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"Mike and Jon, Jon and Mike—I've known them both for years, and, clearly, one of them is very funny. As for the other: truly one of the great hangers-on of our time."—Steve Bodow, head writer, The Daily Show
"Who can really judge what's funny? If humor is a subjective medium, then can there be something that is really and truly hilarious? Me. This book."—Daniel Handler, author, Adverbs, and personal representative of Lemony Snicket
"The good news: I thought Our Kampf was consistently hilarious. The bad news: I’m the guy who wrote Monkeybone."—Sam Hamm, screenwriter, Batman, Batman Returns, and Homecoming
July 13, 2008
By: Bernard Chazelle
These have been tough weeks for McCain. The only bright spot in his campaign has been Phil Gramm's felicitous quip that Americans are a bunch a whiners. When asked what role Gramm might play in a McCain administration, the Maverick replied: "I think I'll make him US ambassador to Belarus, but I'm not sure the people of Minsk will want him." That was good! Let's see Obama cut out Jesse Jackson's nuts and name the capital of Belarus in the same fucking sentence! Five years in the Hanoi Hilton teaches you those skills. But outside this momentary triumph, it's been pretty bleak for McCain.
And so Obama seized the opportunity by planting his flag right in Center Court, the habitat of that electorally cherished breed known as The-Independent-Voter. A little flip-flop on FISA, a reversal on handguns, a pirouette on the death penalty, a U-turn on campaign financing, and voila, Independents-R-Us.
That was the plan, anyway. The reality is that during his little Mary Lou Retton routine Obama lost 14 points among independents. Oh, dear!
The Obama brand has always been that of a transformative politician. That's how he won the nomination. That he is no such thing is irrelevant. That's his brand. If he now turns around and says "I was just kidding," then people will ask Hillary back . He is stuck with that image. Kerry won the nomination by putting everyone to sleep and he lost the election by putting everyone to sleep. The guy was consistent! Obama can't say now, "I am just Kerry with a cool attitude."
But Obama's problem is that, like Kerry, he has no program attached to his name. Nothing. Clinton had welfare reform. Obama has nothing. He arrived at health care only after everyone else did.
Here's my advice to Obama. It's going to be either/or. Either you adopt a cause. Anything. Say, building an underground tunnel to China that goes through the center of the earth. Then stick to it and explain why it will solve every problem in America. Or say nothing. Don't reverse any of your stands (such as they are). Just smile beatifically and answer every simple question with "it's all about change and hope." If the question is more complex, like say "Should subprime lending affect leveraged Forex positions in non-dollar-denominated durable goods?" then answer: "Americans want change in their pockets and in their hearts: It is time to change hope for change into change for hope so that hoping change will change how hope for change changes change."
That's it. It worked for Reagan. It'll work for you. Just remember: vacuous people are not allowed to change their positions.
— Bernard ChazellePosted at July 13, 2008 05:55 PM