Saturday, October 15, 2016

Daniel Horowitz on how "Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Pro-Wrestling". How the fake fight is debasing American Politics.

Daniel Horowitz laments to his audience how Conservatives have forsaken their ideals, engaging in rhetorical fights that have the appearance of conviction whilst not actually standing up for traditional principles.

CONSERVATIVE CONSCIENCE | Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Professional Wrestling
DANIEL HOROWITZ: (1m 27s) What we have going on nowadays is a phony conservative party, a phony Presidential nominee, a phony conservative media... where you basically have a false flag operation where everyone's yelling and fighting. There's a lot of acrimony but when you peel back what's going on they're fighting over nothing...
That's today's topic -- Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Professional Wrestling. WWE!
You see the bodyslams and the chairs, knocking the guy's heads in. This and that, all the noise but its fake, there's nothing going on. That's exactly what today's political discourse is. Today's political reality is. And I want to go through the news of the day, what's really important for Conservatives to focus on and through that we'll come to the conclusion that the Republican Party on the Presidential level, the Congressional level and at the Conservative Media level engage in a fake fight with the Left when it really matters and how it debases who we are and moves the contours of the political debate inexorably to the left and also into the gutter...
We are everything the left is, minus some change. Minus some pennies... this is not just on fiscal policy. This is on who we are as people. This is on morality, this is on culture. This is who we are. This phony, binary fight where everyone gets wrapped up in -- "Oh man, everything's going to hinge on what happens". Its all fake. Its all fake wrestling... lots of fireworks in that debate. How many policy statements were really in contention? How much did they really disagree on?
Lots of insults traded. But over what? Because you're the Red Team and I'm the Blue Team so we have to fight...
The phoniness accentuated this Presidential Election as both parties promote deeply flawed and unfavourable nominees. Policy wise both candidates are more centrist than their base would prefer whilst conversely representing the most partisan figurehead imaginable for their opposition. A tricky balancing act for any would-be supporters.

The gravitational force this election has undoubtedly been Donald Trump, a unique political animal. A celebrity businessman with wrestling bona fides. He has leveraged his sturdy following and "Crash TV" appeal to commandeer the GOP and the media. Arguably the entire political process. Writer Virginia Heffernann offers her take on how a seasoned statesman like Hillary has had to bend to this pehnomenon albeit a political novice
TRUMPCAST | The Boys on the Bus
VIRGINA HEFFERNAN: (5m 23s) In this great book from years ago called the 'Epistemology of the Closet' by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick... There's this wonderful moment where she talks about bilingualism and the dominant position of someone who only speaks one language, even one dialect the way Trump does. This coarse dialect that he has.

She cites [US President] Reagan and [French President] Mitterand. Mitterand was super-worldly and spoke French and English. Reagan only spoke English and so they always negotiated in English, so Mitterand's always in his second language. And Trump always gets to talk like this and everybody else -- because most women are familiar with this idiom. Hillary Clinton is certainly familiar with this idiom but has had to completely abandon her way of talking and her way of comporting herself to have a conversation on this level
JACOB WEISBERG: Right, he defines the terms of the debate
Jacob Weisberg expands on the point in a later episode, citing how Trump's competitors resorted to mimicry as his brash presentation proved a winning formula for the primary
TRUMPCAST Extra: The "Grabfest Post Debate Special" Edition
JACOB WEISBERG: (14m 46s) There's the Marco Rubio example, I mean he's [Trump] trying to drag you down to his level. If you respond to him at his level, although it could be satisfying in the moment and everybody kind of wants it. Its almost definitely a mistake because at that point people are saying "Oh, the problem is both candidates -- its this campaign, the campaign is disgusting." and to refrain from being disgusting and respond to someone who's treating you vilely is really hard and takes a lot of discipline
Jacob and Daniel have divergent political interests but raise similar concerns about the lowering standards of American Politics
DANIEL HOROWITZ: (20m 18s) Imagine if all of Talk Radio, if all the internet sites, if all the concerns people are focused on would focus on what's important. Would lead a movement that's important. Would lead a movement that we can be proud of. Instead this is what we've become. Its all this, this is WWE. Its all an entertainment now. Its all entertainment business. Complete nonsense, this whole thing is immoral. But this is how you shift the contours of the debate permanently... If we don't fundamentally change the movement, if we don't fundamentally change the game we've already lost anyway...

