Joe Lavin's Humor Column
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Thu, 24 Aug 100 10:19:39 -0700
Subject: Joe Lavin's Humor Column
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Kissing Beneath the Bouncing Shadow
by Joe Lavin -- http://joelavin.com
Just in case you were wondering, there is no news today in the presidential
campaign. There was no news yesterday, and there will be no news tomorrow.
Instead, there are only symbols, metaphors, and the occasional simile. It
is as if Campaign 2000 is being orchestrated by your high school English
Absolutely everything in this campaign is infused with instant meaning and
instant analysis by the press, regardless of whether it deserves such
treatment. Mere minutes after Gore finished his convention speech last
Thursday, there was Dan Rather asking all his correspondents, "Did Gore
get the bounce he needed from this speech?" Rather said it as if such a
thing could be instantaneously quantified, as if there really was a little
red Superball bouncing somewhere on the convention floor.
During the pre-game show before the speech, the questions were also
bounce-related. Every anchor wanted to know how Gore could get a bounce in
what was to be "the most important speech of his life." The experts agreed
that most of all Gore needed to "be himself." Be himself? What? As opposed
to last week when he was Amelia Earhart?
As luck would have it, Gore struck gold and managed to be himself for the
entire speech. "This was the real Al Gore tonight," more than one pundit
proclaimed when it was all over. Well, what a relief! I hate it when they
use Stunt Al instead.
At one point, I even heard a commentator suggest that Gore seemed more
authentic than usual, which begs the metaphysical question: If someone acts
more authentic than usual, is that really authentic behavior? I'm not sure,
but we had best not dwell on it. That's the type of question that can fuel
about fifteen hours of Crossfire debate.
"But can't you see? Gore's obviously using this new authenticity ruse to
deceive the public! Come on! We all know the real Al Gore isn't at all
authentic, and it's time the American people were told this!"
Clinton's shadow was another big theme. One of Gore's main tasks, we were
told, was to step out from under this shadow. From what I gathered, the
President must have scarfed down more than a few Big Macs, because this
was one massive shadow. Everyone was talking about it. Well, everyone
except the American people, that is.
And so in the midst of a relatively good speech, we were presented with
one of the most simplistic lines ever when Al Gore proudly announced, "I
stand here tonight as my own man." Well, thanks for letting us in on that
This is not something you would expect to hear from anyone who really was
his own man, yet Gore had no choice. He had to include such silliness in
his speech, because it's exactly what the media demanded. The pundits
loved it. It was one of the most replayed lines of the entire speech. "Well,
Dan, I think he really stepped out of Clinton's shadow tonight," all the
pundits gushed. Somehow, just by declaring that he was his own man, Gore
left the imaginary shadow behind. Imagine if governing were as easy as
manipulating the press!
Perhaps silliest of all was the kiss. As Gore walked to the podium for his
speech, he gave his wife Tipper -- in the words of one newspaper -- "a
full-mouthed kiss." From all accounts, it was a pretty good kiss, even
dare-we-say-it passionate. Believe it or not, this is news. For some
commentators, the kiss was a reminder that unlike certain politicians Gore
is a happily married man who apparently digs his wife. Along with the
stunning "my own man" rhetoric, this kiss supposedly helped Gore to further
step out from beneath Clinton's shadow.
Because of this, many speculated that the kiss must have been staged. On
NBC's Today show Monday, Matt Lauer actually asked the Vice President of
the United States of America the following question: "You really planted
one on Mrs. Gore. What were you thinking?"
Gore replied that the kiss was "completely spontaneous." He further said
that he was shocked by all the attention it received. Whether you like him
or not, it's tough not to appreciate his response: "Somebody said, 'Are
you trying to send a message?'
I said, 'Actually, I was trying to send a message to Tipper.'"
But was it the real Al Gore sending her the message? How about the bounce?
Did he get the bounce he needed from the kiss? And what about Clinton's
shadow? Was it getting any action? Tune in for the rest of the campaign,
and unfortunately you'll probably find out.
Copyright 2000 by Joe Lavin
© 2000 Peter Langston