Posted tagged ‘Mitt Romney’

Snapshots: from Hillary’s cleavage to Michelle Obama’s derriere

February 1, 2008

Some months back, when Hillary seemed inevitable, she donned a top with a neckline that revealed a bit of cleavage. While it’s pretty certain Mrs. Clinton’s cleavage didn’t cause Playboy to come calling, it got lots of attention.

If Hillary’s cleavage was not presidential, then Michelle Obama’s pink fanny-hugging skirt at the South Carolina victory speech was decidedly un-firstladylike. The suit was fashionable, and feminine, and revealed an enviable derriere. But a prospective first lady – even one as stunning as Mrs. Obama — might want to rethink future displays of that particular asset.

Nobody’s asking her to be Barbara Bush, but her shapely backside did distract from the purpose at hand.

Other snapshots from post-Nevada campains: The Republican debate at the Reagan Library, during which the candidates sat in front of what appeared to be the hulking body of Reagan’s retired Air Force One. (Also a distraction from the purpose at hand.)

Mitt Romney might have been able to taxi a Boeing 747 through the hole available to him when the conversation turned to an early statement of his regarding a “timetable” for withdrawal from Iraq. But he missed his shot. Since Romney staunchly maintains that McCain is deliberately distorting the quote, it would have been a fairly simple matter – and an effective move – to accuse McCain of engaging in Clinton tactics.

They were, after all at the Reagan library, before a crowd that might have (debate protocol be damned) roared appreciatively had Romney said something to this effect:

“Senator McCain, you’re using Clinton tactics to try and misrepresent my record, and I won’t indulge you in it. The video in question is posted on my website for anyone who wants to see it for themselves. I will clarify my position one final time here, and then I’d like to move on.” Then he should have done it, in two or three sentences, and met any further questions about it with his URL.

Instead, he sank into a demeaning yes-you-did-no-I-didn’t exchange that diminished both candidates, and made the Reasonable Reporter wish for a flight attendant to appear with a drink and some headphones.

Back to South Carolina and the spectacular pink-suited Michelle Obama. No, wait a minute – Back to South Carolina and the victory speech given by the inspiring husband of the spectacular pink-suited Michelle Obama.

Barack Obama started slow, but came to life about a third of the way into his speech, and yes, he inspired hope and all the other goodness that lives in the mysterious part of the psyche from which human beings draw their political preferences. He was spine-tingling. And the next day brought endorsements from the Kennedy family.


For political choreography, always bet on Obama

December 10, 2007

In general, if a speech has five minutes worth of substance, it should be delivered in five minutes. Oprah Winfrey managed on Saturday to take seventeen minutes delivering five minutes worth of substance.

One wonders whether Oprah and the Obama handlers felt that she must give a minimum number of Oprah minutes to the fans – mostly her fans– who braved Iowa’s December weather to see her. Whether Oprah herself, having called the shots in her world for so many years, simply told the campaign “I’ve got a seventeen minute speech,” and then proceeded to give it. Or whether everyone who could have taken a blue pencil to Oprah’s remarks was so happy to have her on board, that they didn’t want to mess up a good thing.

Oprah may have been weak on content, but Obama’s expert strategists and choreographers were right on, as they almost always are. For connoisseurs of political choreography, the Oprah events were Swan Lake on steroids.

Is Oprah bigger than Bill Clinton? Hell, yes. Oprah runs an empire. She confers overnight fame and fortune on previously unknown authors. Oprah kicks the butts of people who sue her. She appears each month on the cover of her magazine, because she IS the brand. She gains weight without losing respect. She’s lampooned by the South Park guys, and for once, they are the ones who look the worse for it. Oprah is black, and yet accessible to the rest of us. She’s gorgeous, without actually being gorgeous. Oprah’s richer than Martha Stewart, JK Rowling and Madonna. And she’s nice, according to those who are in a position to know.

The Reasonable Reporter expected to be dazzled by Oprah. Wanted to be dazzled by Oprah. But apparently Oprah has been talking to the afternoon TV audience for too many years. Her speech was insipid, and way too long. And yes, she was “out of her pew,” as she told the Iowa audience.

They loved her anyway, because she’s Oprah. And because when you go out in 12 degree weather for an event, what are you going to do, leave before it’s over?

Meanwhile, in a smaller room, thousands of miles away, Dennis Kucinich yelled a lot. The more he yelled, the more applause he got from Northern Nevada’s progressive left., who had braved a tamer version of winter weather to get to the Reno Sparks Convention Center.

