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.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Is there a Donald Trump exit strategy?: "Arrive, Raise Hell, Leave". Twitter Wallpaper

Twitter Header graphic:
Donald Trump "Arrive, Raise Hell, Leave"
As soon as Donald Trump threw his hat in the ring, some speculated whether his campaign was a publicity stunt.
Would You Rather: GOP Edition
STEPHEN COLBERT: That's right, Trump's voters will not leave. I think that represents a huge problem for one person - Donald Trump. Cuz when I hear this man say nothing can stop me from winning, not even shooting people. I don't hear appeal to voters, I hear a cry for help. Let's remember here's a guy who ran for President to promote probably a Reality show or his mattress brand or his line of premium ex-wives and now he looks like he might actually win... cause Donald Trump can't possibly want to be President. Its the hardest job in the world.
Whilst Trump has expressed his desire to be President and "Win for America" as far back as '88. Some contend his primary fixation is on winning, garnering the acclaim that comes with it but not undertaking the job itself. way Donald has run an unprecedentedly autonomous campaign, seemingly writing his own tweets and speaking extemporaneously on the stump. Could Trump sidestep the shackles of bureaucracy and become Kingmaker instead?
The Donald Trump / Ted Cruz Love Affair
SAM SEDER: (1m 04s) What's even more likely in my mind is that Trump may essentially all throw it behind Cruz
CLIFF SCHECTER: I can see that. I don't think he really wants this. I think he wants it right until he gets nominated and has to worry about traveling around with the Secret Service and stuff that he has no control over and he doesn't have the freedom to be as much of a jackass as 100% Donald Trump could be and I think you're right. You could see him right at that moment saying, if you supported me and you believe in what I believe - you have to support Ted Cruz.
SEDER: I mean who knows? One thing Trump is determined to do is that Jeb Bush does not become the nominee. He seems to have a genuine, deep-seated dislike of this guy... It's all speculation at this point... I think Trump would much rather appoint the President essentially than actually have to do the work
SCHECTER: ... and not have to bother with all the crap himself but he could be the guy the TV asks about it constantly
Sam and Cliff's suggestion of anointing Ted Cruz was well before Donald's success in the debates and subsequent Primary victories. This was also at a time when both current frontunners were still amicable with each other. Running with the theory that Trump is after an exit strategy, Comedian Louis C.K. offers his own target for a possible Trump handoff.
Louis C.K. Slams Trump: "The Guy is Hitler," "We Are Being Germany in the '30s"
A vote for Trump is so clearly a gut-vote, and again I get it. But add a little brain to it and look the guy up. Because if you vote for him because of how you feel right now, the minute he's president, you're going to regret it. You're going to regret it even more when he gives the job to his son. Because American democracy is broken enough that a guy like that could really fuck things up.
Former APF Pundit cum Late Night Talk show host, Stephen Colbert continues to offer the best psychoanalysis on what might be driving the mogul.
VIDEO: Trump, Pile Of Meat 2016
STEPHEN COLBERT: I think if we're honest, I think I know what's going on here. Donald is just insecure. I don't know if Donald even wants to be president. The guy just needs constant validation, that's clear and isn't that what all of us want? Love. Just love and maybe steak. And if we just give that to him maybe he'll go away. So Mr Trump, Mr Trump, Mr Trump and I know you're watching because I said your name three times I just want you to know that everyone thinks you're cool. OK. You're smart, you are good at companies and business-ing and no doubt you're hung like a pool noodle...
Whilst offering no prescription, Bill Maher imagines how Donald Trump's reign might end. No doubt to the delight of many from both sides of the aisle.
Maher Fantasizes About Trump Dying on Stage, Jokes About Cheney Dying
BILL MAHER: Although, here's a little bit of hope, you know. I know, nothing ever seems to stop this guy no matter what you throw at him. You ever see the movie War of the Worlds, Tom Cruise movie, right? That gives me hope because, if you remember the movie, the space invaders are just totally kicking our ass. I mean, they got their tripods, they got the forcefields around them, nothing can stop them, and then they just die.
They just die. Nobody does anything. They just f***ing die. I mean, it's like they just got to page 100 in the script and went, "F*** it, they just die." Have Morgan Freeman come and do a voiceover. They get the flu or something.
Update:
New theory among anti-Trumpers: He's deliberately sabotaging his campaign
That theory, the "honorable exit," worked out well, didn't it? Markay's version is really just the "honorable exit" in the form of a brokered convention.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Quotes compilation: GOP Debates as Pro-Wrestling matches