We've become desensitized because again the Left is so evil and immoral but the more immoral they get we can always point to the fact we're one or two steps less immoral than them so you can create a fake fight over that. "You're this and I'm that. Well you did this". Meanwhile the more immoral and evil they get, the more immoral and evil we get. Cuz we keep getting schlepped over with them. So by engaging in that fight you're almost validating and consummating that degree, its like that ratchet theory we talk about. You hone in, you lock it in. You can only keep moving forward but not backwards. You already lost it.
Sadly the spectacle and team sports aspects of American Politics are big drawcards for casual watchers. Trump has capitalised on his name recognition and showmanship to deliver an engaging product, electrifying his populist base and enthralling everyone else. Whilst the debasing of political discourse has depressed donor funding, the "Trump effect" has increased public engagement and become a boon for News Networks. In Combat Sports anything goes when you're selling a fight, competitors are forgiven for throwing missiles and brawling at Press Conferences because promoters know all publicity is good and whets the audiences' appetite.

Trump has been a perfect ratings vehicle, his thirst for attention has driving his popularity. The "fight" between Trump and the Media mutually beneficial. Tapping into the Reality TV zeitgeist, if a Presidency doesn't pan out the "Trump Show " could spin-off into a Media Empire. Wyatt Cenac once said on the 'Daily Show' -- "You think politicians wanna win their arguments when all they really wanna do is keep having them. They know arguments are interesting, they energize voters, they keep the money flowing in.".

Some have played "chicken" with Trump because he represents a foil for the GOP. As people like Jacob Weisberg and Daniel Horowitz have asserted, we might be allowing the "Trump Show" to take down American Politics altogether.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The 2016 Vice Presidential Debate Wallpaper: Tim Kaine VS Mike Pence

NXT Arrival: Mike Pence VS Tim Kaine
Keepin' it 1600 | Ep. 38: VP Debate React and State of the Race

JON FAVREAU: (16m 50s) It was jarring to see normal candidates talking right?
TOMMY VIETOR: In full sentences about issues
FAVREAU: The same way that watching the Clinton debates in the Primaries against Bernie were sort of boring and a totally different feeling than that involving Trump. This had that feeling again. Normal Politics was suddenly back. We were talking about issues. It was almost depressing because as entertaining as the other thing is, its horrible.
VIETOR: What it makes you realise is that there is hope for us after Trump. We can get past Trump. Politics is still really f*cked up but we can go back to debates like that. Except there is a lot of lying, lying with impunity is still a problem
The only Vice Presidential debate took place Tuesday, sandwiched between the First and Second Presidential showdowns. Most political watchers see the VP debates as only marginally consequential especially in contrast to the outsized personalities involved at the top of the ticket, the Main Event. Being that both Hillary and Donald are the oldest nominees to contest for the Presidency some lip service was paid. The VP debate offered a seemingly singular opportunity for the public to be introduced to Mike Pence and Tim Kaine head to head with under 40 days left before voting.
The general consensus among pundits was that Mike Pence won, largely on presentation. He was measured in his tone, sidestepping many of the charges Tim Kaine laid at his feet. Kaine whilst being more substantive was mostly dismissed due to his constant interruptions of Pence and the moderator, a mishandling of the permitted "discussion" format. Mike Pence' credentials as a former Radio Talker often cited for his deftness on the stage.

Inforwars: Live feed of the VP Debate
LA Times: Scoring the Vice Presidential Debate
Several outlets employed the Combat sports analogy, de rigeur this election season and moving forward I suspect. Infowars used a boxing graphic to accompany their live election feed. The LA Times went with a Greco-Roman wrestling motif, complete with Judges' scorecards.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

First Presidential Debate Wallpaper: PAYBACK

APF presents 'PAYBACK':
Presidential Debate I. Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)
There's an adage in combat sports, "Styles make fights". Not unlike Rock–Paper–Scissors, attributes become advantages or impediments depending on what they're matched with. Trump's striking VS Clinton's resilience. His passion VS her poise. The Unorthodox VS the Seasoned. Business Outsider VS Political Insider. Reflex VS Preparedness. In the upcoming Presidential Debate, we'll finally see what shakes out from the "Styles Clash" between Republican Nominee Donald Trump and Democratic stalwart Hillary Clinton.

In the inaugural episode of the 'Race to the White House' podcast, Associate Professor Brendon O'Connor summarises the competing styles and why It's difficult to predict how it'll go down.


