Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Candidates laying the smack down

I've always been a big advocate of better voter turnout in America. Nothing irritates me more than hearing someone say that they didn't vote because they didn't have time, it wasn't convenient, they couldn't get around to it, blah blah blah. Voting is a sacred responsibility for Americans, and I've written about it before.

So I don't know whether to cheer or jeer the latest outreach by our presidential candidates to American voters: their taped appearances yesterday on WWE Monday Night Raw.

Yes, Vince McMahon's wrestling kingdom has apparently reached the point that when he beckons the candidates, they will come running. (Or is it that that is what our political system has come to?) In any event, when a race is this tight, the candidates are unwilling to leave any stone unturned.

So when candidates are around, pandering can't be far behind. Pandering is par for the political course, but some candidates just do it better than others. And that was true on Monday night.

Predictably, Hillary Clinton's pandering was the worst disguised, and her performance was downright awful;

Hi. I'm Hillary Clinton. But tonight, in honor of the WWE, you can call me 'Hill-Rod' ...

I've been knocked down, but I've always gotten back up. And I know how to take a hit for the American people ...

And if things get a little tough, I may even have to deliver the 'people's elbow.'

OK, props for referencing the people's elbow, a signature move of The Rock, a/k/a Dwayne Johnson, one of the most popular wrestlers in the history of McMahon's expansive stable. But "Hill-rod?" She deserves the elbow for that. Her parting shot: "When it comes to standing up for the American people, though, I am ready to rumble." Blech.

And I'm not even going to get into discussing that scarf she had around her neck. Talk about your safety hazards.

John McCain, perhaps also predictably, was just plain goofy in his Ric Flair impression:

"Ta be the man, ya have ta beat the man," he growled. "Come November, it'll be game over. And whatcha gonna do when John McCain and all his McCainiacs run wild on ya?"
McCain gets wrestling style points for the growl, the fist pump that accompanied it, the obligatory reference to himself in the third person and the name he created for his fans. But I have to subtract a point for the way he pronounced Obama's name: "BAR-ock Obama." Why?

So that leaves us with Obama. Perhaps because he's younger and more at home (?) with a WWE/RAW-type audience, Obama nailed his appearance, also invoking Johnson's Rock character by adopting his signature line -- and it required only the most minor revision:

"To the special interests who've been setting the agenda in Washington for too long, and to all the forces of division and distraction that have stopped us from making progress for the American people, I've got one question: Do you smell what Barack is cooking?" he said with a grin.
That is awesome. Obama's self-satisfactory smile indicated that he knew it, too ... Self-confidence: Always key in wrestling.

See the candidates' tapes here.

On a final note, wrestling fans are famous for their creative signs, inexpensively produced on flashy neon posterboard and displayed prominently throughout broadcasts. The candidates' message-makers could learn a thing or two about breaking a thought down into two -- or three, four or five -- carefully selected words.

Man, I just spent 30 minutes discussing WWE-RAW on my political blog. I've become more Jim Ross than Gloria Borger.

I'm going to have to go lie down.