VIDEO: Trump Turns GOP into Pro Wrestling  
MICHAEL SMERCONISH: (0m 18s) What went on in Houston Thursday night gave me a flashback. Early 1970s, Saturday mornings, our Family rec room. My brother and me on bean bag chairs watching Pro-Wrestling... Good guys VS Bad guys, mudslinging and foreign objects. Well, guess who learned on those mats too, Yes the classy Trumpinator. And so it was in Houston, Rubio and Cruz tagteamed the villainous Trump but their victory was short-lived as the Trumpinator pulled someone else into the ring thankfully not wearing tights. Former arch-rival Chris Christie was suddenly his sidekick but can anything stop Trump's ascent before this episode of Wrestlemania wraps up on Tuesday?

Kurtz: Trump controls the media (and bumps me!)
HOWARD KURTZ: (1m 52s) The debate was fascinating because even though Rubio finally did what the press wanted him to do and attack Trump. They went toe to toe and Cruz did some attacking as well. There was so much yelling and so much crosstalk and these guys talking over each other. It was one eccentric moment after the other, Wolf Blitzer had utterly lost control of the debate at several points. I think that blunted the whole thing. I think many of these attacks cancelled each other out because it was such a professional Wrestling match.

Carson: Moderators didn't want to gain control of GOP debate
ERIC BOLLING: We just got out of a raucous debate sir. What are your thoughts? How did you do tonight?
BEN CARSON: Well I did fine with the few questions I was asked and the few opportunities I had to weigh in. But it was clearly a debate that was aimed at World Wrestling Federation. There was no interest in hearing about the actual issues and what the solutions are
BOLLING: Boy there was a lot of fighting. The middle three especially Trump/Rubio/Cruz going back and forth. Did the debate moderators lose control of that a bit?
CARSON: I don't think they wanted to gain control because I think they were enjoying the fight. They probably figure it was increasing their ratings
BOLLING: Let me call you on that sir. At one point, I think it was you that said "Could someone please fight with me?"
CARSON: It seemed that was the only way you were going to get airtime if somebody attacked you. It's pretty sad that we've gotten to this point in our Country. Where we're talking about a Presidential debate. Where we're talking about electing a President and we're not talking about people's real policies. What do they believe? Why do they believe that? Don't the people deserve to know that?

Rubio changes tactics, tries to 'out-Trump' Trump
GRETA VAN SUSTEREN: (2m 04s) Everybody in Stevens Point is watching and thinking "We're all nuts here". They watched that punching back and forth. I wonder if they're thinking this is great democracy working or this is just a bunch of nutty people yelling insults at each other going way off the rails.
CONGRESSMAN SEAN DUFFY: I think this is where the debate is today and if you wanna win and you're going to wrestle with a pig you're going to get dirty. Marco Rubio got dirty last night wrestling with Trump but he came out the winner and ate his lunch...

Deep rifts on display in 9th Republican debate
JOE SCARBOROUGH: I tell you what that was a horrible debate, I know it was like the most watched. Not only what was going on on-stage, I'm sorry the crowd was offensive.
WILLIE GEIST: I loved it
(panel laughs)
SCARBOROUGH: Of course you would. But it was so offensive you would have candidates halfway through their answers and they would start booing. It was like a Gladiator match...
KRISTEN SOLTIS ANDERSON: It made me feel like I was a watching a Professional Wrestling match. These are important conflicts between these candidates that we need to tease out... it's not that these candidates don't need to be engaged in hand-to-hand combat on stage but something about the audience did give it more of a feel of watching a Professional Wrestling match.

Rubio attacks on Trump too little, too late?
LELAND VITTERT: (1m 10s) Rubio continues to pound on Trump, "Conman, Con-artist and everything else. Hair Force One". Too little, too late by Marco or does he have Trump rattled?
PETE SNYDER: I was half expecting John Cena to pop out of the back screen, classic WWE style. I think this has gotten a little out of hand Leland and I think it is a little too little, too late. We had months and months to see who could be the alpha and who could stand up to Trump and noone did. I can understand the strategy of Marco trying to make it a two-person race but this thing is all but over on the Republican side.

Politics is wrestling, Quote roundup (2010)

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Ducking Donald Trump with Phil and Willie Robertson of Duck Dynasty.

