creepy when you remember that the guy’s vice-presidential candidate, Eleanor Richmond, was a working-class mother swept into politics after showing down a corrupt politician, and she becomes president after the candidate wins the election and dies. The coincidences end there, however–in the book, the woman is a person of honor and conscience, not even close to Sarah Palin.

John McCain is slowly–no, make that quickly turning this campaign into a fictional melodrama. All we need now is product placement; everything else relevant to fictional storytelling and movie promotion & distribution is in place and running.

Update: The following mock movie trailer would be a hell of a lot funnier if it weren’t so potentially close to reality:

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  1. Tim Kane
    September 28th, 2008 at 20:38 | #1

    I hope that the wedding is the extant of McCain’s October Surprise. All things considered, like starting a new war, or staging a terrorist event, that would be fine.

    I am starting to think that the bulk of both media and the public are beginning to see through the menagerie.

  2. Brad
    October 4th, 2008 at 20:57 | #2

    Oh dear, I shouldn’t have chuckled like that. Very funny. To an Australian. :-)

    At first.

  3. fargo mike
    October 25th, 2008 at 00:31 | #3

    I have too many similariteis to McCain-Palin campagin and Stephenson’s Interface (Constanza/Richmond). Been trying to tell people about the book. Glad some one else recognizes it too.

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