Race to the White House - Episode 1
BRENDON O'CONNOR: (18m 53s) There's two ways of approaching Politics. One way is to be very policy-oriented, which forces you to think about process and costings... and there's another way of seeing Politics as a symbolic business. That you're about making people feel good about themselves, that politics is very therapeutic. That you talk about America being a great place or making America great again. You talk about things that are to some extent fantastical, like "Change" or putting up a wall between United States and Mexico. And there's no real possibility that you could bring about a process really to get these things into action. They're about reassuring Americans, I like to call it Public Self-Help talk. They're about soothing people and saying that everything's going to be OK. We're still going to be a great or exceptional nation. Politics has gone along that path, every election in America since the 1970's. It's just gone along more and more in that regard.

Trump in some ways is the extreme end of that Therapeutic Politics that really overpromises on a sense of something that is illusionary, something that is a fantasy but its gonna soothe the American public. That is gonna sound reassuring or different.
Where Hillary Clinton is a throwback in some regards. She's a Policy wonk. She's someone where her clear strengths are when she talks about details and process and so you have quite the contrast...

How you campaign against Donald Trump as Hillary Clinton is very challenging and when you debate him as we'll see in the coming weeks is even more challenging because you're speaking a totally different language. You're not working on the same assumptions. You're not attempting to engage in Politics in the same way.
A strangely overlooked aspect of the upcoming showdown is the shared history between the Clintons and Trump. Whilst photos and stories surface about Trump's cordial relationship with Bill and Hillary, this history has been overshadowed by the polarised rhetoric of Election season. The Clinton's have been such an enduring force in American Politics that although they've become institutional punching bags for the masses, they've also calcified into allies amongst the elite. Hillary released an Ad quoting Donald Trump's praise for her before they were pitted as opponents.

You can peruse Trump's Twitter timeline for a trail of his enemies, anyone who's wronged him gets mentioned and pilloried. In person however, he remains affable and conciliatory. Trump and Jeb chummily low-fived despite relentless attacks in the Debates. Though he launched his campaign with contentious rhetoric towards Mexico, Trump was gracious towards Mexican President Nieto during their face-to-face. Trump employed a winning defense during the GOP Primary, reversing his coziness with Hillary into a spiel about Business buying Political access. Everything's fair game when you're selling a fight. It'll be interesting to see how real the bad blood is when they finally step in the ring.

Best friends, Bitter enemies:
Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
Watch how Wrestling sells a feud between former best friends, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. The shared history heightens the drama and raises the stakes for their match. Their intimate knowledge of each other offers the possibility of deeper cuts and tangled motivations. In the Wrestling example we're keenly aware of the theatre in repurposing their relationship into a compelling feud. I wonder how much we'll sense from Hillary and Donald's friendship once they finally clash.

VIDEO: NXT Champion Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens tell their history

Mirroring the showdowns between Sami and Kevin. I'll be making Presidential Debate Wallpapers using the WWE PPV timeline, starting with 'PAYBACK'.

Update:
After Trump rival and Businessman, Mark Cuban tweeted he had front row seats for the First Presidential Debate. Trump, in true heel fashion threatened to put Gennifer Flowers alongside him. Flowers had an affair with Former President Bill Clinton whilst he was Governor of Arkansas.
Gennifer Flowers and Mark Cuban ringside at #HofDebate16
Update: Gennifer Flowers won't be attending the Debate. Trump's guests include a Benghazi attack survivor and Gold Star mother among others.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

'Review America' a limited podcast series on American Politics through the prism of Wrestling

Wrestling fans have a unique way of viewing the world. A perspective with elements from Media Studies or observational comedy, they see the superficial presentation whilst taking into account the layers of Meta-reference and insider jargon. The culture has moved towards a better understanding of this through the popularity of 'The Daily Show' and the rise of Independent Media challenging and unpacking mainstream news.

