Friday, October 31, 2008

The Hollywood Presidency: how the 'West Wing' and '24' have shaped this election

geena davis, president, woman, oval office, documentary
I've written extensively about the role Hollywood plays in Politics. 'Mr President', a French Documentary has used this premise to create an interesting portrait of how Hollywood helps us visualise and acclimate us to future Presidents.

- Read more about the 'Mr President' documentary
- Watch a promo for the 'Mr President' documentary

Selected transcript from the promo
The President has been a regular character in hundreds of films and television series... these images are powerful and potentially influential in the real political arena... they have even affected our view of who should or could be President... as America elects its next President, is their a downside to all this fantasy?. "There are consequences that are not captured on celluloid?"

That's 'Mr President' - a look at Hollywood's take on the Oval Office and it's impact on reality.
Read my previous posts on the "Hollywood Presidency"
- George W Bush and Obama: Flight suits and making a Hollywood President: Part 1 and Part 2

Thursday, October 30, 2008

PunditFight presents: The Al Franken Wallpaper

al franken, wallpaper, democrats, minnesota, liberal, senate
This is a non-partisan blog so as with all PunditFight art it should not be taken as an endorsement.

It needs to be said, Al Franken holds a special place in the PunditFight community. He is the only pundit on the APF roster to throw his hat in for public office. He is also the only pundit I know of that has a wrestling background.
Wise-cracking funnyman Al Franken yesterday body-slammed a demonstrator to the ground after the man tried to shout down Gov. Howard Dean... The trouble started when several supporters of fringe presidential candidate Lyndon Larouche began shouting accusations at Dean.

Franken emerged from the crowd and charged one male protester, grabbing him with a bear hug from behind and slamming him onto the floor.

"I was a wrestler so I used a wrestling move," Franken said.
View the full NY Post article in PDF format here.

Lets' not forget he is also a Saturday Night Live alum, making Al Franken a peerless Punditfight Triple Threat.

- Download and disseminate your own Al Franken heads (PDF)
- Read previous postings on Al Franken
- Read Al Franken on the issues, from his official website

PunditFight recommends BloggingHeads and MaronVSeder

PunditFight recommends Bloggingheads.tv. One of the best destinations for Political junkies, demonstrating the advances and promise of technology. It's creators described their motivation thusly:
Wright and Kaus, both journalists, had long been attracted to the idea of pontificating on TV, but so far few if any TV producers had seen merit in this aspiration.
Selected excerpts
Hugh Hewitt & Robert Wright: A Born-Again Experience


Christopher Hitchens & Eric Alterman: On Whether Christopher Hitchens Was Wrong

Find a Pundit listing of previous episodes here

Another equally impressive video program PunditFight recommends is Maron V Seder, two liberal pundits I've had the privilege of interviewing. Their show is described as:
... the first of its kind; a daily, live online political talk and comedy show... "Based upon the fact that no one has developed a model for what we’re doing, we’re confident that people will consider this a success," said Sam Seder.


Find MaronvSeder episode archives here

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Answering the critics: Jesse Ventura, Al Franken and The Terminator

I've talked in the past about hyperreality and the surreal in politics. It's a hurdle Celebrity candidates often need to overcome. As it is a logical point of attack, candidates will often build the critique into their messaging. Hoping to turn a perceived weaknesses to their advantage.

Al Franken - a satirist, SNL alum and former Air America Radio Host has always traveled in Democratic circles. His bid for the Minnesota Senate however has been met with skepticism by voters and every bit of press Franken has received has an underlying arc of "Is he serious?".
a) New York Times - Al Franken, Seriously So
b) The Atlantic Magazine - He’s Not Joking
c) Time Magazine - Not So Funny

Al Franken has effectively used the predictable charge of his "seriousness" by Jujitsu-ing it into a string of talking points.
Those delegates knew that I'm serious... the people of Minnesota are going to get to know me and know that I'm real serious about this. I'm serious about having an Apollo program for renewable energy and energy efficiency. I'm serious about getting to universal health care and I'm serious about getting early childhood education for every kid who needs it.
Al Franken with CNN's Campbell Brown


Arnold Swarchenegger in his bid to be California Governor in 2003 was met with incredulity and much international fanfare. Arnold had originally built his reputation as the Action King of Hollywood, hoping to convert his name into a Governorship under the Republican banner. Though political life might seem an incongruous proposition for the musclebound Austrian, Arnold had married into American Political royalty. His wife Maria Shriver is a member of the storied Kennedy family.

Arnold successfully became Governor by deploying lines that proudly embraced his Action-hero persona. In a debate with fellow Celebrity candidate Arianna Huffington (running as an Independent) Arnold had quips like:
1. "Arianna. Your personal income tax is the biggest loophole. I could drive my Hummer through it." (calling attention to the hypocrisy of Arianna's proposed tax plan)
2. "I have a perfect part for you in 'Terminator 4'" (referencing his popular Action movie serial where he demolishes the opposition)
Read the full article from the New York Times - Live, the 'Arnold and Arianna Show'
Update: Watch Arnold proudly integrating his Bodybuilding and Hollywood past whilst stumping for John McCain

Though never actioned, the award for most audacious use of a candidate's celebrity past goes to Jesse Ventura. One might expect an ex-wrestler to distance themselves from their frivolous past if they were running for President, but Jesse isn't your conventional politician.

In his latest book - Don't Start the Revolution Without Me! - the former Minnesota Governor had planned to run for President by enlisting the help of an unlikely political source. He would run as an independent, planning to get ballot access on all 50 states by using a "fake" Wrestling storyline on WWE television to spawn a "real" presidential bid.

Jesse Ventura explains his ambitious wrestling plot for the Presidency
... the WWE who had been involved in the 'Get out the Vote' movement... would be dissatisfied with both candidates and they were going to run their own candidate which of course would be (WWE owner) Vince [McMahon] ... I would come onto the scene representing the people saying McMahon represents corporate America, he's never held office. I'm a legitimate candidate, I'll take him on... all this time Vince is sending his people out gaining ballot access for his new party across America... at the time of WrestleMania I would announce that this was for real. I am now a candidate for President.
Listen and Download the Ventura excerpt here
Listen and Download the full Jesse Ventura interview from Wrestling-Radio.com

Monday, October 27, 2008

Dean Barnett, 1967-2008

dean barnett, rip, death, cystic fibrosis

Some unfortunate news to report - Conservative commentator Dean Barnett has passed away. Our thoughts and prayers go to his family and loved ones.

You can view a collection of Dean Barnett tributes compiled by his colleagues at the Weekly Standard.

Anyone familiar with Dean's writing and voice knew him as an upbeat person. He was a fairminded yet passionate conservative who was adored and respected by his peers on both sides of the aisle.

Liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald had this to say a few weeks ago:
Dean is one of those very rare advocates on the Right who, despite embracing deeply misguided political views, is almost uniformly honest in his writing and quite amiable in his personal interaction. I developed somewhat of a friendship with Dean... and appeared with him a few times when he guest-hosted The Hugh Hewitt Show, where we argued vigorously though constructively -- the kind of political arguments I wish were more possible.

In 2006, Dean Barnett spoke of the condition that has now taken him -
As I mentioned yesterday and long-time readers know, I have Cystic Fibrosis. CF is a genetic disease, the number one genetic killer in the country. The average age of death is 36. I’m now 39; when I was born in 1967, the life expectancy for a newborn with CF was 8 years.

CF is a strange disease inasmuch as there are 1500 genetic variations of it. That means in an American patient population of 40,000, most “Cystics” are battling essentially different diseases.

Dean continues
... When you see death up close, a couple of things become clear. One is that we all die, and that death is just part of the deal. The other is that life is such a blessing, that’s it just so great, even though you know the inevitable might be near you still want as many bites of the apple as possible...

But regardless, this treatment has given me time - time to spend with my wife and family and friends. Time to hit golf balls (usually sideways, but even that’s alright). Time to chase my dogs around the house. Time that frankly I didn’t expect to have. There could be no greater gift, and it’s a miracle in so many ways.

dean barnett, cystic fibrosis- Read Dean's account of dealing with a chronic illness since birth. The Plucky Smart Kid with the Fatal Disease: A Life with Cystic Fibrosis.
- Learn more about Cystic Fibrosis from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- If you'd like to Make a donation to advance Cystic Fibrosis research consider this

Saturday Night Live characters: Past Presidents, Hillary Clinton and Sarah Palin

saturday night live, amy poehler, lorne michaels
In a revealing panel discussion for The Museum of the Moving Image, key members of the SNL staff spoke on the role the show has played during the Presidential races of the last 30 years.

They recounted SNL Presidential characterizations of the past and touched on various subjects familiar to readers of this blog; The bending of reality when politics and satire collide, charisma and even a Jesse Ventura wrestling reference.

The panel consists of Lorne Michaels (Series creator and executive producer), James Downey (veteran SNL writer), Amy Poehler and Seth Meyers (cast members and Weekend Update co-anchors).

- Listen and Download the 'SNL' and Presidential Politics panel discussion
- View the 'SNL' and Presidential Politics transcript

Selected highlights:
On partisanship and SNL's influence on elections
...You can't think about the fate of Western civilization. You know, we're part of it, but we're not—honestly, nobody's going into the booth, and [saying], "You know I watched SNL and now I'm clear (Laughter) on what to do...
We don't try and deal with it in that grandiose way of what's best for the country. And again, none of this stuff works unless it hits pretty close. You can't go out there and just do a partisan rant. I mean, you can do that if you're on MSNBC (Laughter) but you can't really do it in comedy, because if you lose the audience, you lose them really fast.
On SNL enlisting Jesse Ventura to fill in for Al Gore
[Al] Gore was very much tougher to convince than Bush. Bush was like, "Yeah, I'll do it (Laughter)". Gore... needed a lot of hand holding. Franken interceded because Franken knew him very well, and so we were able to talk him into doing the stuff.

But then we didn't have a "Live from New York" thing... but [Gore thought] "I just don't feel this would be dignified"... we got Jesse Ventura to do the "Live from New York."

... one of our producers, calls the Minnesota governor's office. Jesse's in the background... "They want you to do, 'Live from New York.'" (Gruffly) "Yeah, fine!" (Laughter)... I just knew that if Jesse Ventura could do anything, he could do a "Live from New York." But he did the perfect professional wrestler kind of thing...
On the difficulty comedians may have satirizing Obama
Yes, because he's so fucking smooth! (Laughter) He's like a master jewel thief, like in a 1950's movie, who never leaves any finger prints. No one ever saw anything. No one heard anything. I'm saying he's just really impressive as a figure. I talk to people from other—the South Park guys say the same thing. Other comics and stuff, they go, "Wow. He doesn't have many handles, does he?"

For someone like me, Al Gore was a gift that would keep on giving. (Laughter)... I thought Gore was a much richer thing. Whereas Obama is just—he's tough. And I don't know any one... I've seen people who think they have the handle, but I don't think it's that good...
snl saturday night live presidents clinton bush
'Saturday Night Live' Presidential Bash
Image made with the aid of brilliant SNL resource - SNL Archives
- Watch a video collection of SNL's Presidential impersonations

Friday, October 24, 2008

Real American: Jon Stewart, Sarah Palin and Hulk Hogan

Daily Show: Pfriend or Pfoe


Jon Stewart speaks to the charges made by some in the McCain camp that not all Americans are "Real" Americans:
Nancy Pfotenhauer - McCain Campaign spokesperson
But the rest of the state, real Virginia, if you will, I think will be very responsive to Senator McCain’s message...

Sarah Palin - GOP Vice Presidential Nominee
We believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic very pro-America areas of this great nation...

Congresswoman Michele Bachmann for Minnesota
What I would say is that the news media should do a penetrating expose and take a look. I wish they would. I wish the American media would take a great look at the views of the people in Congress and find out, are they pro-America or anti-America? I think people would love to see an expose like that...

Jon Stewart
You know the third crazy lady is right. Right now you're probably thinking to yourself "Am I one of these Unamericans i'm hearing so much about?"
VIDEO: Watch the original "Real American" - Hulk Hogan

Ironically, Hulk "Real American" Hogan endorses Barack Obama. In fairness Hogan did proclaim this earlier in the year well before Sarah Palin entered the stage.
Watch Hulk Hogan endorsing Barack Obama

Jon Stewart began his rebuke of the "Real American" messaging during a comedy routine at Northeastern University days earlier.
"I can't take it anymore...After eight years of this divisiveness, we're back to this idea that only small-town America is the real America," he said.
- Read a report from The Weekly Standard- Jon Stewart to Sarah Palin: '[Expletive] You.'
- Watch Jon Stewart lambasting Palin at Northeastern University (poor sound)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Barack Obama and John McCain: Personality, temperament and Narrative (Part 2)

>> continued from Part 1

As discussed in a previous post, the personalities of the both Presidential Candidates have been featuring heavily in the closing weeks of this election. In 2004 the personality discussions revolved around who voters would rather have a beer with and how "French" they were. The convictions of both George W Bush and John Kerry were also in question as they were tasked to continue the management of the ongoing War on Terror and occupation in Iraq.

Whilst this year's personality discussions began with Obama's aloof celebrity and McCain's POW biography. It has moved to the serious question of the candidate's 'Character' and 'Temperament', as the would-be Presidents are confronted with the challenge that will consume their first years in the White House - The Global Financial crisis.