Not all Pay-Per-Views in Wrestling are marquee events. Most are stepping stones that serve to ratchet up storylines for an eventual pay-off. Main events for marquee PPVs will feature the dueling contenders mano a mano, the result leaving no ambivalence as to who came out on top. The placeholder PPVs leading up to this conclusion will feature gimmick matches and fights buffered by other contestants that allow for muddled resolutions leaving viewers wanting more. Examples include rivals pairing up with Celebrities, working alongside new partners and sometimes even each other. The aim, to tease proximity and conflict but delaying gratification. The clean finish, the full stop. Anticipation building is the product, when done well every moment in Wrestling is calculated to build hype.

VIDEO: Will Donald Trump show up to the Fox News debate?
CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER: (3m 41s) I think the prize as Trump defines it always is being the center of attention. Calculated or not -- and I think most likely it is-- is going to concentrate all the attention and all the discussion between now and when you go on the air Thursday at 9 on whether he's going to show up or not. So between now and then he's the story which he's managed to do, brilliantly since June. Always creating new storylines, look the genius of a Reality TV is that it has to constantly be changing. You can't have the same storyline week after week or the show dies.
He kept his going for 14 years. He keeps changing the story, when he makes an outrageous statement and he's waiting for incoming. He makes another outrageous statement so that all the attention is focused on the second. He's used that --I think again brilliantly-- for 6 months to manoeuvre himself to the top.
With a week out before the Iowa Caucus, polls consistently show the GOP race is ostensibly between two people - Donald Trump and Ted Cruz with Marco Rubio a distant third. The upcoming Fox News/Google Debate, the sixth of its kind for the GOP still fields 7 contestants. At best the protracted "job interview" gives voters a large sample to gauge a Candidates' temperance and fortitude. At worst its a fatiguing ceremony that primarily serves as a cash cow for the 24 hours News Media.

In the WWE, there are 5 marquee PPVs spaced out over the year. As such, storylines are paced so big events occur in time with these dates. The Royal Rumble and Wrestlemania have historically been must-watch viewing for Wrestling fans to start the year. Sandwiched by these two powerhouses is the 'Fastlane' PPV. I've used this as the template for my latest wallpaper.

'American Pundit Fighting' presents Ducklane
Celebrity Tag Team match: Ted Cruz and Phil Robertson
VS Donald Trump and Willie Robertson
Chief rival Ted Cruz capitalised on Donald Trump skipping the debate by hatching a #DonaldDuck meme with a 'Ducking Donald' page on his Campaign website. Earlier this week, conservative Reality TV stars, Phil and Willie Robertson of 'Duck Dynasty' split their vote by endorsing each of the GOP frontrunners.

VIDEO: Phil and Willie Robertson open up about their endorsements

The "Duck Lane" refers to Donald Trump's bold move to parlay his frontrunner status into a powerplay that could either catapult him into a league of his own or derail his campaign. Gleaming from another set of headline-grabbing Trump antics, former APF Pundit Stephen Colbert noted
Would You Rather: GOP Edition
STEPHEN COLBERT: That's right, Trump's voters will not leave. I think that represents a huge problem for one person - Donald Trump. Cuz when I hear this man say nothing can stop me from winning, not even shooting people. I don't hear appeal to voters, I hear a cry for help. Let's remember here's a guy who ran for President to promote probably a Reality show or his mattress brand or his line of premium ex-wives and now he looks like he might actually win... cause Donald Trump can't possibly want to be President. Its the hardest job in the world.
Win or lose, Trump has controlled the narrative allowing him to spin the result to his advantage. Even giving him the opportunity to exit the entire Presidential race while preserving his aura. Let's see how this plays out.

Sunday, January 24, 2016

National Review "Against Trump" wallpaper: The GOP 2016 Royal Rumble

National Review "Against Trump" wallpaper: The GOP 2016 Royal Rumble
A new Trump wallpaper inspired by the upcoming WWE Royal Rumble. Dubbed 'One versus All', reigning Champ Roman Reigns is tasked with defending his title against the 29 other entrants. A stipulation created by WWE Establishment to strip him off his power.

National Review (Feb 2016): 'Against Trump' issue
Mirroring this storyline, conservative journal 'The National Review' published a special issue arguing "Against Trump". Featuring 22 prominent conservatives outlining their concerns for Trump as GOP nominee, headlined by APF pundit Glenn Beck and notables like Michael Medved and "top heel" William Kristol.