Review America  – Episode 1: The RNC
Which brings us to today, where we can have an audience receptive to a show discussing American Politics through the prism of Wrestling. 'Review America: Wrestling with Democracy' is a limited series podcast hosted on the 'Fight Network', a Canadian media station dedicated to Combat sports. Hosted by Americans Brian Mann and Nate Milton, its a spin-off from a 2012 episode where Canadians John Pollock and Wai Ting departed from their regular format of reviewing Wrestling PPVs to investigating the compelling Presidential showdown between nominees Governor Romney (r) and Senator Obama (d). Not unlike my own fascination with America's brand of Politics as an outsider all those years ago. Host Brian describes the zeitgeist which birthed the show in the show's opening address:
Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton – Episode 1: The RNC
BRIAN MANN: (2m 37s) This really does feel like a convergence this year where a lot of the world is kinda becoming hip to the Pro-Wrestling way of doing things unfortunately. You and I, we obviously have no shame when it comes to liking Pro-Wrestling but its interesting how our entire society has kind of unknowingly adapted to the same framework of thinking. A couple of months ago the New York Times wrote a really great article... and I just want to share a quote from it...
'Is Everything Wrestling' by Jeremy Gordon
If a story is told well, if its history seems consistent, then the machinations putting it into place can be temporarily overlooked or turned into a fun story of their own. And why not? In the end, we're all marks for a world we want to believe in.
And I think that really puts this election into focus, the reason Nate and I are going to spend a couple of weeks and really months until this wraps up in November is because I think there is a uniquely Pro-Wrestling way of looking at this entire election. So this isn't going to strictly be a Political show, we are going to be tying it into that. We will be viewing this through the framework of "Marks" and "Smarks" and "kayfabe"* and everything that I think our audience is conditioned to think and that's why we want to bring the show to you on this platform (The Fight Network) rather than putting it out through a different party. This is a show about Politics but for Wrestling fans even though we're not necessarily going to be making Ted DiBiase jokes every second.

*Glossary for wrestling jargon:
Mark - Fan who enjoys and consumes Wrestling at face value
Smark - Fan aware of Wrestling's artifice and appreciates its meta layers. Short for "Smart Mark".
Kayfabe - Preservation of the illusion that Wrestling is real
My blog's initial focus on the Pundit Class was because they were more compelling (read: entertaining) Political personalities with arguably more influence on voters. They were unfettered as private citizens and not beholden to the usual journalistic constraints of objectivity and decorum. Pundits were establishing fiefdoms through their media empires, effectively fashioning their own voting blocs to leverage or rival the Politicians.
This election, the rise of Donald Trump as the "rogue" nominee for the Republican Party represents the convergence of Wrestling, Punditry and Politics. With 10.8 million Twitter followers, coupled with his unrivaled ability to engulf "Free Media", Trump is a One-Man Noise Machine.
Nate Milton expands:
Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton – Episode 1: The RNC
NATE MILTON: You talk about relating in the way you and I... look at Pro-Wrestling you can easily apply it to the world of Politics and I think in this election in particular where you have two oversized characters. One in Hillary Clinton on the Democratic side and Donald Trump, the guy we're gonna be focusing on most this week on the Republican side. Someone who has dabbled in the world of Pro-Wrestling. He's a WWE Hall-of-Famer so he's no stranger to the world of Kayfabe but I think its gonna be an interesting journey for us because as you've mentioned Politics is something that we often talk about and to our credit its something we enjoy talking about and to the listeners' credit something that they didn't mind when we went down that road so I think we're gonna have a lot of fun and get to some insightful places... and I think the tagline "Wrestling with Democracy" is very appropriate.
I founded this blog in 2007, at the close of George W Bush' presidency and gearing up to the 08' Presidential Race. The Politics is Wrestling meme had been forwarded in sprinkles but the "Pundit Fight" premise of the blog was only possible with the advent of Air America Radio. The Progressive Radio Network provided a stable of Liberal talkers to counteract the "Right Wing Noise Machine". This allowed me to pit Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter against the likes of Jon Stewart and Rachel Maddow, the incubation of the politicised Media marketplace today.


Its a telling state of affairs that a Presidential Nominee has usurped all of the Pundits combined, not only in bombast but his ability to manipulate the media and the masses. Its worth noting that 'Review America' never had to mention the Pundit Class in relating American Politics to Wrestling. Donald Trump has seemingly made PunditFight obsolete by becoming the living incarnation of it. Sad.

Pundits TRUMPED!
Links to the 3 'Review America with Brian Mann & Nate Milton' episode so far:
- Episode 1: The RNC
- Episode 2: The DNC
- Episode 3: Diagnosing Donald

Friday, June 10, 2016

Was Donald Trump booed at the 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction for his politics?

