A commentary about sports, media, and interpersonal relationships encountered throughout everyday life.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

SNP: Saturday Night Politics

Tonight, the first Saturday Night Live since the conclusion of the Writers' Guild strike aired on NBC. As a twenty-something, the low expectations I hold for the program clash with the high standards my parents once possessed. Nonetheless, I tuned in because, well, it was a choice between that and Godzilla (yes, the one with Matthew Broderick) on ABC Family channel.

Upon changing the channel to NBC, I immediately recognized the opening set as the stage of Texas' Democratic debate between Hilary Clinton and Barack Obama that took place two nights ago. The role of Barack Obama, was played by Fred Armisen, who, at first glance, looked the part. The salt-and-peppered hair, slim build, and the slightly protruding ears all contributed to a living, breathing Obama caricature. However, one component of Armisen's Obama bothered me, and that was the omnipresent frown that he wore as he spoke and grunted in response to questions directed at him from the "CNN panel."
Now, Barack Obama is loved by the camera, yet this one characteristic was ignored by the SNL directors, producers, and, most noticeably, Armisen. In fact, not a single smile was cracked throughout the entire introduction to Saturday Night Live. This certainly isn't the Barack Obama that Democrats, Independents and (even a few) Republicans have come to know and love.
In fact, not that this was the sole decision of Armisen, but he displayed Obama as a quasi-awkward character. This was blatantly displayed as he reached to grab the rested hand of Hilary Clinton, played by Amy Poehler. During the awkward exchange, Poehler ripped her hands away from that of Armisen in disgust. The scene drew few laughs and, personally, made be wonder what politician the writers and producers of SNL had been watching over the past few months, because this depiction certainly was not Barack Obama (despite Armisen providing a really good caricature).

Later, during "Weekend Update" with Poehler and Seth Meyers, a surprise guest appeared on set. Governor Mike Huckabee appeared to Meyers' left, introduced as an unofficially official former Presidential Candidate. Huckabee, once again providing the great humor that debate viewers have come to expect, displayed charm and likability during the bit. In a micro-second of seriousness, Huckabee told his supporters and the American people that he would bow out "gracefully" when he "knew it was time." Meyers hinted that the time may be near as he was "mathematically eliminated" from Presidential contention.

Overall, the first episode of SNL was lackluster, but provided a decent look into the political atmosphere that the show had missed out on for so long. In the end, Mike Huckabee saved a sinking ship during the "Weekend Update" segment with his wit and charm. On the bright-side, at least the show can go nowhere but up in subsequent weeks.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Super Delegate Uncertaintly Is Unacceptable!

I have avoided this one for a while, but this morning I bit down hard and swallowed. No, it was not my morning bowl of oatmeal. It was not even the lukewarm coffee I drank in haste as I ran out the door. It was something far worse…

CNN’s American Morning featured an interview of Texas Democratic Party Chairman Boyd Richie and, his wife, Betty conducted by John Roberts. Now, this was not a story about the influence of politics on 40-plus year marriage, it was not even a focus on the political status of Texas as the state prepares for the March 4, 2008 Democratic Primary. No. This interview focused on the fact that both Boyd and Betty were Super Delegates. That’s right BOTH of them.

Boyd, full of the same southern charm that convinced many that it would good idea to elect a cowboy into office in 2000, assured John Roberts that his wife is a “independent thinker” and that she wouldn’t be influenced by his decision. Normally, I would give a nod of approval. That’s fantastic of ol’ Boyd, recognizing that his wife could make decisions for herself. However, Betty Richie was NOT making a decision for herself… she was making a decision for thousands!

Last week on MSNBC, Dan Abrams delivered a devastating statistic on his program. Abrams relayed the total number of Democrats who voted in the subsequent primaries, next he provided the number of Super Delegates allocated across America. Now, here’s the devastating part, his conclusion was that 1 Super Delegate represented roughly 9,439 Democrats. Excuse me for saying so… but that’s disgusting. Did we not just visit this back in 2000? The disenfranchisement of voters in Florida during the general election only eight years ago and now we are seeing it again!

Boyd, charmer that he is, told John Roberts that he would go whichever way the wind blew him. That is to say, that he would vote for the Presidential Candidate who sported the most delegates before Super Delegates cast their votes. Here’s hoping that Boyd’s democratic approach to his Super Delegate vote rubs off on his wife. Betty’s answer of “I don’t know who I am going to vote for yet,” doesn’t fly right now. Democrats deserve more than this. The nearly ten-thousand Americans represented by Betty Richie are receiving the message, “Why Bother?”

2007-08, up until this point, can be characterized as a year that voters were inspired to come out and vote. Democrats have a black man and a woman running for the party’s Presidential nomination. Change much? Unfortunately, this aforementioned newfound inspiration for change is now showing signs of a vast many undermined by the privileged few.

Somewhere, Thomas Jefferson must be smiling…

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Chants of "U-S-A" Capture Spirit of Obama Campaign

Tonight during its coverage of Super Tuesday’s almost-national primaries, CNN provided a brilliant metaphorical statement to its viewers. During Arizona Senator John McCain’s address to his supporters from Arizona, Illinois Senator Barack Obama began to approach the stage of his campaign headquarters where he would address his own supporters. CNN found itself in a pickle. Should it stick with the Republican powerhouse that has been John McCain, or would they preempt the boasting senator in favor of Obama?

The tension was building as CNN provided an essential split screen. On the right (ironically—except not at all) McCain rambled on about how his mother’s birthday was in two days, how she was traveling on the campaign trail with him, and how, though he liked being the underdog, winning all the time wasn’t bad either. Though all his comments were undoubtedly pressing, CNN cut McCain short, and at the crescendo of his speech to boot, in favor of what would be another stirring speech by Barack Obama.

Senator Obama’s speeches, at this point, are a selling point of primaries, debates, and public appearances. CNN proved that tonight when they axed John McCain’s own speech in favor of that of Obama. Tonight, in my opinion, Obama did not disappoint. However, there was a different message sent by Obama tonight. In fact, Senator Obama issued a plea to voters not completely sold on his position for change.

This tangent was necessary, as Obama no longer talked about his positions against those of Hillary Clinton, but rather the Democratic candidate against the Republican candidate. He asked the crowd of supporters if they wanted to hear a Presidential debate over who had more experience in Washington, or over who is most likely to change Washington? He continued that they all had a choice between a Democrat whose campaign has received more lobbyist donations than any Republican’s has, and a choice for a Democrat who has accepted no lobbyist donations. Considering the War in Iraq, Obama assured that Republicans do not have a foot to stand on when debating against him.

Most importantly, Barack Obama lumped Hilary Clinton in with all the Republican candidates as being “linked to the past.” Rather than “look to the past,” Obama propositioned his supporters, “allow me to be a President that looks to the future.”

Despite not winning a majority of the state in tonight’s nation-wide primary, Obama’s call to the indifferent was a moving one. So moving in fact, that the chants of “O-bam-a, O-bam-a,” sounding throughout the beginning of his speech were replaced with chants of “U-S-A, U-S-A!”

Is Barack Obama the real candidate for change? Well, like all things, that is still up for debate. However, the emotion and inspiration that emulates from each of his speeches and appearances are something that Republicans, Democrats, and Independents alike respect and are drawn to. I feel I can say, without a doubt, that a speech given by Hillary Clinton (even on her best day) could never achieve that result.