Donald Trump has already hit back by dismissing the relevance of the magazine whilst feigning concern. A classic Trump retort.
Whilst Glenn Beck has been actively warning his conservative viewers and counterparts of Trump, this latest assault might have awakened the GOP frontrunner and spun off a potentially juicier Feud. No doubt Trump will eventually go after Beck's own Media Empire and challenge its influence and financial standing. For now, the new program was teased with this promo on the "crying Glenn Beck"

Thursday, January 14, 2016

The Montreal Screwjob of GOP Politics: Donald Trump and Ted Cruz

A wallpaper for the Calgary-born Ted Cruz inspired by legendary wrestler Bret Hart. The Hart Family are arguably the First Family of Calgary.

Ted "Hitman" Cruz wallpaper
The two GOP frontrunners who some speculate will ultimately run in the same ticket come the Presidential elections are locked in fierce battle for the Nomination. Donald Trump has recently soft-pedalled the same "Birther" charges he championed against President Obama.

VIDEO | Rush Limbaugh LOLs at Trump-Cruz Birther-ghazi

Entertained by the disingenuous issue, Rush Limbaugh recaps the brouhaha. Largely a misdirection ploy by Donald Trump in light of tightening Poll Numbers in Iowa.
VIDEO | Birther Sequel: Trump dings Cruz's citizenship
DONALD TRUMP: I just know that it's being questioned all over and a lot of people are asking me that question... All I know is that a lot of people are talking about. I hope it's not so, I hope it doesn't come about but people are worried that if he weren't born in this Country -- which he wasn't, he was born in Canada and he actually had a Canadian passport along with the US passport until just recently. Like within the last couple of years -- So I don't know what it all means. I know that people are talking about it. The problem is that if the Democrats bring a lawsuit, the lawsuit could take years to resolve and how do you have a candidate where there's something over the head of the party and that individual. So I hope it wouldn't be the truth, I hope that wouldn't be what it is.
Ted Cruz dismissed the charge by tweeting a 'Happy Days' clip of Fonzie jumping the shark, "I'm not going to engage in this and the reason is simple, there are far too many serious issues facing this country... what the American people are looking for is whose prepared to be Commander-in-Chief? Who has the seriousness, who has the judgment, who has the knowledge, who has the clarity and vision. Who has the strength and resolve?".

Daily Show presenter Trevor Noah quipped of this turn of events "I didn't know that this shit could happen to Republicans as well... This sh*t is insane! No, no, you've got to understand — because I didn't know that this shi*t could happen to Republicans as well. Like, I thought Republicans were the ones who do this, and not the ones that get this done to them."

Update:
Ted Cruz, judging by the cheers at the latest GOP debate might have put this issue to bed.
VIDEO | Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Clash at the Fox Business GOP Debate
Donald Trump and Ted Cruz Clash at the Fox Business GOP Debate
TED CRUZ: (40s) I'm glad we're focusing on the important topics of the evening. Back in September, my friend Donald said that he had his lawyers look at this from every which way and there was no issue there. There was nothing to this "Birther" issue. Now, since September the Constitution hasn't changed but the Poll Numbers have and I recognise that Donald is dismayed that his Poll Numbers are falling in Iowa. But the facts and the law here are really quite clear under longstanding US Law, the child of a US Citizen born abroad is a naturally born citizen...

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Senator Ted Cruz cuts a promo on the media in the 3rd GOP debate

VIDEO: Fox & Friends (Ted Cruz rails on the moderators)


"The questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media."Ted Cruz rails on the moderators
Posted by Fox & Friends on Thursday, October 29, 2015
TED CRUZ: Questions that have been asked so far in this debate illustrate why the American people don't trust the media. This is not a Cage match, you look at the questions
- Donald Trump, are you a comic book villain?
- Ben Carson, can you do math?
- Jon Kasich, will you insult two people over here?
- Marco Rubio, why don't you resign?
- Jeb Bush, why have your numbers fallen?
How about talking about the substantive issues people care about?
...
the contrast with the Democratic debate, where every fawning question from the media was "which of you is more handsome and wise... the men and women on this stage more ideas, more experience, more commonsense than every participant on the Democratic debate. That debate reflected a debate between the Bolsheviks and the Mensheviks.