Sunday, December 30, 2007

Hillary Clinton appears on WWE Television supporting the troops

A reader, Annette has brought to my attention that Hillary Clinton made an off-site video appearance on the latest episode of WWE's Raw.

Via the Wrestling-Online Newswire
Hilary Clinton campaign video on WWE.COM
- The usual pro-Republican WWE is carrying a video message from Hillary Clinton on the front page of WWE.COM. It is a Christmas message from the Democratic party front runner directed to the US military personnel spread around the world. The video/advert is paid for by the Hilary campaign and since it has nothing wrestling related - although it's part of the Tribute To The Troops mini site - it is probably just another paid ad for the website.
This is the video WWE viewers would have seen,

VIDEO: Hillary Clinton's holiday message to the troops

See the video on Hillary's official website
Visit WWE's Tribute to the Troops minisite

Saturday, December 29, 2007

End of Year Awards

I hope everyone enjoyed spending time over the Christmas holidays with their friends and family. As is tradition for this time of year, we will be looking back at the year that was in punditry and politics.

We will also be looking to slap some belts on the deserving pundits to mark their achievements for 2007.
pundit of the year

Even though we are wrapping up 2007, that doesn't mean that news is slowing down, actually quite the contrary. The first primary votes in Iowa and Hew Hampshire kick off in early 08'. So there's plenty of punditry and politics to report.

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Merry Christmas APF Supporters

Hello loyal APF readers,
The year is winding down, I hope you've had an enjoyable and prosperous 2007 with more success for the coming year.
I will leave you with some presidential campaign ads following the Christmas theme:
- Fred Thompson
- Mike Huckabee
- John McCain
- Rudy Giuliani
- Ron Paul
- Hillary Clinton
- Barack Obama
- John Edwards
Listen to Shields and Brooks on the Christmas campaign ads.

Notably absent is a Christmas Ad from Mitt Romney. There is however a Christmas themed video on the decision the Romney family had to make on whether to campaign for Presidency back in 2006. Watch video here
VIDEO: The infamous subliminal Mike Huckabee Christmas ad

Saturday, December 22, 2007

God in Politics and Wrestling

The American political system is famously known for its separation of Church and state. That is not to say that there aren't politicians who wear their Religion on their sleeve. The religious right have been a powerful movement and voting bloc for the Republican party. It is this constituency that is credited for twice voting George W Bush into the White House and responsible for Mike Huckabee's surge in the polls.

There is also much faith found in Wrestling. Surprising as wrestling is considered a brutish sport which essentially is about two people beating the heck out of each other. It also has a reputation for drugs and debauchery, standard temptations that come with a road lifestyle. In spite of this there are many prominent wrestlers of faith, well-known Christian wrestlers include: Sting, 'Million Dollar Man' Ted Dibiase and Shawn Michaels.

wrestling with god religion politics The book Wrestling with God (by Chad Bonham) details these "modern day warriors whose lives were dramatically changed by a face-to-face encounter with God - the one and only Master of the Universe".

Whilst faith is considered a solemn exercise. Today I will be highlighting some lighthearted (arguably cynical) uses of faith in Politics and wrestling.

Mike Huckabee getting a call from God, parodying a similar "interruption" that Republican presidential hopeful Rudy Giuliani had with his wife.

VIDEO: Mike Huckabee's call from above

VIDEO: Huckabee puts his success in the polls down to 'divine intervention'

VIDEO: Wrestler Shawn Michaels puts his wrestling victories down to "divine intervention"
Shawn Michaels' faith and strong Christian beliefs is well-documented. Mr. McMahon booked a match for the 'Backlash PPV' pitting himself and son Shane in tag team action against Shawn Michaels partnering with "God".
Read more about the role of God in this match here.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Mike Huckabee Wallpaper - Huckamania!

There's been a lot of Huck lately in the APF. Can you blame me? Apart from the fact he is getting a big push at the moment. He is the only candidate endorsed by a wrestler (Ric Flair) and the term used to describe his popularity is borrowed from wrestling - "Huckamania!".

As the leading voice in Politics AND wrestling, its only fitting that the APF comes to the party with its own Mike Huckabee "Huckamania" wallpaper. It comes in classic red and yellow.