Trump Booed at WWE Hall of Fame Induction in Madison Square Garden
Donald Trump had to cut his acceptance speech short Saturday night during his induction into the WWE Hall of Fame after fans booed him at Madison Square Garden. Trump, a real estate mogul and longtime WWE supporter, was one of the five inductees into the prestigious WWE Hall of Fame during Saturday's ceremony. He was the only one to be booed.
Donald Trump's 2013 Hall of Fame speech
The WWE has considerable history with American Politics. Presidential Candidates have appeared in video packages addressing their coveted demographic. The White House also partnering with WWE for 'Get out the Vote' campaigns. Wrestling legend and former Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura plotted to leverage WWE's ground game for Ballot access on his idle Presidential bid. Vince's wife and WWE President Linda McMahon mounted an unsuccesful campaign for a Connecticut Senate seat as a Republican.

Considering Wrestling's populist appeal you might think Trump was warmly welcomed at his 2013 WWE Hall of Fame induction. In fact he was booed. It's an unfair sample, the Hall of Fame Celebrity Wing is an absurd concept ripe for ridicule for fickle Wrestling fans. Whilst the ceremony was held in Trump's Liberal hometown New York, it wasn't immediately clear that a clash of politics was behind it.

When TV Guide pondered why Trump was booed at the Hall of Fame event, the handful of commenters offered that it was due to his idiocy. An incredulous charge as the foundation of Wrestling and Reality TV is taking High status idiots seriously. Even if that were the case with charisma being the currency in Wrestling, Trump should've been able to win the crowd over with his rhetoric. As former WWE commentator Jim Ross wrote "Trump is a natural-born communicator, a showman who seamlessly integrated into the WWE lexicon..."

Many sites at the time pondered as to why Trump was booed during their reporting of the event. The comments from 2013 offer a time capsule of the perceptions people had about Trump as a celebrity figure before this newfound gravitas as the Republican nominee.

"You're not even gonna let him [Trump] come out here before you boo him"
- Vince McMahon
WWE Hall of Fame 2013 (April 6th)
New York MetLife Stadium as part of WrestleMania 29

VINCE McMAHON: (2h 37m) There's so many ways I can describe Donald Trump. One that you may not be thinking of... Donald Trump is a Wrestlemania institution. It all started over a quarter of a century ago, it started when Donald hosted Wrestlemania IV at Trump Plaza Hotel & Casino...
When you think about it, second only to me Donald might very well be a great President of the United States
-- pause for a smattering of boos mixed with tepid applause --
Would I be a better President?
-- instant cheers followed by a "YES!" chant --
Donald's gonna find out soon that this is a very partisan crowd.
To show you how Magnanimous I am and how I never carry a grudge, its my distinct honor to introduce you to the newest member of the WWE Hall of Fame Class of 2013
-- murmur of boos --
You're not even gonna let him come out here before you boo him
-- "No!" chants --
I can assure you Donald Trump knows exactly what he's getting into so Ladies and Gentleman, my friend Donald Trump
-- no reaction as Trump's "Money, money" entrance theme hits. Slight boos as he approaches mic --
"Woah!? Tough, tough people."
- Donald Trump
DONALD TRUMP: Woah! Tough. Tough people. Thank you very much everybody... Now Vince has been trying for the last 6 years to break our PPV record. He's had some great people on but you know what, it's not gonna happen. The same enthusiasm and love you have for me tonight, I feel it. That's why you all came down to watch me get my ass kicked and my head shaved but it didn't happen so we're happy about that.
Now I have to introduce a few you really great people. My son Eric Trump, stand up Eric.
-- boos begin to which Donald nervously laughs --
My daughter and a really big Television star she's become. Ivanka!
-- cheers from the crowd--
Aaaay! Come here, come here Ivanka. Oh finally they like somebody in the Trump family. Well this is Ivanka, we're very proud of Ivanka and she does great on the 'Apprentice'. Do we agree? Aaaaaiee, good. Ivanka you turned the tide, thank you...
This is a major honor... and I consider this my greatest honor of all. I do, I really do. So for Vince, Linda and the whole family I just want to thank you all and I really do love you people. Even the ones that don't like me so much. Have a good time, thank you so much.

Monday, May 16, 2016

Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca predicts Mark Cuban will one day be American President, ushered by the Trump phenomenon

BATTLE of the BILLIONAIRES:
Mark Cuban VS Donald Trump
Venture Investor Chris Sacca as guest on the Bill Simmons Podcast posed an interesting theory about what the Donald Trump phenomenon has ushered for Politics moving forward. Whilst most speculate on the fissure in the Republican Party, little has been written about the sudden viability of "Moneyed, Entertainment" candidates for future Presidential runs.

