Culturally Discombobulated

Tag: Marco Rubio

87 long, dark nights for America: The faintly hypnotic quality of failed candidate’s B-roll footage

Eighty-seven long, dark nights to go.

Trump’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “I am truly enjoying myself while running for president. The people of our country are amazing – great numbers on November 8th!”

Clinton’s Daily Twitter Highlight: “We need to make sure every American has high-speed internet access. And we will.”

Daily election article of interest: London Review of Books: Diary – Christian Lorentzen: “My father voted for Bernie Sanders in the spring and says he’ll vote for Donald Trump in November…”

And what are you doing before bed this Saturday evening, Windram? Watching the almost bizarre B-roll footage of failed Presidential candidates?

An oversimplified explanation of B-roll footage is that it is supplemental footage that a crew films, a more precise explanation can be found here.

In our current Super PAC-era of American politics, however, B-roll footage is something a little different, a cute circumvention of campaign finance laws. While a Super PAC can be set up to support a specific candidate by making and running expensive ads for them, they are prohibited from actively coordinating with the candidate or the candidate’s campaign team. But if a campaign team were to upload to the web hours of professionally shot B-roll footage of their candidate, well, there’s nothing wrong in the Super-PAC taking this footage and using it to make ads in support of that candidate. It’s democracy at its finest.

And it’s fascinating; being both clearly stage-managed and yet making everything so trivial and banal that you think you can almost catch a glimpse of the real person behind the spin and fabricated persona. It is mundanity under an ambient beat, and as such is embarrassingly hypnotic – a sort of wonk’s lava lamp. You could play these videos on a never-ending loop as a modern art installation. It almost, almost, makes you long for the days of Rubio, Cruz, and Kasich. Those days feel like they are from a whole different eon rather than a few months ago. Watching them you can’t help but feel that the unsuccessful candidates are the lucky ones as they have been freed from the purgatorial life of a national campaign.


“Beware the Super Tuesday”: Super Tuesday III, 15 March 2016

This third installment in the Super Tuesday franchise took place on the Ides of March. I guess it was Rubio (and his career) that ended the day a bloody corpse … or maybe it’s the GOP … or the American political process … or … forget it, whatever your hot take is, it can probably be made to fit.

Farewell Marco

I’m sticking with Marco for a clumsily forced Ides of March analogy; primarily because Rubio’s role in Jeb!’s exit helped craft this campaign’s Athenian tragedy, so it seems only apt that Rubio’s own exit provides its Roman tragedy. Although, Chris Christie, who severely weakened Rubio by attacking him relentlessly in earlier debates, puts pay to Caesar’s proclamation to “let me have men about me that are fat.”

CNN projected Florida for Trump early in the night, giving Rubio a few hours to practice his withdrawal speech. As it turned out, Rubio’s speech was a good one by his standards – perhaps due to the weight of the campaign being lifted from him. To bring up a British example, I found it somewhat reminiscent of Gordon Brown’s speech to the Citizens UK conference in 2010; compellingly delivered, expertly explaining to the electorate how life events have shaped their political worldviews, and, ultimately, way, WAY too late.

Unfortunately, Rubio’s campaign won’t be remembered for last night’s speech; it’s the dick jokes with Trump we’ll recall, and which Rubio will have to wear (metaphorically) like a Dukakis helmet for the rest of his life.

John Sticks Around

Kasich managed to do what Rubio couldn’t and won his home state. This gave us the joy of watching a Kasich victory speech. It’s a shame that Jack Lemmon is no longer with us, as he’s the only actor I could ever envisage playing Kasich. So Kasich made his speech, and even in victory, looked uncomfortable – like a High School principal delivering a news conference to the press after a terrible tragedy.

Still, fair play to Kasich in being one of the last three standing. He’s like the guy that refuses to leave your house party even though it’s 2am, everyone else has left, and you’re now washing the dishes.

“Should I call you a cab, John?”

“No, I’m good. Thanks.”

Hillary Wins

Clinton wins, but it all feels methodical; it’s hard for anyone to get enthusiastic. If Hillary’s campaign were a sports team it would be George Graham’s Arsenal team of the late 80s and early 90s. “One-nil to the Hillary,” not the worst of slogans. Of course, the Graham era did unravel with a scandal – financial impropriety – so not at all like the Clintons then.