NPR's 'All things Considered' profiled the temperaments of both Presidential candidates:
In a presidential election, candidates spar about issues. But in the end, voters make a decision about character. Who do they believe is better suited to lead the country?
McCain's Temperament Shaped By Vietnam, Senate by Mara Liasson
McCain's own temperament has been dissected by authors, political analysts, opponents and McCain himself — who has recounted how he started out as a cocky, rebellious Navy flyer who proudly collected hundreds of demerits at the Naval Academy.

"As a young man, I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone whom I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect," he said...
Even-Keeled Obama Built Image On Bridging Divides by Mara Liasson
Barack Obama's temperament is famously unflappable. He has reacted with characteristic cool and caution to the Wall Street financial crisis, holding back at times while his rival charged ahead.

His campaign mantra is "No Drama Obama..."
- Listen to the full audio on McCain's temperament
- Listen to the full audio on Obama's temperament

PBS Newshour also does a feature on how both Candidates' personalities inform their leadership and decision-making style:

Confidence, Openness Mark Obama's Decision Making Style
"He listens to various viewpoints. He elicits dissenting views. He weighs those rationally and pragmatically. But then he tends to make a relatively swift and clear decision."- Susan Rice, Obama Campaign Adviser



McCain Blends Instinct With Political Calculation
"He believes in his party, but he's more than happy to cross the aisle. And he does it all the time to the anguish of those who demand party unity."- Mark Buse, Chief of Staff for McCain



- Read the report transcript of Obama's decision making
- Read the report transcript of McCain's decision making

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The similarities between Sarah Palin and Barack Obama

sarah palin barack obama basketball
Whilst Barack Obama & Sarah Palin are vastly different in their world views and temperament, both are remarkably similar in many ways. The first of which is their 'mass appeal'...

work in progress

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Barack Obama and John McCain: Personality, temperament and Narrative (Part 1)

Personality has played a big part this election season. A few months ago it was considered the wrong field to play on for Barack Obama, no doubt fearful of the "who would you rather have a beer with?" personality test that foiled Democratic nominee John Kerry the previous election.


Obama: 'Not about the issues' comment means making stuff up
The Illinois senator said he’s not running for president for his “pretty good personality” and that it’s a sign Republicans intend to scare voters away from him...

“I mean I think I’ve got a pretty good personality! But that’s not why I am running for president,” Obama said, later adding, “If you want it to be about personalities, you know, we’ll go out for a beer sometime and we’ll talk but you know you don’t have time, you’d rather spend it with your family.”

Personality has suddenly become a valid test for the Presidency - disguised as "narratives" and euphemistically called "Character" and "Temperament". Things have turned the last few weeks as Barack's "cool under pressure" demeanor has impressed the electorate relative to McCain's "erratic" appearance. Even before this was crystallized during the Presidential dry run of the Global Economic crises, one could argue the Obama campaign was surreptitiously always about personality if his top Media adviser David Axelrod is anything to go by
The Sixty-Day War - John Heilemann
In the trade, Axelrod is known for being averse to issues and policy, for preferring to focus on softer qualities of character, biography. “His brilliance is his ability to communicate emotionally with voters about his candidates, to bring out what makes them personally compelling and drive a larger narrative based on that,” says Hillary Clinton’s former communications czar, Howard Wolfson.

The Latest issue of Time Magazine features "Temperament" in its cover article.
obama, mccain, temperament, personality, time magazine
The Temperament Factor: Who's Best Suited to the Job? - Nancy Gibbs
...full-blown clichés. Obama is aloof, self-possessed, cool under fire; McCain is passionate, impetuous, hot under the collar. Each one makes a virtue of his temperament as the right setting for the current climate. Americans, McCain says, "expect me to get angry, and I will get angry, because I won't stand for corruption." His impulsive intervention in the bailout negotiations suited his narrative as an action hero...

Ironically Barack Obama is fighting the personality war with John McCain the same way John Kerry fought it with George w Bush. Calculating this time it will work to the Democrat's favor.

Conservative defectors Christopher Buckley, David Brooks, Heather Mac Donald, Colin Powell among others have all used words like "intellectual curiosity", "depth of knowledge", "intellectual vigor". Silently coded as a contrast and welcome departure from the George W Bush' personality type.

As counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke commented on serving under George W Bush
The Choice 2004 - Decision making style
He doesn't reach out, typically, for a lot of experts. He has a very narrow, regulated, highly regimented set of channels to get advice.

One of the first things we were told was, "Don't write a lot of briefing papers. Don't make the briefing papers very long, because this president is not a reader. He likes oral briefings... He's not into big meetings, and he's not into big briefing books."

We will know in two weeks which personality America prefers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

James Ponziewozik: Tina Fey and Sarah Palin on SNL

VIDEO: Sarah Palin on Saturday Night Live (October 19, 2008)

It's official. NBC's 'Saturday Night Live' is THE most influential Comedy/Politics show this election year, rivaling McCain and Hillary as one of the great comeback stories this election cycle. I would hope Stephen Colbert makes hay of SNL usurping his "most influential" status, similar to his challenge of Korean popstar Rain who previously upstaged him.

The latest Coup for SNL - a Sarah Palin cameo. The popular conservative GOP Vice Presidential candidate has been most notable for her scarce and underwhelming performances on the mainstream news stations. Interestingly this is what has fed into SNL's 'Parody Sarah Palin' as embodied by SNL alum Tina Fey.

Time Magazine's James Poniewozik has written several pieces on the two Sarah Palins - 'The Public Palin' (controlled by Fey) and the 'Real Palin'.

Prior to the unveiling of Palin's first appearance on SNL, James speaks to how Sarah Palin and the McCain camp should handle SNL's shaping of her image.
Palin vs. "Palin": When SNL Parody Becomes Campaign Reality
It's hard to tell where Tina Fey ends and Sarah Palin begins. Even before Fey lampooned Palin on Saturday Night Live--the updo, the wink, the syntax--people noted the resemblance. And for a politician new to the national stage, being likened to the intelligent, witty, popular Fey was not exactly a bad thing.

Until now, anyway. The governor's comedian doppelgänger has essentially taken control of Public Sarah Palin: the composite of images, biography and attitudes that stands in for the actual person in voters' minds...
James Poniewozik offers a prescription and a positive spin on her hijacked image
But if this is not the Public Sarah Palin her campaign would have wanted, it may be useful to Real Sarah Palin yet.

First, the damage. The brilliance of Fey's Palin is how closely it matches Real Sarah Palin. Not physically or in her accent... It's the extent to which Fey uses Palin's words. Spoofing... with Palin's actual meandering phrases...

So what's a Real Sarah Palin to do? First, she has sensibly laughed it off... She may even go on SNL, perhaps by the time you read this.

