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March 3, 2007

See BS


Here’s the screen shot the NYT ran this week noting McCain’s choice of “formal” presidential announcement.

What’s your take on the setting, and the particular shot (as opposed to your thoughts of McCain, in general)?

Here’s what I’ve got:

1.  Lately, I’ve been noticing how much McCain gives away his two sides (basically: principled vs. sell out) with his facial expressions.  As the election heats up, the contrast is becoming much more exaggerated.  This is the best example of the pander bear — with that grin and, especially, the eye contact — I’ve seen yet.

2.  Seems we’ve also got an example of how much the left and right diverge in terms of internet vs. TV, and new vs. old media.

(image: CBS via  March 1, 2007)

  • mugatea
  • Ksue

    Letterman doesn’t seem to be any too impressed with the pander bear.

  • Keir

    Wait. Did he really announce his candidacy on a late night comedy show? But this goes along with the general theme of your recent posts regarding politicians as celebrities.
    Here in The Netherlands there are regional elections next week. A frequent tv commercial has clips of the hosts of the various “voting” shows (like X-Factor or American Idol or whatever) encouraging viewers to vote, and then the sombre message “vote March 7th”. The sad conclusions to be drawn from this are too obvious to mention . . .
    . . . as are the observations being made here, I think. That mainstream, dollar-soaked politicians are becoming more and more distant from their potential constituents and relying more and more on celebrity-type press is not a “progressive” observation. It’s just painfully obvious. I’m not sure it’s worth our time.

  • jtfromBC

    ha ha ha

  • ummabdulla

    I think it’s ridiculous that he announced on David Letterman. But not surprising, I guess. What’s the difference these days between entertainment and news? Between the presidency and a late night talk show?
    As for the photo, he doesn’t look too appealing. The blue shirt and yellow tie… snow white hair in a combover… and as the Bag noted, the pandering look. Letterman is looking down at him, and seems like he’s just barely being polite.
    Even if he was going to do it on a TV show, he could have picked one where the host might act more impressed.

  • margaret

    That’s McCains’ “flyboy” smile, the one aviators flash at the earthbound in order to seduce them. Letterman hardly ever shows any real emotion: quintessential New York “power” demeanor. Pander is the right word, and Letterman is not seduceable.
    Politicians have been appearing on latenight shows for decades, but the manner in which they interact with the hosts has changed from respectful to who can outdo whom with the quips and the gags. They both come equipped, today, with writers who supply them with the same. One longs for the spontaneous, intellectual humor of Adlai Stevenson.

  • pj

    Put a black robe on Letterman, change his desk into a judge’s bench, and you have a smarmy lawyer whose latest motion is about to be denied.

  • catfood

    McCain looks conflicted. His charm, such as it is, appears limited to his facial expression. His body language suggests tension, hands nearly clasped, legs crossed in classic ball-defensive pose.

  • littlesky

    McCain looks like he’s trying too hard, as if he’s practiced “jovial” in the mirror a few too many times, and as if he wants Letterman’s nod of approval. “Yes, Senator, that’s quite a jovial look you’re wearing.”
    McCain’s tie. I’m probably reading too much into this, and I honestly don’t watch him or Bush that often, but I’ve noticed Bush has a tendency to wear soft colored ties when he’s trying to appear “bipartisan”…I wonder if McCain’s choice of pale peach is anything similar?

  • R Dickson

    McCain looks like the shark in that smile. Still and all-he isn’t going anywhere. People are on to this huckster. Letterman to looks like he isn’t impressed.

  • lowly grunt

    pj, excellent!
    Even though Letterman has been in New York for decades, he hails from Indiana. My experience of folks in the midwest (lived in OH for 14 years) is they can smell bullshit from a long way off. Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped many of them for voting for these snake oil salesman. I guess they’d rather vote against their best interests than vote for a Democrat. Hear that, Hillary/Obama?

  • Ernest Tomlinson

    Announcing his candidacy on David Letterman, eh? Perhaps he has H. Ross Perot in mind–Perot, the consummate “maverick” (or “flake” rather) announcing his candidacy not in some formal public statement but on Larry King’s show. Perhaps Sen. McCain is trying for a taste of the same magic.
    Aside from that, I’m not certain that anything can be read into this. McCain’s grin does seem a bit desperate to me while Letterman’s posture is of the sceptical job interviewer, relaxing back into his seat and waiting for the candidate to hang himself. You can almost imagine Letterman’s smiling that little smile after asking something like, “What would you consider your greatest weakness?
    But this is all fancy, really.
    The other thing that strikes me is that McCain seems, well, old. Letterman is getting up there himself but he still has a somewhat of a youthful air about him. On McCain, by contrast, you see clearly the wattles on his neck, the liver spots on his hands, the thinness of what’s left of his hair.

  • bncthor

    John McCain was fulfilling a promise he had made on a previous appearance on Letterman’s show. Senator McCain is appealing in several ways. However, being our President, in my view, is not one of them. He can best serve his fellow Americans as an Arizona Senator.

  • Bill

    I don’t know if you had the Rovian filter on, this is what I saw during this interview.

  • Wayne Dickson

    Overall impression? McCain is a cheap snake-oil salesman, while Letterman is a savvy, disdainful “mark,” willing to tolerate the spiel only as long as it remains amusing. Specific observations? Letterman is looking down on McCain, both literally and symbolically.

  • Lewis Shugar

    John McCain is lower than a snake!

  • Gasho

    check out Letterman’s hands. He’s holding back.

  • Gasho

    check out Letterman’s hands. He’s holding back.

  • charlie

    It looks like McCain said something he knows is bullshit and he’s desperately trying to sell it. Dave finds this amusing but knows this politician doesn’t have a chance.

  • Eric (Lettuce)

    why would anyone announce something so portentious, so influencial as their candidacy for Presidency on a late-night talk show? The set is designed (usually) to make the guest seem smaller, the host sitting over the guests. This is certainly the case here, and McCain looks old and small. With his shirt puffed up, tie askew, hair muffed and copious turkey waddle dangling farther than usual — he doesn’t look at all “presidential.” Given that his strength in 2000 was his bearing over the childish Georgie Bush, JR, this runs counter to his strengths.
    Sure, a comedy talk-show introduction is somewhat novel — but didn’t Bob Dole do the same thing 12 years back? And Tom Vilsack? And John Edwards four years ago? Arnie on the Tonight Show truly made the forum his own — in part because we was not buried on the big comfy couch.
    What’s next? Mark Warner did a press conference a year back within the confines of “Second Life,” via his personal Avatar… now that was novel (and, from press accounts, largely awkward…)

  • virgotex

    Judging from Letterman’s body language, the pander bear smells very bad.
    Re old media. It’s interesting to remember that Letterman is filmed in one of the hallowed shrines of old,very old, media: the Ed Sullivan Theatre.

  • jf

    Looking up at Letterman, down at McCain.

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