Hillary made the mistake of trying to end her speech with soaring rhetoric. It really didn’t come off. She ended up sounding a bit too Dalek-y for my liking. Internet group think informs me that this is an unacceptably sexist observation that I’m making and that it’s one made by many misogynists, but come on, she should stop doing things she isn’t good at. I quite like Hillary; she’s the candidate I’d most like to have a Manhattan with, but I do think there’s poor strategy in her camp. My earlier complaints in this blog about Romney’s failings when it comes to his rhetoric also apply to Hillary. A lot of successful US politicians have something of the preacher about them, Bill Clinton has it, Obama has it, Hillary does not. Don’t give her lines that require that quality of her. On a similar note, none of the candidates do. Well, Cruz definitely has something of the preacher in his style, but a preacher more like Robert Mitchum in Night of the Hunter than Joel Osteen.


On the topic of misogyny, Trump in his speech saw fit to publicly thank his campaign manager, Corey Lewandowski, who is accused of assaulting reporter Michelle Fields at an event last week – because sometimes public support for a loyal member of staff can also be a disturbing insight into the psychopathy of the Trump campaign. Trump really is insisting on laying his personality warts and all for us all to see – more fool us for allowing him to get this far.


Cruz made a speech. It was slightly reminiscent of the sort Rubio was delivering a few weeks back – second place finishes proclaimed as victories. In fairness, it was a good night for him strategically. He also had Carly Fiorina (remember her) on stage with him. Disappointingly she didn’t stand directly behind him like a hostage.


Sanders also made a speech, but strategically-speaking it wasn’t a good night for him.


And the Scalia sub-plot continues as Obama nominates Merrick Garland – whom I can only assume is a ruddy-cheeked Dickensian character – to the Supreme Court. 

Who knew the end of the world would be so entertaining?

Turns out, now that it is nearly here, that I feel far better about the end of the world than I ever thought I would. At the very least, there’s plenty to watch, to tweet about, to blog about.

Cruz won Maine and Kansas handsomely. Trump squeezed wins in Louisiana and Kentucky. Consistently two-thirds of the Republican electorate are voting for outsider candidates. It is hardly surprising that I am in tears over the Republican primaries – but what is surprising is that the GOP establishment is in tears with me.

The Donald called for Little Miss Sunshine to drop out so it can be a two-man race between himself and Cruz. “I want Ted one-on-one,” he announced at his victory speech. It says something about the tone of this campaign that my first thought on hearing that was to assume it was deliberate innuendo. I’m reduced to thinking everything out of one candidate’s mouth is a thinly disguised remark about their dick. Most of the time it is.

Wanting Little Marco to pull out? Yeah, probably another dick joke. It’s as if Are You Being Served? was running for office.

Dick assures country of the size of his dick – wants to be President: GOP debate, 3rd March 2016

I’m fresh from watching Fox News’ coverage of the Republican Party’s death rattle, otherwise known as the eleventh GOP debate of this election cycle, and like a film series with so many entries, we’re really running on fumes and are reduced to making the cheapest, crassest jokes imaginable. On that point, if these GOP debates were a film series they’d be Police Academy.

All that really needs to be known about this debate is that it was the one in which Trump reassured the country that he doesn’t have a small penis. Great. We’re done now. Where do we go from here? Ron Jeremy as his running mate?

Thoughts as I watching (i.e. nonsensical thoughts cribbed from my twitter feed):

Odds on Trump ending the night by creepily presenting Megyn Kelly with a single red rose?

Good to see Donald assuage any doubts we might have about the size of his penis. Not sure that’s what people mean when they question whether he can be the head of state.

That nuclear triad joke was lousy last time you said it, Marco.

How can I vote for Kasich when he has spoken for the last five minutes and still hasn’t assuaged my concerns about his penis size?

“This little guy…” Trump’s dismissal of Rubio. Is that a small dick reference, too? Everything has to be read in those terms now. Christ, it’s as if Sid James were running for President of the United States.

And yet I’m oddly enjoying this. I wonder if I’d also enjoy WWE?

Pretty confident that the next debate is going to be a literal pissing match.

In fairness, this is an embarrassment of an audience. Constant booing, gurning at the cameras – it’s like a Flyers’ game.

The most terrifying moments are when the madman says something reasonable and gets pilloried: “you got to get along with everyone.” “Booooo!!” Wait, this one of those tiny moments when he isn’t being crazy. Boo him when he’s talking about his dick or talking about he’s going to turn the US military into his personal militia who will obey him no matter what.

“I have too much respect,” says Trump to Megyn Kelly without any sense of irony whatsoever.

Haven’t heard about anyone’s manhood for a while. I think this GOP debate may have shot its load early.

There seems to be some very rowdy bachelorette parties at this debate. Worried that they might start chanting “strip” at Little Marco.

Ah, Kasich, you can’t even deliver a zinger. You should have carried through with that paraphrase on Lloyd Bentsen’s line. “I knew Ronald Reagan and you are no Ronald Reagan,” would have, I’d have thought, been an effective moment for Kasich.