But SNL may also have given her cover on the campaign trail. Fey's Palin is no love letter--falsely confident, hapless, antiscience and calculatedly adorable--but she's harmless compared with the Real Palin we've seen lately: a culture warrior cannily playing on resentments, a mouthpiece for the McCain campaign's ugliest character attacks on Barack Obama.
Read Poniewozik's previous Palin/Fey article - Tina Fey: Palin's Worst Enemy or Best Friend?
Read reservation of Palin's SNL appearance from the Huffington Post- Palin on SNL? Not Without Preconditions!
Sarah Palin wasn't the only SNL target that went on the show to defuse any harm to their image

Amy Poehler raps on behalf of Sarah Palin

Friday, October 17, 2008

Alfred E. Smith Dinner: Barack Obama and John McCain roast each other

After the combat of the Presidential debates and the rancor of the last few weeks it's nice to see some levity between the two Presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain.

Both spoke at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner, roasting their opponents and themselves. You could almost say it was a reverse debate, every meme forwarded in the blogs and media from Obama's celebrity, his big ears, his "palling with terrorists", the "Greek columns" and more were self deprecatingly brought up by the Senator himself. By acknowledging the meme and making light of it, it (if only momentarily) took the sting out of them.

For McCain the memes he referenced were his 7 houses, his likeness to George W Bush, his campaign's pandering to 'Joe the Plumber' and the strained ties he's had within his own Party. Wait for the end of McCain's full speech as he parodies how Obama is perceived to eclipse everything McCain does.
I'm proud to count myself as your friend and ally. With that, with that, my friends, let me make way for my opponent, who tonight is making a comedy debut that I guess we could call the final test of this campaign...

But I do need to warn you, ladies and gentlemen, you all are about to witness the funniest performance in history...

Watch excerpts from the Dinner below
Barack Obama roasts McCain - Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner


John McCain roasts Obama - Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner



Read the full transcript of both speeches here

More about the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation Dinner
Although both his state and his country generously honored Alfred E. Smith after his death in 1944, the most unusual and notable memorial to him has been an ongoing series of black-tie dinners. Sponsored by the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Foundation, these annual fêtes were initiated by then-Archbishop (later Cardinal) Francis J. Spellman of the Archdiocese of New York in 1945. Since that time the Foundation has raised millions of dollars for healthcare causes.

Read Alfred E. Smith's biography

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Third Presidential debate - Pundit Roundup with Full video

barack obama, john mccain, debate, hofstra, third
Presidential Debate III: Barack Obama VS John McCain
As is ritual after every debate - a roundup from the APF pundits (all conservatives so far)

Michelle Malkin on the final Presidential Debate
Debate wrap-up: Senator Government vs. Johnny Mac and Joe the Plumber
Joe Wurzelbacher the Plumber was a heaven-sent gift for the McCain campaign, and for once, McCain didn’t flub the opportunity to rub the infamous “spread the wealth around” line in Obama’s smug face. Obama’s tin-ear response? Citing his billionaire “friend” Warren Buffett!
The best line of the night may have been unplanned (or maybe not)? In jabbing Obama’s spend-spend-spend plans, McCain called him “Senator Government.”
Mark Levin on the final Presidential Debate
Something New
He's not going to change his position on some issues where we conservatives disagree with him tonight, but he is scoring big.
Hugh Hewitt on the final Presidential debate
The Joe The Plumber Debate: McCain Scores and "Senator Government" Stumbles
Thank you, Joe W., America's plumber, wherever you are. He must be a Browns fan.
McCain scored big with the Joe the plumber exchanges, and with the campaign tactics exchange. ... McCain accomplished more in just the first half of the debate than he did in the first two debates total, and the second half was just as good for him. "Spread the wealth" is now the Obama brand, and that can move the polls.
Read Hugh's patented Presidential Debate scorecard

VIDEO: Third and final Presidential Debate between Barack Obama and John McCain

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fight on the Right: Laura Ingraham vs Heather Mac Donald

In the last week there have been a string of prominent Conservative pundits airing strong reservation against the McCain/Palin candidacy with tacit endorsement of the Democratic nominee Barack Obama. The timing of these public objections prior to the final debate is notable as it serves to undermine any gains McCain might from the encounter and further deflates further his already sagging campaign.

Heather Mac Donald is one of a parade of conservative critics.

In a post for City Journal Heather writes:
Gettin’ All Mavericky by Heather Mac Donald
There was a time, however, when conservatives upheld adult standards—such as clarity of speech and thought—without apology, even in the face of the relentless downward pull of adolescent culture. But now, when a vice-presidential candidate talks like a teenager, mugs like an American Idol contestant, and traffics in syntactical dead-ends and non sequiturs, we are supposed to find her charming and authentic.
APF pundit Laura Ingraham invited Heather Mac Donald for a spirited debate and to explain her piece. Laura and Heather clearly have mutual respect for each other and they are pained by they're contradicting stances.
Listen and download the showdown between Laura Ingraham and Heather Mac Donald

Heather's appraisal of Sarah Palin
I think conservatives are just trying to beat liberals in their own game. When she was first nominated, she presented herself as the continuation of Hillary Clinton... "women are going to break the glass ceiling, we're not done yet"... since then we've had an expansion of the gender politics to lifestyle politics where she's being celebrated for being so normal... these are all fine traits... but they do not constitute qualification for the Presidency
Heather's tacit endorsement of Obama
I feel that Obama has the capacity to think through issues that makes me have confidence that he's going to be able to take on the hard issues of the economy and possibly foreign policy... I for one, I have not come out for Obama and it's not the issues alone. It's the capacity to make judgment under pressure...
Laura Ingraham is vigorous in her critique of Obama and comes to the defense of Sarah Palin
... whatever you say about Sarah Palin. I think what we know about her is that she has conservative impulses, that she thinks government has gotten too big. She thinks these institutions need to be reformed for the betterment of our country and our people and that framework I think is what people like about her Heather. Not the "golly gee", "Shucks", "say it ain't so Joe". I mean that's not why I like Palin, not because of the down home stuff. I like Palin because she's closer to my political philosophy than Barack Obama could ever hope to be
Read the disucssion from HotAir - Audio: Laura Ingraham versus Heather MacDonald on Palin and identity politics

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Third and Final Presidential Debate: William Ayers and the Economy

obama, william ayers, mccain, third debate, economy, wrestlemania
WrestleMania III = William Ayers III or Wall St, Main St III
The 3rd and final Presidential debate between Barack Obama (D) and John McCain (R) will be contested at Hofstra University, New York. It will be held on Wednesday October 15th and moderated by CBS News' Bob Schieffer.

The issue that dominates the news entering into this debate and tipped to remain the frontburner issue for the incoming President remains the economy and the global financial crisis. The other main storyline entering into this final debate is the McCain camps' pressing of Barack Obama's association with 60's domestic terrorist William Ayers. This was a prominent storyline entering into the previous Town Hall debate however McCain supporters were puzzled and frustrated by McCain's failure to inject it into the discussion. Joe Biden and Barack Obama have challenged McCain to be a man and air those grievances "by looking him in the eye and saying it" to Obama's face.

It's the 3rd debate. There are two highly anticipated subjects on the board. The serious implications of Global Financial crisis - "Wall Street and Main Street" and the elephant in the room - "William Ayers".
Without further adieu...