Hulkamania meets Mike Huckabee: Huckamania

Update (Feb 11, 2008): Find new 'Huckamania' wallpapers here.

Follow the links below to read my piece on how Huckabee rose to the top using techniques mirrored in wrestling:
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 1 of 3
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 2 of 3
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 3 of 3

Friday, December 14, 2007

Frank Luntz on the Iowa Democratic debate

Frank Luntz appeared on Hannity and Colmes to discuss John Edward's "victory" at the Iowa democratic debate. Luntz showed off his patented focus group applause-o-meter. However APF pundit Sean Hannity tries to rain on the parade by constantly reminding his viewers of John Edward's "$2000" haircut.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee (part 3 of 3)

Mike Huckabee was an overlooked 2nd tier Republican candidate. While other midcard candidates had claims to fame that were policy related (Duncan Hunter and Tom Tancredo - strong on immigration, Ron Paul - Anti war). Mike's claim to fame was his remarkable weight loss, losing over 110 pounds which he chronicled in his book, "Quit Digging Your Grave with a Knife and Fork: A 12-Stop Program to End Bad Habits and Begin a Healthy Lifestyle". At first glance this may seem like an inconsequential qualification for a person seeking America's highest office. To the contrary. This marked only the beginning Huckabee's campaign, rising from a midcarder to front-running Presidential candidate.

As I detailed in post 2 of 3, appearance counts. Having the right look doesn't apply only to wrestling, it also matters when running for President. Even Al Gore, a sure favourite if he were to throw his hat in the ring cannot escape questions about his would-be presidential appearance. Diane Sawyer once pointedly asked of Gore
“Donna Brazile, your former campaign manager, has said, ‘If he drops 25 to 30 pounds, he’s running.’ Lost any weight?”.

Gore despite enjoying great popularity with his role as Nobel Prize winning environmentalist has his chances of Presidency tethered to his appearance. Read Maureen Dowd's op-ed for more on Gore's appearance. This is the reason why Mike Huckabee's weight loss was not only a significant personal triumph but also a necessary precaution in his bid for presidency.

Whether you're a Presidential candidate or a wrestler, appearance will distinguish you from a contender to a champion.
randy orton muscly skinny contender champion
mike huckabee fat skinny thin presidential

Another thing Mike Huckabee had to work on was his gimmick. Mike is an affable person, a noted public speaker with considerable charisma. An ordained Southern Baptist minister and musician. All the ingredients for a likeable personality but not the name ID or corporate/media backing to get him noticed. Huckabee had to tweak his gimmick, he played to his strength as a "hipper alternative" by getting endorsements from ironically cool celebrities like Action Star Chuck Norris and wrestling great Ric Flair. Mike appeared in a series of ads with Chuck Norris which gave him great exposure outside of political news and was a successful viral campaign online.

The ads were often corny, but Chuck was a compelling endorser that raised Huckabee's profile and likability

To balance this playful side, Huckabee has also effectively cornered the evangelical base of the party by using language and rhetoric that appeals to that audience. Mike has been wooing Evangelical voters using the same viral techniques that served him well in the Chuck Norris campaign. The Washington Post describes a mailing list Mike has tapped into, loosely affiliated with Mel Gibson's Passion of the Christ, read full article here.

A series of religion based videos have been circulating online that play to Mike's religious base:

Mike explaining the Divine help he's getting in the polling

Mike parodies the phone call fellow Frontrunner Rudy Giuliani received mid speech

You will notice I have not credited any of Huckabee's policies or policy shifts to the success of his campaign. Like a wrestler who elevates to championship status, wrestling ability doesn't need to be compromised. Whilst ring technique can be important to some purists, to the large majority of casual fans the appearance of ability is all that is expected. The same follows in politics, policy wonks will argue over the finer points but effective spin can win over casual observers.

When a wrestler tweaks their gimmick, they don't adopt a whole new arsenal of moves. That would be impractical as the wrestler is limited to what they already know. They simply rename their existing set of moves and perhaps add a few embellishments. The same goes for Presidential Candidates. They won't adopt new policies or turn their back on their history completely. They will simply dress up existing policies with new titles and spin to suit their evolved persona.