Ep. 95: Billionaire Investor Chris Sacca
CHRIS SACCA: (1h 15m 10s) Can I make a prediction for your audience, I think he will be the President of the United States
BILL SIMMONS: Mark Cuban?

SACCA: Mark Cuban will be the President of the United States. I think Hillary wins this election and probably holds on for two terms and I think its an open field and Mark Cuban runs as a very moderate Republican and wins.
So think about it, Donald Trump. One of the things I've learnt that's just been wild from my own personal journey, watching Cuban and watching Trump. Is that the minute you're labelled a Billionaire in this country everyone takes everything you say as Bible. It's just you can do no wrong. They just think that guy's smart, he made a bunch of money, he must be a genius. And it's completely untrue obviously. You know a lot of Billionaires who are wrong about a lot of things, like I love Mark Cuban but he happens to wrong more than he's right and that's why we've become good friends.
But you listen to people who support Donald and you see that they eat the trough of his Bullsh*t but they think it's all inherently true because look the guy is a Billionaire because of these businesses. United States is a Country, it should be run like a business so let's hire a really successful businessman to do it. Cuban has all that. Watch the engagement he has in Twitter and you'll see that people take what he says as Gospel completely.

SIMMONS: So he's a benevolent Trump?
SACCA: That's exactly right. He's not an idiot and he actually does care. And he does read and he is convincible on some things.
I think America loves that guy. He's not an idiot. America takes him at his word cuz he's a Billionaire. I think he's got crossover appeal. He's the American dream. I'm putting it right out there, right now. Mark Cuban will be President of the United States.
Mark Cuban is a Tech Billionaire best known as the outspoken owner of NBA team, the Dallas Mavericks. He is featured on Reality TV series 'Shark Tank' where entrepreneur-contestants pitch to "shark" investors like Cuban and Chris Sacca in hopes of getting assistance for their projects.
Mark Cuban and Donald Trump have a complicated relationship, they've sparred in the past via Twitter. A feud as fanciful an inciting incident as that prescribed to Trump's own Presidential motives. Supposedly stung by President Obama's Birther counterpunch at the White House Correspondent's dinner, Trump as the theory goes is striving to get the last laugh by seizing control of the ultimate bully pulpit. Would Cuban run for President to one up Donald Trump?

VIDEO - Mark Cuban: Donald Trump 'Hasn't Learned And That's A Real Problem'
| MTP Daily | MSNBC
   
MARK CUBAN: (6m 16s) He's not the type of person that gets in there and grinds. Most entrepreneurs to be successful, most CEOs to be successful you have to grind. You have to get in there and do the work. 24 by 7 you always have to be learning, always be contributing. Always finding better ways. I just don't get that sense from Donald. 10 months later after he announced, he's just not the candidate where you just say "Wow. This guy has really picked up an in-depth understanding of the issues" and that is a problem. So I don't see him as a reflection of a CEO, a reflection of an entrepreneur. He's good at what he's good at but I don't know if that's applicable...

STEVE KORNACKI: I imagine though you've looked at Trump the last year, you've talked about all the rules of politics he's rewritten. Somebody of your background, its gotta look doable now maybe more than it did a year ago.
CUBAN: Without question. It think it did open a door, I think he's set a path for entrepreneurs, for business people. I just hope he doesn't shut it through his actions *laughs*
Just like Trump did by challenging President Obama to reveal his Birth certificate, Cuban's labeling of Trump as the "Seinfeld candidate" (a candidacy about nothing) is a play for No.1 Contender status. The backhanded compliment distances him from negative aspects of the Donald whilst not alienating his "flock". As an aspirational future contender, just being mentioned in the same breath as presumptive nominee Trump and the "American Presidency" sets up storylines for a Mark Cuban Presidential run down the track.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Bill Simmons & Jon Favreau on Trump as a performer and American Politics as Pro-Wrestling

I came up with the American Politics is Pro-Wrestling analogy in 2007, finding commonality in the showmanship and psychology in both.
I primarily made comparisons in the world of Punditry where similarities were more ripe. Personalities were larger and less constrained, the hours of Daily TV and Radio time providing a forum for feuds and angles to develop. Politicians cut their promos on the Senate floor and on Cable News Shows, election season being the Political equivalent of the run-up to Wrestlemania.