Will John McCain, Barack Obama or Moderator Bob Schieffer inject William Ayers into the debate?
obama, william ayers, mccain, third debate, economy, wrestlemania
Hofstra University Debate '08 - Barack Obama VS John McCain:
William Ayers III
or will it remain focused on the American Economy and the Global financial crisis as with the first 2 debates?
obama, william ayers, mccain, third debate, economy, wrestlemania
Hofstra University Debate '08 - Barack Obama VS John McCain:
Wall St, Main St III

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Al Franken - The Road to the Minnesota Senate

Al Franken has always found politics his calling. He has telegraphed this by by parodying it his entire career. In 1999 he published a book Why Not Me?: The Inside Story of the Making and Unmaking of the Franken Presidency , parodying several forms of political media created by and for a hypothetical President Franken - the Campaign diary, strategist's memo, the Bob Woodward expose amongst other.

In his latest book, 'The Truth (with jokes)' published in 2005, Franken closes the book with a satirical epilogue - "A Letter to My Grandchildren". In this chapter he recounts the Bush years and its fanciful proceedings to his fictional grandchildren.
Franken writes:
...Dad loved comedians, and I guess that might be why I became one. That's right. Before i got so involved in politics, I was a comedian. Then I wrote my first political book... my books made me realize that maybe I could have an effect on things that I cared about. That's why I went into radio. And that's why eventually decided to run for the Senate, although I didn't make the final decision until 2007.

True to the script, Franken on his final show for Air America Radio (Feb 2007) formally announced he would run for Minnesota's Senate seat in 2008. It's interesting to note that even though Franken is satirically describing a fictional future he lucidly describes the campaign platform he runs on and the bills he passes (and with whom - Sherwood Boehlert R-NY).

Despite his comedic history, Franken has always been earnest in his political pursuit. Almost by necessity.

He acknowledged the skepticism in his Introductory Video Address
I’m not a typical politician. I’ve spent my career as a comedian. Minnesotans have a right to be skeptical about whether I’m ready for this challenge, and to wonder how seriously I would take the responsibility that I’m asking you to give me.

I want you to know: nothing means more to me than making government work better for the working families of this state, and over the next twenty months I look forward to proving to you that I take these issues seriously...

I may be a comedian by trade, but I’m passionate about the issues that matter to your family because they mattered to mine, too...
Thanks for listening, and I’ll see you on the trail.

- Read the transcript of Al's Video message
- Watch Franken's Introduction video in full

Franken has always been mindful of the skepticism due to his "celebrity" and "comedic" reputation. In a previous post I detailed Franken's conscious decision not to appear on Saturday Night Live despite it being venue with considerable political cache (especially this election) and the place where he built his career. Franken knows an SNL appearance would only cause confusion.
"We have to do everything so people understand that this is a real campaign and not just a conceptual-art piece"


Al Franken was notably absent from a speaking role during the Democratic National Convention. It's uncertain why he wasn't invited but in any case it allowed him to return to his voters in Minnesota
Franken spokesman Andy Barr said Franken will fly into Denver on Sunday night, in time for Monday's convention opener, and will return to Minnesota the following day, spending much of the week at the Minnesota State Fair.

Barr said that the Franken campaign did not ask for a speaking slot and that while Franken would accept one if offered, "we don't think it's going to happen."

The Minnesota delegation were torn with Franken's decision to return home
Minnesota Super delegate... Jackie Stevenson... said it's hard for her to understand why Franken would turn down a convention speaking opportunity.

Stevenson said she would have told Franken he needed this experience and that he needed to be seen doing this nationally...

Delegate Mira Vat Fournier of Fairbault said she wasn't about to second guess Franken's decision. Fournier also said she thinks Franken is an asset to the party and hardly the liability in rural Minnesota some Franken detractors insist Franken is.

Read the full article here

It seems there is a lot more than meets the eye concerning Al Franken. MSNBCs Political News director Chuck Todd relays whispers behind Democratic Party walls

I have had multiple very high level Democrats on the Hill sit there with their fingers crossed," Todd says. "They are scared of Franken winning. More importantly, they fear that if Franken wins, then every liberal Hollywood type is going to say, 'Hey, I can run for office, too.' And they are going to get a rush of these.

Read a full discussion from HotAir - Chuck Todd: Top Democrats want Franken to lose

Whilst it's an understandable fear, as I've stated with my posts on Hollywood Politicians there is little that is exceptional about it. Republicans have had a history of electing Hollywood politicians: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Fred Thompson and the ultimate standard bearer Ronald Reagan. Minnesota, seat Franken is running for has already set the precedent by electing the former Wrestler/Actor/Navy Seal Jesse Ventura as Governor. As Franken has demonstrated, "celebrity" candidates will need to work extra hard to convince voters of their seriousness.

Of the Hollywood types that have come before him, Franken fits the Fred Thompson mold more than the Swarchnegger/Ventura archetype - wonky and with surprisingly little showmanship. We will know whether Frankens' script becomes reality in a month's time.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Get well Dean Barnett, our thoughts are with you

I had the great pleasure of interviewing Conservative pundit Dean Barnett recently. Dean, an avid wrestling fan was the first person to give this humble blog national attention.

It has only recently come to my attention that he is in hospital and in need of our prayers and well wishes.

Courtesy of HotAir - Dean Barnett update
Dean Barnett update
Earlier this week, I wrote about Dean Barnett’s current struggle with cystic fibrosis and how it landed him in the ICU...

Duane Patterson e-mailed me a little earlier this evening with an update he received on Dean’s status, which sounds a little more optimistic than we’d previously heard:
Dean still in fragile state on a breathing machine in ICU. He is very willful and is fighting hard – the doctors are so impressed with him. His downward spiral stopped on Thursday, and we hope that with the continued prayers he will turn a corner this week end. He is in and out of consciousness.

- Learn about Cystic Fibrosis from the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation
- If you'd like to Make a donation to advance Cystic Fibrosis research consider this

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Palin, McCain, Obama and Biden Wallpaper

palin, obama, mccain, wallpaper, biden,a rt
Palin, Biden, McCain, Obama Wallpapers
Hello regular readers, newcomers and fight fans. Just drawing attention to the APF's Flickr Page - also permanently available on the 'Links' Bar to the right.

It features all the art I've created for the PunditFight site. These include Pundit profiles, Primary PPV posters and Presidential Election Posters including the popular Sarah Palin Wallpapers.

Download Presidential Art Compilation wallpaper - 1280 x 1024
Download Presidential Art Compilation wallpaper - 1024 x 768
Download Presidential Art Compilation wallpaper - 800 x 600

Second Presidential Debate - Pundit Roundup and video

belmont, second debate, obama, mccain
Belmont University Debate '08: Barack Obama VS John McCain II
This is usually the part where I roundup initial impressions from the APF pundits on the Presidential debates.

