HOORAY FOR HOLLYWOO... ER, THE DEMOCRATIC PARTY
All we've heard about for the past several days in the political press is the friction between the Clinton and Obama camps. (With luck, the truce they've called will hold.) This was supposed to be the race in which Democrats had a love-fest, gravitating toward different candidates but all primarily united around the goal of ending Republican rule, but it isn't working out that way -- the two Democratic front-runners are fighting, while the GOP seems to have a new top dog, and, as the Politico reports, "McCain faces little incoming fire" ("His opponents aren’t going after him").
Except that there is friction in the GOP -- we just don't hear much about it. Romney has attacked Huckabee as a liberal. So has Fred Thompson. Rick Santorum -- a Romney surrogate who's much higher-profile than, say, Andrew Cuomo or Bob Johnson -- has launched blistering attacks on McCain.
And yet none of this gets much press.
There are a lot of reasons for this, obviously. Clinton and Obama are fighting over race, and at least one Obama supporter, Jesse Jackson Jr., has stupidly played the gender card against Clinton. Race and gender are hugely sensitive issues in America. And, well, Clinton and Obama are bigger rock stars than Huckabee and Romney and McCain and Thompson.
But that last one is a big part of the problem.
It's not just that Clinton and Obama are rock stars. It's that, to some extent, they're being covered like rock stars. The political press looks at Clinton and Obama the way the entertainment press looks at celebrities -- i.e., as too-perfectly-polished, glamorous people whom we admire and envy but whose hair we really, really want to see mussed. And meanwhile, Republicans can fight among themselves all they want, and their fights aren't going to be treated as entertainment, because they involve Normal Guys Discussing Serious Things.
When Democrats can shake their other stereotype, as pathetic, pasty geeks (e.g., Al Gore in 2000), they're instantly put in the celebrity stereotype (e.g., Al Gore now). To some extent this happens because they actually hang out with entertainers (Clinton, Obama, Gore these days) -- but John McCain can sit on every talk-show couch in America, and Mike Huckabee can turn Chuck Norris into his de facto running mate, and this never happens to them. Hell, the Republican Party can actually run Hollywood celebrities for office (Reagan, Fred Thompson) and they're still seen as jes' folks.
The entertainment world is perceived as frivolous and oriented toward the gay/female; analogously, Democrats are the "mommy party." Republicans, of course, are real men. (Even female Republicans -- Condi Rice, Ann Coulter -- are honorary guys.)
Is it a coincidence that the two Republicans who actually have gotten bad press this year are Rudy Giuliani and Fred Thompson? Maybe the negative stories about Giuliani's "shag fund" didn't make Republican voters see him as immoral or corrupt so much as overly solicitous of the woman in his life; maybe the damaging cleavage pictures of Jeri Thompson suggested that, dammit, Fred can't keep his woman under control. Far more manly to keep your wife in the shadows, a la Romney and Huckabee and McCain, while you hang out with the boys.
I'll close by noting two very similar book covers:
Yeah, maybe it's just a coincidence. To us oldsters, both of these images look like a pre-cable flipping TV. That may be suggestive for Cruise, who's shown on Entertainment Tonight all the time. But why Hillary?