Mike was often a standout in debates, even when his name ID was low. Huckabee is known for his mic work and for being an exceptional retail politician. This was amplified once he raised his profile. Mike has risen through the ranks using a combination of marketing savvy and genuine charisma. From streamlining his appearance, to using effective gimmickry to capture attention and finally securing voter confidence through his charm. He has risen to the top by effectively using the playbook from wrestling. Its only fitting that he is endorsed by one of the most beloved wrestlers of all time.

Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 1 of 3
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 2 of 3

Find "Huckamania!" posters here and newer ones here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

4 New APF face posters

A treat for all you APF fans- Large face posters of the 4 newest APF pundits. Posters for the rest of the pundits can be found in this previous post. Feel free to use this art in anyway you deem necessary. Drop me a line if you have any suggestions or would like share some of the creative ways you've used the art.

Click to download the images:
Glenn Beck
Michael Savage
Stephanie Miller
Marc Maron

republican, logodemocrat, logocaricature, pundit, Savagemaron, caricature, pundit

Friday, December 7, 2007

The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee (part 2 of 3)

First impressions matter in wrestling. Fans instinctively know if a wrestler has main event (1st tier) potential or will toil as a simple midcarder (2nd tier). These are based on basic human biases. The wrestler's gimmick, stage presence, look and physique are the usual points of judgment, wrestling ability funnily enough is not high on the list.

For a wrestler who is not connecting with the fans, there are several things they can adjust to improve their popularity.

1. Tweaking the persona or gimmick
Gimmicks often don't work when they are inauthentic or too cartoony. A wrestler is served by a gimmick that suits their personality- a gimmick that has original appeal but also one that fans find credible and take seriously. Ideally the transformation is achieved gently, convincingly and organically.

2. Work on appearance - Get bigger!
Almost all successful wrestlers share a musclebound look. Even once a wrestler reaches the pinnacle as champion, you will notice their physique getting larger still. Fans have been conditioned to expect a certain type of look.

Presidential candidates go to similar transformations from their midcard positions as 'smaller town' governors and senators. The Presidential hopefuls tweak their persona and record to appeal better to their national ideological base. Certain actions that were prudent for their region may need to be justified to satisfy the base. Private personality traits that were acceptable may no longer be tolerable for the national audience. In this election, most Republican candidates will have to explain their record on illegal immigration and tax raising which may have been necessary in their locales. For Democrats they may have to explain their actions in regards to the War in Iraq. Expect to see candidates tweaking their personas to broaden their appeal and distance themselves from gimmicks that will not play to the national audience.

While wrestlers build up their physique as they climb for the top. Politicians pad their resumes and strengthen their rhetoric on Foreign policy and National security. They become tougher, more hawkish versions of themselves to convince voters that they are ready to command the military and lead the country.

Wrestlers can get away with certain performances when they occupy the middle of the bill, so to politicians governing smaller cities. There are higher expectations however when they are tasked with being the figurehead of a company or elected to be leader of the free world.

Though the party nominees won't be decided for months still, the candidates and their chances are clearly delineated. Rudy Giuliani (rep), a former Mayor of New York and Time Magazine man of the year is first-tier by name ID and reputation. So too is former first lady and New York Senator Hillary Clinton (dem), previous Presidential campaigners John McCain (rep) and John Edwards (dem) as well new stars Mitt Romney (rep) and Barack Obama (dem). Then there is Fred Thompson, a person who has gained strong name ID largely from his work in Hollywood.

The 2nd tier (midcard) candidates are Bill Richardson and Joe Biden for the Democrats, Ron Paul and Mike Huckabee for the republicans.

All these candidates have clearly defined personas and gimmicks. The fresh faced idealistic senator who is hoping to become the first black President of the United States. The battled hardened war hero, The Mormon, The First Lady-cum-First Woman President, Mr 9/11, Hollywood Fred, the baby faced Robin Hood, the baptist preacher and the Libertarian People's Champion.