The silence here is deafening. The pundits I usually rely on to provide prompt assessments have been notably lacksadaisical and unenthused.

Sam Seder on McCain - Not for nothing
without weighing in on the safety of nuclear power.. a three time cancer patient saying I worked on a nuke sub and it did nothing to me doesn't inspire confidence
Michelle Malkin on McCain's performance
Liveblogging the town hall debate: Zzzzzzzz
McCain-Bush, McCain-Bush.
Sarah Palin was so much more effective at defusing this talking point in her debate.
McCain is doing…nothing.
Except: “My friends, my friends, my friends, my friends.”...
No mention of Ayers. No mention of ACORN. Not even the feeblest attempt to expose Obama’s radical roots.
Disaster.
The always reliable Hugh Hewitt provides his patented Debate scorecard. Read Hugh's in-depth debate appraisal - President Barack Hoover.

The main storyline coming out of the debate is what didn't happen for McCain. The McCain camp has tried to reframe the Presidential race by turning it into a referendum on Obama's character. It was the main storyline entering the debate and signals what the scramble will look like as the November election approaches. The timing of the renewed focus on Obama's character seems a little off. The TownHall debate is one of the remaining national viewing drawcards but it didn't allow McCain to deliver on the narrative. In boxing/wrestling terms, you had a lot of hostilities during the weigh-in and press conference but when you tuned in to the PPV... nothing. Civility means the American people win but the pundits have nothing to talk about.

Character attacks don't play well in a dueling TownHall settings when the focus is 'feeling the audience's (people's) pain '. Another factor as Scott Horsley explained on the NewsHour is the "Awkward factor" of negative personal attacks in a Town-hall setting.
It's tough to level those kind of hardening charges, though, when Senator Obama is standing right by your side and when you're in a room full of people.
Ironically all debates have the opponents standing side by side and a "room full of people". The change is in the context. The tight quarters, the physical intimacy - whilst it creates the feeling of a "Fight club" or wrestling ring (complete with tables and chairs) it's actually the opposite. The deliberate audience makeup of self-professed independents makes it less conducive for throwing punches.

You will notice there was some stand-offishness on the part of Obama not shaking McCain's hand after the debate.

The storyline as captured by The Corner on National review

Tonight by Rich Lowry
Obama, meanwhile, just has to appear plausible and he did. In fact, he's a kind of genius at appearing plausible...
You Guys Are Nuts by Andy McCarthy
Now, as the night went along, did you get the impression that Obama comes from the radical Left?... Great. Memo to McCain Campaign: Someone is either a terrorist sympathizer or he isn't; someone is either disqualified as a terrorist sympathizer or he's qualified for public office. You helped portray Obama as a clearly qualified presidential candidate who would fight terrorists...
Andy's Right by Lisa Schiffren
we have all spent the past few weeks understanding the history and implications of the Obama-Ayers... It would have been awkward to insert that stuff in this format. It would have risked making McCain look oddly hostile and combative If the McCain campaign is serious about winning, they have to get this stuff out...
VIDEO: Second 2008 Presidential Debate

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Barack Obama and John McCain Town Hall debate

The second of three Presidential debates will be held tonight, October 7 2008. It will be a "Town Hall" style debate held in Belmont University's Curb Event Center in Nashville, Tennessee.
The rules as follows:
- It will be Moderated by NBC's Tom Brokaw
- The questions culled from a group uncommitted likely voters in the audience and another one-third from the Internet
- Gallup are tasked with ensuring that the questioners selected reflect the national demographic
- Audience members will ask predetermined questions with no follow-up. The questioner's reactions will not be seen or heard. The moderator cannot ask a followup question nor make comments.
- The candidate's will have designated area where they must stay within. Seats are provided but they may stand.
- The candidate's are not permitted to ask each other questions.
- The stips were agreed upon by both campaigns in partnership with the debate commission.
Read the rule overview from Chicago Sun Times - McCain, Obama deal puts limits on "town hall" debate
Read the Belmont Debate FAQ here

You'd be forgiven for not realising there was a debate coming as the news has focused largely on the serious state of the world Economy. The recent news focus has also been on the descent of civility in both campaigns as the November election looms and McCain trailing, his campaign having to take off the gloves as they scramble for parity.

Interestingly the negativity can be linked to TownHall debates if we are to take McCain's words at face value. In June, he suggested the reason his campaign went negative was due to his opponent's refusal to engage in a series of Town Hall meeting as McCain insisted. Speaking on 'The View', McCain said:
"If we had done what I asked Sen. Obama to do, I don't think you'd see the same tenor of this campaign," he said. "Why don't you ask Obama the next time he's on this show why won't he be in town meetings with me?"
Read the full report from CNN

The rough and tumble TownHall debate format might have ordinarily suited McCain in this new "no-holds barred" climate. But this is a different beast, defanged and tightly defined by both camps under the purview of the Debate Commission . This debate is unlikely to bring out the tables, chairs and foreign objects McCain might need.

As featured previously, a caller speaking to APF pundit Pete Dominick offered this assessment:
PETE DOMINICK: ...Barack Obama why is he refusing to do these Town Hall meetings with John McCain...?
CALLER: I believe the Republican party love to fight in the trenches... I don't see Barack wanting to fight. The American people are like "we believe in the WWF, American football and in your face style...
Listen to the audio here

Below is a new wallpaper featuring John McCain, Sarah Palin, Barack Obama and Joe biden.
john mccain, barack obama, sarah palin, joe biden, town hall, debate, wallpaper
McCain/Palin VS Obama/Biden Wallpaper

Monday, October 6, 2008

PunditFight interview: A conversation with Dean Barnett

Sam Seder, Interview

Dean Barnett is a conservative pundit best known as Hugh Hewitt's fill-in host and staff writer for the Weekly Standard. Interestingly his rise as pundit mirrors the ascent of a rising star Vice Presidential nominee. A relative unknown, Dean was nationally introduced after being tapped by a silver-haired veteran to be his backup. Dean embodies the everyman made good, a regular "Joe six-pack abs" and Baseball dad.

Dean a lifelong Bostonian began as a businessman, running for State Representative at the age of 25. He operated a popular personal blog - SoxBlog, offering his thoughts on current affairs and his beloved Boston Red Sox. Conservative Radio Talker Hugh Hewitt would later invite Dean to be his co-blogger on HughHewitt.com. When Dean saw that Hugh needed a guest host he matter-of-factly suggested "I'd like to try my hand at that" despite readily admitting he never "listened to a lot of Talk Radio". The rest as they say is history.

Our conversation is simply two regular guys talking politics, wrestling and punditry. We touch on Dean's segments with liberal blogger Glenn Greenwald and the state of partisanship, the success of John McCain and his hope for Mitt Romney.

