The Blue Raccoon

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Note To Kucinich:
Go Home.

Why the Democratic candidate should pull an old Republican trick and not leave his front porch
Image: Ohio

Congressman Dennis Kucinich, whom you may know, or may not if you glean too much of your news from non-alternative sources, is running for President of the United States. This involves criss crosses of this, our gray-uht land, by plane, bus and train, and appearing in front of whatever microphone in whatever venue that will have him.

My advice: just say no.

Dennis—Can I call you Dennis?—walk with me, talk with me. Look, you know, I know, the American people know, that campaigns tax candidates in both the physical and fiscal sense. This is as it should be; if you're wanting to be our chief executive, you need to prove you really want the job.

But, look, you’re up against two massive machines. The Democrats wouldn’t mind if you dropped out of the race. If they would come to their senses and nominate you, the Republicans with cruel zeal will turn you into a cartoon piñata.

They don’t like your looks and the Bubbas used to pick on guys like you in school. But that’s all repressed anger and frustration, and the way contemporary media culture inculcates boys with violence and false sex stereotypes and what constitutes manhood and manliness. Of course, they couldn’t even get near a woman like the one to whom you've joined in matrimony, and wouldn’t know what to do with her even if they did. But that’s neither here nor there.

Face it. You’ll make no inroads with that pro-God, pro-guns, anti-gay crowd. So don’t even try. There you are, on the hustings, in Pacifica, Ca., back in April.

What if, instead, those folks came to you, on decorated buses?

Cut your losses, Dennis. Here me out on this. They say you got crazy ideas, well, mine is looney tunes.

Here it goes. Now hear me out. By the way, you on good terms with your neighbors? 'Cuz here's my plan for you.

Pull a page from the playbook of another son of Ohio, William McKinley, and go home and sit on your porch. This was the strategy plotted for McKinley in 1896 by Mark Hanna, a kind of 19th century Karl Rove. (That's Hanna on the left, courtesy Wikipedia.)

Now, yes. He'd already won the Republican nomination when he decided that the better part of valor was to sit out his own campaign. But, times are different. You need to get attention by misdirection. You must invert the pradigm of U.S. elections. If not you, who? If not now, when?

Announce on your website, through your apparatus on the blogs and the alternative media, that you’re not going to run hither and thither anymore.

Why? These mad dash campaigns are a waste of resources—the world’s and yours and ours—and since the Nixon-Kennedy debates actual campaigning is reduced to a sillier-every-year beauty pageant. Well, guess what. You’re not seeking a tiara and a sash, and I'm sure you can't sing opera or twirl a baton (though I'd like to see you try).

The people of the United States want somebody who can actually speak to issues and propose solutions and make things happen. You can declare under the glare of lights: "I don't have to be part of a dog-and-pony show to run for the highest office in the land. I can run my own dog-and-pony show, thank you very much. Nope. I’m staying put. This is my beautiful house, this is my beautiful wife."

Hug Elizabeth around the waist.

You do know how to work this.

I hope you have a porch. If you don’t have a porch, get a house that has one. Or, I guess you could use your yard. Put up big, garish tents. Turn it into a kind of perpetual Labor Day festival/picnic.

We're talking massive swags of patriotic bunting. We're talking watermelon seed-spitting contests, we're talking sack races, we're talking a "Dunk The Chump" tank with a commedia-de'l-arte clown costumed as a "Fat Cat." The media can practice taking their cheap shots. They'll start betting pools. People will keep track online of who dunked the chump most. Get a celebrity guest to be the Fat Cat. Invite alt-indie bands to play -- or the ones you like-- for impromptu concerts, and make certain you have Internet broadcast rights. Hook into the YouTube/MySpace jazz. On weekends, roll in a small Ferris wheel for kids. Cut to head-shaking reaction shots from the people down the street. "That Kucinich is nuts," someobdy says. You smile bigger.

They’ll say you’ve opened a circus and you can grin, "And your point is...?”

[The Mr. and Mrs., from Cleveland]

And for the most part, stay put. This maneuver will bring to greater visibility than you’ve received in months. Release statements, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, about the international situations of various kinds, per your own philosophy. Invite folks you like, and folks you may be luke warm about, to come over to the house and have chats. Get your photograph taken sitting on your porch talking and smiling.

You get up early, go to bed early, and you’ll have to put up heavy shades to be free of the press truck lights or else you’ll never sleep. It'll be sort of a hostage situation, but with much better music.

I say: have coffee klatsches in the morning with whoever shows up. Have them leave their shoes lined up at the door. The New York Times will take black and white pictures of the shoes. It'll be classic. Have Elizabeth shout down, "Don't let them track in that mud!" Sit there with three or four newspapers and just converse about what strikes your fancy. Podcast the discussion.

Make dinnertime a big affair using long rows of picnic tables with plastic covers and food served buffeet style, like a huge family reunion. Invite everybody. Before eating, stand up and give some kind of little dinner appreciation toast/blessing that addresses the compelling issue of that day.

When you feel it important enough to go into the world and apply shoe leather to the effort, then that’ll garner even more publicity. You can’t do it very often or the news value wears off. “Dennis Kucinich emerged form his lair today,” they’ll say. But let’em laugh. You know what you’re doing.

It’s a nothing campaign about something: the fate of the world as we know it. Now that’s Must See TV.

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