July 30th, 2007
Pundits claim that in 2008, the issues will magically fuse with a Presidential candidate's personality — and reflect the ultimate wishes of the American people. So which hopes and dreams will rise to the surface?
Ask the people who've already imagined the candidates into cartoons. Their "one step from reality" videos reveal a sort of enhanced "hyper truth." Or at least, the truth as seen by six wise guys on the web.
1. Super Size Me
The Democrats' "excitement" over their '08 candidates may just be relief — that George Bush won't be President any more. Capturing this glee is a Saturday morning cartoon showing the Bush administratration as "The Legion of Doom." And they're about to get their asses kicked by a team of Democratic superheroes.
In this dream world, Karl Rove is transformed from an evil prince of political disinformation into The Joker, and Condoleeza Rice becomes Catwoman. They've teamed up with arch villians Bush and Cheney for a "conquest of the universe" — but four Democratic Presidential candidates are flying to the rescue. Hillary Clinton appears as Wonder Woman — of course — and Barack Obama is "Captain United." Former attorney John Edwards gets a special crest on his chest — the scales of Justice. And Al Gore isn't the Green Lantern, he's "The Green Solution".
At the end of the video, there's even a pointer to a web site analyzing their various super powers. Hillary Clinton's weakness?
"A severe aversion to interns."
2. Barack Obama: More than Meets the Eye?
America ignores the primaries until Labor Day, focussing on summer blockbusters instead. But one voter imagines the world-conquering robots from Transformers taking a break from dominating the box office to discuss...Barack Obama.
Sure, he's set fund-raising records, but are we being blinded by his skillful speechmaking? Even "Optimus Prime" can't stop talking about the Obama phenomenon. There's thoughtful questions about his experience — could Obama handle a nuclear Iran? Or maybe the Transformers should be voting for Bill Richardson.
But ultimately this video demonstrate the most powerful truth of all. That most political conversations in America devolve into nothing but personal attacks and defensiveness.
3. Hillary Clinton: Please Don't Hurt Me.
It's not any particular position, just...a weird vibe. Hillary Clinton is the front runner. Hillary Clinton scares people.
To be fair, the former First Lady (and former lawyer) endured eight years of right wing vilification, and it's given her a tough skin. But one Mason-Dixon poll found that more voters reported a negative reaction to Hillary than a positive one. Despite her name recognition, she remains an enigma — everyone thinks they know her, but no one knows why. While inventing her political self, Hillary's moved from "the left" to "the center" and even to "the right." But it's not that. It's just...something.
YouTube user "thefreemind" has created a video he's labeled "My opinion" that captures this disconnect. It offers the electorate one simple message.
Hillary Clinton? Please don't hurt me.
4. John Edwards meets Hanna Barbera
Electability! That's what Democrats crave most.
So while John Edwards babbles on about that war in Iraq and the need for universal health care, there's a secret second message. Just think how many Electoral College votes he could win!
With an earnest, low-key delivery, Edwards packs the charisma of Bill Clinton — the only Democrat who actually won the Presidency in the last 21 years. And it's that charming Southern accent that gives him extra empathy points. Who does he remind you of?
Here's a hint. Southern voters include "yellow dog Democrats" — who are said to be so loyal they'd vote for a yellow dog if it were running as a Democrat. But this video asks a related question. Would they also vote for a blue cartoon dog wearing a bow tie?
There's also a second political truth. While creating this video, user "Meadowfrost" ignored everything Edwards said about warring factions in Iraq — and then spliced in dialogue from a Huckleberry Hound cartoon.
That tells you everything you need to know about the American electorate.
5. The Good, the Bad, and Bill Richardson
When Bill Richardson ran for governor in 2006, his campaign came up with a full-fledged western in 30 seconds. But at least there was a point to mimicking old movie cliches — as governor he claimed credit for "$600 million worth of movie production."
It's a cartoon of sorts — a sugary over-simplification of both the campaign and its candidate. (What will they call the sequel — A Fistful of Bill Richardson?) But political ads always reveal the inner thoughts of hired political consultants, and how they're privately viewing the electorate. In this case, their message seems to be: voters won't listen without a feel-good story.
And sadly, the consultants are probably right.
6. An Inconvenient Al Gore
After years of being called a robot, Al Gore finally appears with one. Al Gore's daughter is a writer for Futurama, and to promote An Inconvenient Truth, Gore appeared in a cartoon with Futurama's robot, Bender.
Our former Vice President says he's not seeking his party's nomination — but no one believes him. Instead, Gore's denials are seen as a brilliant stealth campaign that includes both An Inconvenient Truth and this year's Live Earth campaign. In an age of YouTube debates and viral video, voters have more media options than ever, and if Al Gore enters the race, he may have unwittingly revealed the most inconvenient truth of all.
If you want to be President, you can't be afraid to step into a cartoon.
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