Bonus game:
Hugh Hewitt listeners will be familiar with his patented "Barack Obama uhm counter". I've ingeniously incorporated a similar game in my conversation with Dean. A free Sarah Palin wallpaper to the person who correctly guesses the number of "uhms" uttered in our conversation. Hands on your buzzers.








Dean on the state of partisanship and why he welcomes liberals like blogger Glenn Greenwald on his show
I live in Boston which is a very liberal city. I’m pretty much a lifelong Bostonian which means that my politics is out of step with most of my neighbours, most of my friends and whatnot. I get along with people who’s politics I don’t like and don’t like my politics. So I don’t see why that can’t be the same on the Radio. Glenn Greenwald and I don’t agree with a lot politically, but I think he’s a good guy. I enjoy talking to him, I think he’s a pretty thoughtful guy. There’s no reason why we have to dislike each other even though we don’t particularly care about each other’s politics.

I’m not exactly sure how it started. It may have started when I invited him onto the show out of the clear blue sky. I’m not sure if we had exchanged any emails before then. Relatively speaking I like his blog. He’s obviously a very thoughtful, a very honest and smart guy.
I have no problem inviting guests on the show I disagree with.


Dean on the role personality and likability play in politics
To use your wrestling analogy, on the one hand you’re born with what you’re born with. On the other hand there’s a craft of getting through to people. You look at some wrestlers who get so much better – look at Hulk Hogan in his initial incarnation didn’t go over at all. But in his latest incarnation after Rocky III he was the biggest thing since sliced bread. They can develop their craft to become better and better. I think the same is true of politicians. They can learn what works, they can learn what doesn’t work they stay away from their weaknesses, they can emphasize their strengths. As you point out there is no substitute for - if you’ve got someone who can deliver a speech like Barack Obama, if you’ve got someone with the charisma and personal appeal of Sarah Palin. That’s being born on third base in a political sense with that kind of talent.

You look at a guy like John McCain who’s gone as far as he has, which is very far without any of those talents. But there’s a huge advantage for someone like Obama or Palin actually having those gifts.

Read full transcript here

- Listen to Dean Barnett endorsing this blog's contention that Bill Kristol is a wrestling-style villain (heel)
- View Dean Barnett's Pundit Profile

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Fact checking Biden and Palin during the Vice Presidential debate

I wrote recently about debate success being measured on likability and believability rather than the grasp of facts. Read here - Sarah Palin VS Joe Biden: Who won?
Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg has written a few posts echoing this sentiment
Quick Reax Oct 3, 2008
What struck me the most about the debate... was how Biden’s "gravitas" is derived almost entirely from the fact that he can lie with absolute passion and conviction. He just plain made stuff up tonight...
It's amazing how the impulse to see Biden as the more qualified and serious guy stems almost entirely from his ability to be a convincing b.s. artist. I'm not saying Palin was always honest or unrehearsed, but when she offers up a catchphrase or a talking point, you can tell. When Biden spews up a warm fog of deceitful gassbaggery the response seems to be "what a great grasp of the issues he has!"
Jonah continues the same charge, reminding that he doesn't absolve Sarah Palin
B.S. is an Abbreviation for "Biden Says" Oct 3, 2008
Jake Tapper saw no reason to single out Biden. Bernard Goldberg (no relation) said on F&F (Fox and Friends) that Biden had a greater grasp of the facts, which may be objectively true but he also has a much greater grasp of nonsense he just makes up as he goes along.

And, again, I never said that Palin was pure. My point is that Biden showed himself to an exceptionally facile liar. He makes stuff up with great passion, conviction and seeming command of the substance. So it just bugs me when people say he's better on the substance. I could be a great physicist if I'm not held to a requirement to be factually correct;
The fast paced nature of debates coupled with the citing of often convoluted records mean that truth will often be stretched. Any egregious mistruths will no doubt be corrected by the media, in opposition ads and speeches and in the blogospere. Otherwise they're quickly forgotten.

Ultimately debates are remembered by the impressions they leave on the night. An exasperated Jonah Goldberg concludes
...it will go down the memory hole, it just doesn't matter. Joe Biden is a mater of the substance and Palin is a rookie who did better than expected. That's how this debate will be remembered, alas.
I encourage readers look at the campaign and opposition followups as well non-partisan analysis of the debates
This from FactCheck.org - FactChecking Biden-Palin Debate

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Marc Ambinder: Wrestling with Politics

As the leading resource for it, it's always heartening to see other people identifying the analogy that politics is not unlike wrestling. The comparison undoubtedly predates my blog and it's a reality that I hope people factor when digesting political news and punditry.

The latest piece featuring the parallels between politics and wrestling comes from the WWE itself. The piece features some familiar points as voiced by Marc Ambinder of 'The Atlantic'.
Wrestling with Politics by Greg Adkins
... the screaming acolytes and tremendous pageantry... substantiate a truism that political analyst Marc Ambinder has known for quite some time: politics and professional wrestling are often separated by nothing more than a thin, red ring rope...

"When staged correctly, both [politics and pro wrestling] can be mesmerizing," says Armbinder, a lifelong WWE fan, an associate editor at Atlantic Monthly magazine and the chief political consultant for CBS News...
Read the piece in full from the WWE site

Friday, October 3, 2008

Watch the full Vice Presidential debate with Pundit Roundup

A collection of opinions from APF pundits:

Mark Levin on the VP Debate
Palin Tonight
I have been involved in and observed politics for a long time. Governor Palin is a truly unique national figure. She is down to earth, personable, and smart as hell. That's right. She has been on the national scene for a little over a month... and she has shown class throughout. Too often too many are persuaded by the mainstream media's opinion and react to that...She is the bright light in this campaign from my perspective.
Sam Seder on the VP Debate
Super Pundit
Because I want to be considered a seer... spin will call it a draw or so, but Biden set a couple of traps and Palin fell into them there has been two or three issues Biden forced her to state a position which will come back to bite her and mccain in the rear... Palin hasn't embarassed herself but I have to say despite my issues with Biden over the years he has been stellar tonight
Hugh Hewitt, as always comprehensive and prompt with his analysis
Sarah 2.0 Wonderful
After the wave of assaults on her , Sarah Palin shows the nation why John McCain picked her and why the center-right loves her. She has a great night. Joe Biden does well too, but this was all about Sarah Palin, and she delivered a strong, strong message of energy and change... She is back as the GOP's best weapon in Election '08.
Hugh Hewitt's patented live Debate scorecard

Michelle Malkin on the debate
Sarah Rocks
First, I would like to see all the Sarah doubters and detractors in the Beltway/Manhattan corridor eat their words.

Eat them...

She was warm, fresh, funny, confident, energetic, personable, relentless, and on message... she exuded the sunny optimism that energized the base in the first place.
VIDEO: Watch the Vice Presidential debate in full
Courtesy of C-SPAN

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Sarah Palin VS Joe Biden: Who won?

After watching the debates family members will usually ask me "Who won?". I for one don't think it can be measured that way.