Kucinich inspired thunderous applause when he told the crowd of 300 or so that he’d been reading up on articles of impeachment. He spoke of his impoverished childhood. He outlined health care reforms that would strip the industry of its profit margin and redirect those dollars to patient care. He promised to be tough on lobbyists. This got him a standing ovation, but he was yelling again, so it wasn’t clear whether content brought the crowd to its feet, or choreography. (More modern jazz than ballet.)

In a brilliant bit of choreography, the statuesque young Mrs. Kucinich, who in low heels has at least six inches on her husband, perched at his feet on the edge of the raised platform where he stood. She gazed adoringly upward for most of the twenty-five minute speech, until the Reasonable Reporter’s neck began to ache in sympathy. It was intriguing, and it worked.

Mitt Romney, who once seemed to be the Republican bookend of Barack Obama for his presentation style, did not live up to choreographic expectations in his “big speech” about faith in America. The content was well thought out. The strategy was controversial, even in his own camp. The Romney choreographers, if indeed they ever were employed, have apparently joined the Hollywood writers on the picket line. Romney was smart and composed, but he wasn’t moving to the music.

Republicans surface in Reno

October 23, 2007

Originally Published on, 10/23/2007 1:09:27 PM

At last, we spot the rare creature that’s evaded us since John McCain made a swing through Reno in the spring.

Here’s how long it’s been since Reno voters caught sight in public of a Republican presidential candidate. At the McCain town hall, the candidate was optimistically pitching the brand of immigration reform that shortly thereafter moved voters to flood the Capitol switchboard with angry calls. That was the last Reno saw of the GOP, unless you count Rudy Giuliani’s strange shopping trek through Costco. Or the virtually apolitical Olympic pep rally at Mount Rose Ski Resort, where Mitt Romney urged the Reno-Tahoe Winter Games coalition to work with all its might to become the host city in 2018.

Romney and Duncan Hunter both appeared last weekend in Sparks at the Conservative Leadership Conference. (Romney’s smooth town hall performance was still top-of-mind a week later when the equally smooth Barack Obama appeared at the Grand Sierra. Obama’s presentation led the Reasonable Reporter to yearn for a debate between just the two, for no other purpose than to savor the aesthetic and verbal symmetry of such an event. Romney and Obama are suitably matched: stylish, civil, and artful in their language.)

Romney got a polite reception at the Conservative Leadership Conference, but it was Duncan Hunter who brought the crowd to its feet. Hunter promoted a border fence, protectionist trade policies and touted his son’s multiple tours of duty in Iraq. Both men, it should be noted, lost the CLC straw poll to Ron Paul, who didn’t even show up.

For philosophical symmetry, one might stage a debate between Duncan Hunter and John Edwards. Each man rails in his own way against free trade, and in favor of reinvigorating U.S. manufacturing. The candidates’ narratives taken together offer a wider lens through which to ponder the relevant economic questions than does either one alone.

Fred Thompson, who caught fire at last in Sunday’s Florida debate, is scheduled for his first Nevada visits in November. The Reasonable Reporter awaits a closer look.


Identity Politics: Dead or Alive?

Barack Obama declines to make more than a passing reference to his status as an African-American candidate for the White House. At the recent Reno town hall, he was asked whether said status causes him to feel additional pressure. In a masterful dodge of the race issue, the candidate:

1- Made a joke: if you don’t feel pressure running for the presidency, maybe you shouldn’t be the president.

2 – Shifted into more serious matters with a segue acknowledging the race question, sort of: the next president, black, white, brown, yellow, red, male, female – the next president will have a huge mess to clean up.

3 – Jumped right back into the meat and potatoes of his message: You know what pressure is? Somewhere in Iraq today, there’s a kid getting into a humvee… it’s hot, it’s dusty, he’s loaded down with heavy equipment. He lost a buddy yesterday and he might lose a buddy tomorrow. That’s pressure. Pressure is raising a family without enough money to pay for health care expenses. That’s pressure

4 – Wrapped it up with a bow: My job every day will be to think of ways to take the pressure off of you.

Uh. OK. What was the question again? In Obama’s world, Identity Politics is dead.

In Hillary Clinton’s world, identity politics is alive. Women have been the center of the Clinton bull’s eye from the beginning, but the effort intensified this week, with a focus on “Women Changing America.” The exclamation point on the full-court press for the female vote came from senior Clinton strategist Mark Penn, who predicted a quarter of Republican women will abandon the GOP for Hillary in 2008.

The unanswered question: Is identity politics dead or alive among Republican women, who would tend, one might think, to reject identity politics?

Penn also foresees young women voting in droves for Hillary, in a show of support for the symbolic progress represented by a woman in the White House. A view shared by the Reasonable Reporter, who, in a parallel line of reasoning has predicted same for months.