Wednesday, June 09, 2004

The American Candidate Showtime Sham:

RJ Cutler's Clueless "First Test" gets an "F."

Looks like Cutler's whole idea of the Keene New Hampshire episode of his American Candidate as one-on-one, hand-shaking, baby-kissing, press-the-flesh "RETAIL POLITICS" got lost on the way to Keene.
So, your last minute planning for Keene was a mess,
And even Keene's Mayor was getting distressed.
When you film on the cheap and your management's weak …

Hmm, sounds like the beginning of a fun little
American Candidate Showtime limerick.
But then I'd have to change the Mayor's
comments to the Keene Sentinel to make
them fit, and they're just too good to pass up.

By now, no doubt, Keene residents have
read the news and discovered AmCan's
opening kick-off rallies took place last
night instead of in Keene. Candidates may
still be going through the usual motions
of shaking hands and kissing babies that
Keene residents know so well, but it may
seem like some of the magic's been lost
by then. After all, at least half of
the contestants are old hands at this
kind of thing. Not the fresh political
hopefuls still outside the system, not
the ones who can suddenly shift our jaded
views by granting us a glimpse of how
the world might look if opportunity
could be shifted to those who haven't
already played the game.

And if the communication process at AmCan
is holding true to form, Keene found out
through the press, not AmCan.

Even e-mail, the quick and dirty common
courtesy of our day seems too much for
American Candidate to manage. Wonder
if the poor producers know that Yahoo is
free? But I digress …

Back in Keene, Rebecca Waddingham from the
Keene Sentinel staff reported last Friday that
American Candidate producers were confused. One
who asked not to be named "couldn't speculate
about the format of the show,"
because "it's not
clear how the candidates will be voted off."

And the Mayor? The one waiting patiently
while American Candidate's producers
tried to decide this week where they could
hold their rally for as little cash as possible?
When "asked if the logistics and planning
seemed last minute,"
he replied, "The whole
deal is kind of last minute, isn't it?"

You betcha sir, but it seems RJ Cutler has
a cost cutting plan. It doesn't involve any
viewer voting per se, but it will help him out.

Filming and following candidates, even fake
candidates, costs money. At least $1,000
a week for each American Candidate and
his or her campaign manager. Then there's
plane tickets, hotel rooms (they're sharing
to cut corners), food, and all those other
extra costs for life on the road campaigning.

If Showtime and Cutler don't want to pony up
$12,000 for Keene to close the streets, and
provide police and other services, imagine
how important it is that Cutler quickly cuts
his costs by three or four thousand bucks.

So what does he do? He eliminates two,
on the fly with a sham, before costs can accrue.

Oooh, this rhyming thing could be addictive!

Showtime's "groundbreaking" "American Candidate
is once again covering the same old
ground and giving viewers the same old political
"ground amendments." IE: Bullshit.

Now I know, you're thinking Wait a minute.
Lisa Witter's campaign manager Dean Nielsen,
who's the Washington state director for Progressive
Majority says "I've been involved in political
Campaigns full-time for the past 10 years and, so
far, what they've asked us to do has been exactly
like a real campaign."

Exactly. Let's think about this a bit more.

Candidates had one day's notice and only $100
to spend to hold a rally. The two candidates
with the lowest turnout will be eliminated.

What's the object here?

A body count.
NOT the Power
of the candidate's speech
or message.

As Keith Boykin announced on his website,
"The producers of the show will count attendees
based on the number of people who pass through
the entrance between exactly 6-7 p.m., so come
even if you can only stay for a minute (literally).


That "literally" and emphasis at the end is Keith's,
not mine.

So let's recap. What's the first "groundbreaking"
and "unprecedented!" (Showtime's favorite words
to hype American Candidate) challenge "designed
to test their presidential mettle,"
and "find an
unknown leader from the ranks of ordinary citizens
who could catapult to national prominence and
demonstrate that he or she possesses the leadership capabilities and talent to be President"

How many warm bodies a candidate can get to pass through the doors on short notice.
No need to worry about the message,
or whether the candidate can inspire or
evoke passions.
It's the count that counts.

Ms. Gephardt, ever the lady, declined to capitalize on cold bodies, telling reporters "I mean, I'm making my announcement, I'm not really going to be campaigning," and "Part of the thing is that my schedule is dictated by Showtime. I probably would have refrained from campaigning if it were up to me. I have the utmost respect for Ronald Reagan and his presidency."

Not to worry though, it didn't hurt her chances
since her announcement was publicized around
the globe, she was able to use the Phoenix Park
Hotel near Capitol Hill for her rally, and she even
got her famous, former presidential candidate, and
possible VP father to attend, as well as reporters
from the Washington Post and CNN.

But that's the mettle of an "unknown leader from
the ranks of ordinary citizens"
who needs help
from Showtime's American Candidate to "catapult
to national prominence"
for you. Good for you
Chrissy! It must have been a real challenge for
you to get the Phoenix Park Hotel where your
father announced his run and gather people on
such short notice!

Now who do you think had the advantage in
this first test of American Candidate that Cutler,
according to the LA Times, hopes will
"encourage nonpros to run," and "help break
down financial and media-related barriers to
seeking office"

Hmmm … could it possibly be the pros
Cutler handpicked? The ones with clout and
connections who ALREADY HAVE NO
"media-related barriers to seeking office" and
can get a great rally location for free because
of their clout and their politically connected
rolodexes and blackberries? The ones who
can draw a crowd already because they're
anything but obscure and had media cranking
pr machines at their service already?

Is it clear to you now that cash is king?
And those without clout won't have a thing?
That cutting candidates with a sham test pays,
and leaves the pros with more room to play?

I know, some of you are thinking, Wait a
again, and Maybe the reason
they've got all that is because they've got
that Abe Lincoln quality Cutler said he was
looking for, that "vision" he said he's trying
to find that "could turn on the public in an
exciting way."
Those "new and diverse ideas"
American Candidate said it wanted.

Oh really?

Is that why only the body count mattered,
And not a VOTE from those in attendance?

Is that why the audience only needed to
Show up and NOT INTERACT?

As for the vision, I took a look,
And it looks like Cutler's goose is cooked.
The show's as new as day old bread,
stale for the stuffing in talking heads.
Proof's not in the pudding, 'cause there is none
The pols aren't sweet, they're just plain drear.

And, no, I ain't done yet, but for those
who'd like to know …

One reporter noted "Witter's speech conjured
images of a typical political speech."

Another quoted Freidrich as saying, "I want to
Be president of the United States because the
current candidates do not represent the interests
of the American People,"
and "Americans want
security in education, security in health care and
security in old age."

A member of Boykin's audience opined, "The speech
was generic liberal, emphasizing inclusion, domestic
programs, harmony, and equal opportunity. He steered clear of any policy proposals or strong positions on any divisive issues."

And Gephardt? She says she's in the game "to promote universal healthcare, more funding for education, and equal rights."

Welcome to Cutler's and Showtime's American Candidate Reality, where reality really is the name of the game, and you can pay to watch pols give you more of the same.

If you reached this spot via google's individual page archiving, and you'd like to read more, just click AMERICAN CANDIDATE: The AmCan Sham