The reason why I prefer the wrestling analogy (instead of sports let's say) applied to politics is because there's never really a winner in the conventional sense. It isn't like a foot race where the better athlete crosses the finishes line first. It's more like a popularity contest where a contestant is crowned for being the most likable. It's a different set of intangibles all together with any victory provisional. Gaffes and knockout punches might play a factor but that is contingent on the viewer being knowledgeable on the issues. Remember a speaker can stretch the truth with little consequence if the viewer doesn't examine it critically.

What is an easier question and far more visceral is "Who did you like more?". So instead of the question being "Who has more depth?" or "Who was being disingenuous?". The question then becomes "who was more likable in showing their depth?"

As it relates to wrestling and punditry I've called this 'Managing aura'.
Read the original post - Aura: How pundits and politicians preserve their image Part 1 and Part 2

I touched on the subject of projecting strength regardless of outcome in a post on the Democratic Primary - The Democratic Primary: How should Barack and Hillary finish it?
In wrestling, a wrestler's value hinges on how they gain and preserve their Aura. As there can only be one winner, the trick is in managing defeat in a way that allows a wrestler to preserve their aura. In this way both contenders regardless of how they fared can come out of the match strong.
sarah palin, vice presidential debate, joe bidenFor what its worth, the record will show Sarah Palin won the same way Obama won. Expect the polls to be even at least until the next Presidential debate. As has been the case the last few weeks, Sarah Palin was again the headline act and she has lived up to her top billing.

Update:
Fact checking the VP debate

Pete Dominick is NOT a wrestling pundit

Pete Dominick is a political talker who buys the analogy that punditry is not unlike wrestling. He just doesn't want any part of it.

Pete knows wrestling. On his show he's mentioned his brush with fame, meeting 80's wrestling star Junkyard Dog in a queue. You can tell Pete is an old time wrestling fan because he still refers to the fed as the "WWF" even though it changed its name to "WWE" in 2000.

Samples of Pete Dominick referencing wrestling below:
- Listen to a compilation of Pete referencing wrestling on his show
- Listen to a long snippet of Pete talking wrestling and Bill O'Reilly. A good primer for those unfamiliar with Pete's voice

Pete doesn't fit the standard template of a pundit. He isn't strident or combative, instead he is humble, curious and inquisitive. He also doesn't buy into the binary notion of politics, putting no weight behind and showing genuine bewilderment towards labels like 'liberal' and 'conservative'. He doesn't believe in party affiliations and the two party system, he frequently champions the consideration of third parties on his show as well as the merits of run-off voting. These are traits that make him unique amongst his talk radio peers.

The fact Pete is listed as an independent isn't the reason in and of itself as to why he isn't a wrestling-style partisan pundit. Pete's program resides on Sirius Radio's "IndieTalk" channel, he prefers to think of "indie" as standing for indie-vidual rather than indie-pendent. It's only fitting as the only other independent in the APF besides Pete is Bill O'Reilly, arguably the most wrestler like of all the pundits.

You can read more about Pete's views on Punditry from my conversation with him
- Introducing the newest APF Pundit: Pete Dominick

Below is an interesting exchange where a caller adopts the wrestling analogy followed by Pete distancing himself from the frame
PETE DOMINICK: ...Barack Obama why is he refusing to do these Town Hall meetings with John McCain...?
CALLER: I believe the Republican party love to fight in the trenches, Al Gore, John Kerry and Barack believe they can stay above it. They have this grand idea that the presidency is more than that... I don't see Barack wanting to fight. The American people are like "we believe in the WWF, American football and in your face style...
DOMINICK: Alright. You're probably right but don't include me in the WWF part of that.
CALLER: Me neither
DOMINICK: You know it's fake right
Listen and download the full conversation here

It's good too see someone recognize that Politics has become too much like wrestling. Moreover upon identifying it, aims to elevate the discussion and not engage within that frame.

With that said, Pete can't escape the Matrix. Watch him as a wrestler here.

Go to Pete's official Website
Get to Sirius Satellite Radio to listen to Pete's show
Find more about the Indie Talk channel on Sirius

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Sarah Palin VS Joe Biden - Blockbuster Debate.

The highly anticipated Vice Presidential debate is shaping up to be a crucial factor in how the electorate will vote this November.

Barack Obama enjoys a comfortable bump after his capable performance during the 1st Presidential debate. Most observers agree the night had "no knockout punches", "no gaffes" and is effectively being judged like a Rorschach test - the candidates simply affirmed their choice amongst decided voters. The bump came from undecideds who may have hesitated on Obama but had been convinced by how Presidential he carried himself.

Sarah Palin is looking to convince her set of undecideds during this VP debate. Like Obama a capable showing will be the featherweight push to convince undecided who are are already leaning but hesitating towards them. Many undecided Republicans have already flocked back to the GOP ticket - Republicans wary of McCain as a RINO and unenthused Christan Conservatives. She will need to convince the other undecideds who are evenly attracted to Obama and McCain. Some of the shine has already faded for Palin due to some unconvincing recent interviews and the early mishandling by the McCain camp that stifled her authentic appeal.

It's a game of managing expectations, Palin only needs to produce a capable performance to right the ship anything less will likely sink it. If she exceeds them, she has a future captaining the Republican ship.
As Hugh Hewitt writes:
Obama's Bounce: Dead Cat or Trend?
Palin faces an enormous challenge, just as she did on the night of her acceptance speech. She will not be graded on the curve by the MSM as Obama was.

But she does believe the right things, and understands the crucial choice facing the country. These are significant advantages. And if the momentum reverses itself again as is likely, Sarah Palin's performance Thursday night will be the third time she has re-energized the McCain campaign.
Hugh Hewitt was granted the first Conservative radio Palin interview:
Download and listen Hugh Hewitt's Sarah Palin interview. Read the transcript here.

The interview provides some insight into the appeal of Sarah Palin, as she identifies it.
HH: Governor, your candidacy has ignited extreme hostility, even some hatred on the left and in some parts of the media. Are you surprised? And what do you attribute this reaction to?

SP: Oh, I think they’re just not used to someone coming in from the outside saying you know what? It’s time that normal Joe six-pack American is finally represented in the position of vice presidency, and I think that that’s kind of taken some people off guard, and they’re out of sorts, and they’re ticked off about it, but it’s motivation for John McCain and I to work that much harder to make sure that our ticket is victorious, and we put government back on the side of the people of Joe six-pack like me...
Included in that is also a post-interview analysis between Jim Geraghty of NRO and Interviewer Hugh. It's laboured and self gratifying but a fascinating study.
Hugh has also listed some post interview analysis from other sources - Reactions To The Palin Interview

Added Extra
sarah palin, joe biden, summerslam We at the APF aren't afraid to make posters that have limited appeal and understood by an even smaller niche of wrestling fans. Click to see the original inspiration.

View my original post on the VP debate and the accompanying wallpaper