One of these 'characters' is riding a wave of popularity that could possibly earn them the Presidential Championship belt. I will be detailing how this rise was achieved in Part 3 of this post

to be continued part 3 of 3

Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 1 of 3
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 3 of 3

Find "Huckamania!" posters here and newer ones here.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee (part 1 of 3)

There is no denying it, Mike Huckabee is a bonafide main-eventer. In a previous post I discussed the two ways characters in wrestling are elevated to main event status:
a) Being pushed by management
b) The overwhelming demand of the people

Casual observers may not realise that wrestling is actually a meritocracy. Whilst there are main event wrestlers who have become so through their connections with management. There are also wrestlers who earn first-tier status by connecting successfully with the audience. Once the people spot a 'star', its in the interests of management to give in to the demand. Careers are elevated and buried at the mercy of management but ultimately it is the people that decide who they want to see. Presidential Politics is no different.

There are establishment darlings, those with strong name ID and powerful corporate backers. Conversely there are the grassroots candidates who manufacture their own buzz. The money crucial to American Politics however makes it difficult for those in the latter category to jump the final hurdle.

Fred Thompson is an example of a candidate anointed into main-event status. In a previous post I spoke of Thompson receiving a 'monster push'. Even before a single day of official campaigning Fred entered the GOP Presidential race as the instant number 2 frontrunner behind only Giuliani. He was seen by many conservatives talkers as a Republican in the Reagan mold. Someone who could provide a better alternative to the flawed candidates currently available. As Thompson hadn't earned his first-tier status from the ground up his objective is to preserve and justify the confidence already bestowed on him.

Mike Huckabee is an example of a candidate who has won the people over from the bottom up. Mike was originally a high second tier candidate behind more famous Republicans, Giuliani, Fred Thompson, Romney and McCain in that order. The grassroots excitement he has generated has made the media shine the spotlight on him. By most accounts he is closing in on the number one spot nationally. This is an astounding achievement - a midcarder outside the top 4 elevating to become the Number 1 GOP contender.

To be a first tier candidate one must look the part. In politics it is known as 'looking Presidential'. They need to have corporate and media backing as well as possessing intangibles like trustworthiness and gravitas. Things that will convince voters to elect them as leader of the free world. In wrestling all would-be champions conform to a criteria. They need to be of a certain size and physique if they are to be believable as World Champions. They also must possess great charisma.

Sometimes wrestlers or politicians will be lacking in one of these areas which is what relegates them to a midcarder (2nd tier). For a wrestler they may not be big enough or lack the right "look". For politicians, they may not have establishment support, endorsement from the pundit class or strong corporate backing.

to be continued in part 2 of 3

Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 2 of 3
Read 'The Rise and Rise of Mike Huckabee' Part 3 of 3

Find "Huckamania!" posters here and newer ones here.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Lou Dobbs smacking down Tim Rutten and the LA Times

In pro wrestling, 'cutting a promo' is the act of getting on the mic and calling out another wrestler. It can be conducted in front of the live audience, in the middle of the ring or spoken direct to camera backstage.

There was a great promo cut by Lou Dobbs yesterday on a "Hack liberal advocate posing as a media critic". Lou is a CNN Anchorman and immigration specialist. He ripped into Tim Rutten of the LA Times for his column (need to register) on CNN's cynical fixation with Immigration.

What is noteworthy about this promo is its the only one I've seen not conducted behind a desk. It's done standing up, like all good wrestler promos.

VIDEO: Lou Dobbs cuts a promo on Tim Rutten and the LA Times

Monday, December 3, 2007

Even more on the YouTube CNN debate

I've been highlighting a lot of the buzz that's been going on surrounding the debate. There's been plenty of it which shows the effectiveness of the debate as a 'main event'.

Here are two more post mortems:
1) Mary Katherine Ham gives the debate a thumbs up. Mary is a Townhall stablemate of Hugh Hewitt who is a BIG Critic of the debate. Read the discussion at HotAir.

VIDEO: Mary Katherine Ham discusses the YouTube debates

2) Famed Republican pollster Frank Luntz gives his verdict on the winners and losers of the debate.
Watch and Download Frank Luntz' post debate analysis on FoxNews. Read the discussion at CrooksandLiars