Anthony Hopkins is going to be truly wonderful as Trump in the Oliver Stone biopic.

After a fairly strong opening, Rubio has been anonymous. Cruz has performed the attack role far more effectively and without engaging in Trump’s adolescent nonsense. Also Kasich has had more presence than in previous debates. I wonder if he sounds fresher to the audience as they don’t know his soundbites so well?

Trump performs well with the poorly educated. I don’t think they care so much about Trump University, Marco. I don’t know if this is the main attack line.

Wonder what name Trump University gave its athletics program. The Trump Schlongs? The Trump Coiffures?

Trump really is the evil businessman in a Herbie the love bug movie.

I’m not her biggest fan, but Megyn Kelly is so much better at this than Wolf Blitzer was last week.

Kasich becomes the first person in the history of Detroil to get applauded for saying “let’s stop fighting.”

From a debate perspective, Kasich is the real beneficiary of Carson dropping out.

Chris Wallace looks like he should be in an old time-y nightdress, night cap and holding a candle holder.

Kasich: “I’m the little engine than can…” Awwwww. Not really what many people are looking for in a President.

Rubio reminds me of a kid who was the golden child at High School but is now struggling with the curriculum at university.

Debate is over. And it changed absolutely nothing.

How many more of these do we have to endure. They’re really not fit for purpose anymore.

I’ll say one thing for a Trump presidency – just think of the incredible banana republic-esque military uniform he’ll fashion for himself.

Quick thoughts ahead of GOP debate, 3rd March 2016

Some quick thoughts ahead of tonight’s GOP debate:

How does Trump show himself to be Presidential? Does he even know what that would look like?

Trump in his rally in Maine today spoke of how his wife, Melania, wanted him to act more Presidential. Minutes later Trump alluded to Romney having being prepared to perform fellatio on him in return for his endorsement during the 2012 election – so much for seeming Presidential.

This is the problem with a reality star as a political candidate*. Successful reality shows work by taking horrible people, putting them in a room, and filming them as they talk nonsense for hours before distilling it all down into an entertaining few minutes.

And this is precisely how the Trump campaign has been working. In his rallies he spouts nonsense and then the news media cuts it down into the most provocative soundbite and then amplifies it.

It used to be that the world raised an eyebrow at America’s willingness to vote an actor for President, but, a least, an actor is acurltely aware of how tone and demenour effect a performance – the only performance Trump is capable of is himself unabashed.

Is there any enthusiasm left for Rubio?

Yesterday it was reported that Fox News head, Roger Ailes, was “finished with Rubio.” In addition, Romney in his attack on Trump refused to endorse any of the remaining candidates. A week ago it seemed all the establishment was coalescing around him. If the love-in with Rubio is over, it will be interesting to see what the news coverage of him will be like tonight, and, equally, what tactic he takes in tonight’s debate.

In addition, if Rubio does go after Trump, do Cruz and Kasich simply let him do all the grunt work or do they join in, too?

Personally, I don’t think stooping to Trump’s level is a great look for anyone, particularly Rubio who seems to get flustered when faced with Trump’s non-sequiters.

Will Romney’s speech make a difference?

It felt like the GOP electorate today had to sit through a special assembly called by the school Principal as he’s disappointed with recent behavior.

Listening to Romney was a good reminder of his own failings as a candidate. He certainly looks the part, a President from central casting, but when he opens his mouth he’s utterly uninspiring; he looks urbane, but sounds like a crusty grandpa.

As an aside, there’s something of the preacher to many successful American politicians. It’s a rhetorical style that fits easily within a political environment obsessed with calls for a higher power, and so often requires a leap of faith from supporters. Romney simply doesn’t possess it. I wonder if it’s cultural? I can’t think of any charismatic LDS preachers, I know they don’t have a professional clergy as such, I guess they end up relying even-tempered, unexcitable  patriarchs in their community, and that’s how Romney comes across most of the time, there’s a strong base level of competency in his speeches, but he is unable to make them soar – you don’t leave inspired, but neither do you leave despising him. It’s a bit like being accosted by Mormon missionaries; they leave you unconvinced by their arguments but thinking they are superficially polite and a little on the dull side.

I’m not sure if it was the right move for Romney to make the speech he did, and I certainly don’t think the son of George Romney is the one to chide Donald Trump for inherited wealth as Mitt did at one point.

Let’s see whether it has the desired effect or just enrages a base already disillusion with its establishment further.

Will anyone miss Ben Carson?

Only the fruit salad lobby.

*Trump being the first reality show candidate, though Palin was a proto-reality show candidate.