Some—even in the Republican party—are saying that a serious presidential aspirant doesn’t pontificate about American Idol, as Palin does in her new book, or star in her own reality show, as Palin is doing on TLC. That’s wrong. More people care about American Idol in this country than care about the deficit, the war in Afghanistan, and health care put together. The more others put Palin down as trivial, the more she’ll turn that to her advantage as caring about the things ordinary people care about. And the people will say yes, she’s one of us. And then they’ll say, maybe it wouldn’t be so bad if one of us were president.
Remember, she doesn’t have to get there in one leap. There are steps along the way. All she has to do first is appeal to more Republican caucus members in the Iowa primary. (That doesn’t seem so unthinkable.) Then, on the momentum of that, win a few more primaries. Suddenly, she’s the Republican candidate for president in 2012. And suddenly, you have a whole lot of people—even some who are reasonable, and even some who voted for Obama in 2008—saying to themselves, “You know, Obama is unquestionably a brilliant man, but we’ve now tried the brilliance thing, and we still don’t have enough jobs, and I still can’t sell my house. Maybe it’s time for less brilliance and more gut instinct.” Next, she’s raising her right hand on the Capitol steps.
Bob Cesca at the Huffington Post sees the danger, and has written about the prospect at greater length. I recommend the piece.
In Illinois, our campaign commercials consist of the Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate calling the Republican candidate a liar, while the Republican candidate calls the Democratic candidate a thief; and the Republican candidate for governor calling the Democratic incumbent a failure, while the Democratic incumbent calls the Republican candidate a tax cheat.
These commercials make you long for, and visualize, the commercial you’d really rather see: a commercial in which the candidate says something positive about him or herself instead of tearing down the opponent; a commercial in which the candidate gives you a reason to vote for him instead of against someone else; a commercial in which, unmediated by editing, noise or graphics, the candidate trusts herself and you enough to present herself directly to you, one-on-one, for thirty seconds.
That campaign commercial, the one I’d really like to see but had given up hope of ever seeing, has been done, by Christine O’Donnell, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate from Delaware. And brilliantly.
I wish her opponent had done it, but she did it.
It’s hard for me to reconcile the sensible-sounding, likable human being I see in this commercial with the batshit crazy extremist I’ve been reading about and seeing video bites of. And I’m not saying I trust the commercial more than I do those sources of information. But I am saying that in the simplicity of its single-long-take genuineness the commercial does a superb job of countering those sources. It opens with a disarming four words, and closes with a smashing themeline that takes the positive message she wants voters to receive and distills it to two words.
It’s the discourse-elevating political commercial I’ve been hoping someone would do. Just not her. But that’s the way it is.