In the near decade since starting the blog, I've tracked instances where the media has used the analogy. For a time former Wrestler and Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura was the perfect representation of the meme. This election cycle, the Politics as Wrestling analogy has turned into conventional wisdom as Donald Trump rampages his way to the GOP nomination. A WWE Hall-of-Famer, Reality TV star and Political influencer, Trump as Presidential candidate has distilled the meme into a winning formula for ratings and votes.


The Bill Simmons Podcast | Ep. 75: Jon Favreau and Dan Pfeiffer
JON FAVREAU: (10m 24s) My theory on Trump is, he's basically what you'd get if you had someone who just watched Cable News all day, specifically FOX and listening to Right Wing radio
BILL SIMMONS: Like if TV created a candidate or had a baby
FAVREAU: He knows just enough. Because its all surface level, its all bad news. Its all about how everyone in Washington on both parties are a bunch of Crooks and Liars. Its all punditry. Its all talking about poll numbers. This is what he does. He's better at Political Punditry and reciting poll numbers and reciting who's up and who's down and all that kind of stuff than he is talking about issues. And you could see like in the debate last night, every time you press him past... He's like an inch deep and a mile wide on knowledge on just about everything. So you press him more than 5 or 10 seconds on any given issue. He can't, cos he doesn't know.
'Sports Guy' Bill Simmons is a wrestling fan with the privilege of recording the first podcast with a sitting U.S. President (Maron later recorded the first long-form podcast). In conversation with fellow Holy Cross alumni Jon Favreau, former Director of Speechwriting for President Obama they illustrate the Politics as Wrestling analogy and how Trump perfectly embodies it.

Bill Simmons at SummerSlam 2015,
with President Obama recording a podcast in the White House.
BILL SIMMONS: (20m 15s) I'm not positive what the debates are supposed to accomplish because its a totally unnatural interaction and somebody like Trump who's a performer, he's such a better performer than anyone else on stage and he's just blowing everyone away in these debates until they finally started coming back at him. But in the first couple of ones, he was just being a bully and it worked
JON FAVREAU: Trump has realised what most candidates, including my old boss Barack Obama never realised which is that they are complete performances, these debates. Obama was terrible in debates for a long time. He got better during the Primary the more he did them...

SIMMONS: Why was he terrible? Was he overthinking it?
FAVREAU: Because he thought they were on the level. And he told us that. I though you get up there and debate issues with other people
SIMMONS: ...And it's Pro-Wrestling
FAVREAU: *agreeing* And it's Pro-Wrestling
SIMMONS: You're grabbing the mic and you're yelling at Stephanie McMahon, getting the crowd going
FAVREAU: and the way you have to, the way you're taught to answer a question in the debate is soundbite first, main message and then you sort of go backwards. So its not like you answer a real question where you build a logical argument from beginning to end which is what Obama does. He's a professor, a lawyer. In a debate you yell, scream, you ignore the question. It's WWF.
SIMMONS: *imitating Trump* "That's why Marco, that's why you're losing". Its like your opener. "That's why Ted Cruz is a liar". This is my point on that.
FAVREAU: That's like Trump the pundit again too right? The best moments in the debate is when he just says what everyone on Cable has been saying anyway. "You're at the end of the stage Jeb because you suck".

SIMMONS: That's one of the few defensible things about what Trump's done these last few months. The debates are ludicrous anyway. They are Pro-Wrestling and everybody kinda danced around it and Trump was the first one that was like - This IS Pro-Wrestling!
FAVREAU: Right, I'm just gonna go with it.
SIMMONS: Insulting everyone and that's how you win this. His messages are basically just this big, black and white headline. This, that, this. You're a liar, You're a jerk. You're losing
FAVREAU: Low energy
SIMMONS: You're low energy. Its really tough. Poor Jeb Bush he just didn't know what to do
FAVREAU: Well Jeb is just -- he looked like a candidate from another era... the last time he had campaigned was a decade ago maybe. So he had been out Politics for so long he hadn't realised how much it had changed. So he still thought that people were having debates like they used to back in the day. He was so not prepared for what Trump was...
Donald Trump has been welcomed by some as Frankenstein's monster revealing what the GOP has become. In a similar vein, Trump's rise has also laid bare the values of News Entertainment. The Presidential Donald persona birthed from the resentments of the Tea Party and the bombast of Cable News. Both astutely manipulated by Trump as an apparatus to deliver him to the White House.