Monday, December 27, 2010

Video Gives the GOP a Virus

I just flipped through a copy of FreedomWorks’ Rules for Patriots. Rule 9 is devoted to explaining “strategies” for the average citizen to make an impact on the political process. Along with encouraging the use of Facebook, Twitter, and blogging, Matt Kibbe, the organization’s President and CEO, explains the importance of YouTube: “Video has become the most powerful medium in the online world… You can start your own YouTube account for free… Having [various clips available] can prove invaluable.” It seems that a key strategy for American patriots is using video to their advantage. FreedomWorks, by the way, has been cited as one of the major organizing force behind the TEA Party movement.

The TEA Party has its share of critics on the right. Karl Rove, for instance, has termed the grass-roots organization “unsophisticated.” The guy who was termed “The Brain Behind Bush” seems to have a yen for criticizing the uncouth among us which is odd, considering he had no problem with the casual “middle country, middle class” drawl that he directed for 8 years. Rove has also criticized one of the TEA Party’s major spokespeople, Sarah Palin, for creating her own reality show with TLC: “With all due candour, appearing on your own reality show on the Discovery Channel, I am not certain how that fits in the American calculus of 'that helps me see you in the Oval Office’.” I guess the Republican strategist was not a big fan of Bedtime for Bonzo.

The fact that Sarah Palin has her own reality TV show freaks people out. It freaks out the left because they now have indisputable ratings that prove how likeable the former Alaskan Governor really is. It freaks out the right because they can’t imagine how anyone would take a reality TV star as a serious Presidential candidate. After all, if the CEO of the WWE can’t win Connecticut, there must be no hope!  Both sides can’t stop obsessing over the idea that Palin’s reality show is nothing more than a bid for the Presidency in 2012.

Oddly enough, right-wingers feel the same way about Chris Christie’s YouTube channel. Only, in the case of the bombastic Jersey Governor, this video stardom is a good thing. One former Governor interacting with average citizens where they work negates them from the Presidency, while another current Governor telling voters to quit their jobs translates into prime candidate material.

Republicans are fools.

The Liberals have a right to be scared of Sarah Palin’s TV presence. They know the last great conservative leader was nothing more than an actor—a registered Democrat, mind you—who encountered one man’s true story of Communism and “saw the light,” going from B-movie career to a political powerhouse that helped shape an entire American generation. Liberals may be socialists, but they are not stupid. If they did not see a formidable challenge in Palin, they would not be spending so much time trying to eviscerate her.

The right-wingers, the Republicans, the Conservatives on the other hand, from the establishment rovers to the average voters, are playing right into the Liberals’ hand. “Oh, Palin has to sit this one out,” I’ve heard. “That job has to be handled by a man,” is another familiar complaint. “She quit her job as Governor to be a TV star,” is another familiar one. Worst of all is the complaint voiced by many but worded exceptionally by Charles Krauthammer, that “the outside activities” the Governor is engaged in would not help her if she decides to go for a Presidential run.

“I told Alaskans I was going to do all that I could to promote Alaska,” Palin responded to Krauthammer’s criticism in a recent interview with Bill O’Reilly. The show, it seems, has little to do with promoting Palin and much to do with promoting our “domestic resources that can be tapped into” that would allow America to be “healthier, more secure, and more prosperous.” In other words, it is as if Sarah Palin is using video to illustrate the value of American Exceptionalism not only as an ideology, but as a strategy to improve the economy and national security.

Well, Chris Christie has used the power of video to tell a lot of teachers they could just find new jobs. I think that sounds a lot more Presidential, don’t you? It must be because he’s a man. I mean, if a female politician told the media they were “thin skinned” and followed that with,“you should really see me when I’m pissed,” she’d probably be accused of “not being ladylike.”

Oddly enough, Karl Rove was reportedly the one who put a bug in Chris Christie’s ear regarding a possible gubernatorial bid. I wonder if Rove was also the architect behind the Governor’s oh so sophisticated in-your-face strategy.

Christie has outright denied that he will put a bid in for 2012, leaving many right wing supporters out in the cold. Palin has only commented that if she felt she were the right person, she would put her hat in the ring. Already, the alarm bells are sounding. Sarah’s list of right-wing critics is a mile long. In the meantime, Christie’s supporters are inviting him into Congressional strategy sessions. This fall, while bill S1872, the Governor’s “stepping stone to school vouchers,” sat dying in committee, Christie was out campaigning for Republican candidates across the country (perhaps expecting his new Democrat teacher-turned-Clinton lawyer-turned Education Chief to take up the cause?); Palin resigns as Governor to avoid the encroachment of her personal life onto her public office, and she's deemed simply unfit for the job.

Video is a powerful tool in today’s political dialogue, but change is still a matter of personal choice. As long as right wingers choose style over substance the only kind of sophistication they’re looking to put in the White House equates to Tony Soprano in a RINO suit.

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