I know it's a rather small example, but check out this line in Time Magazine today:
"Political scientists speak of the communications skills of Reagan, Thompson and California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger..."
Serious question: What "political scientists speak of the communications skills of Fred Thompson?" I mean, I guess I'll suspend my sheer disbelief and assume that at least a few political science professors have expounded on the supposedly amazing "communications skills" of Gov. Conan the Barbarian, because he is chief executive of the largest state in the country (yes, yes, that legendary line "You are erased!" from 1996 told astute political scientists what an immortal political communicator Schwarzeengger was going to become). But Fred Thompson?
I'm honestly asking here, because they aren't in the article: Where are the examples of not just one political scientist, but many political scientists opining on the communications skills of a one-term, lackluster Tennessee senator from the mid-1990s? And do these mythical political scientists talk so often about Fred Thompson's communications skills, do they hold so many special lectures on "Fred Thompson: Communications Extraordinare," do they bring together so many scholars at annual conferences to study the Fred Thompson method of communicating with the American people, that Time Magazine should be chiseling this Republican presidential candidate in Mt. Rushmore? Funny, I was a political science major at Northwestern University when Thompson was in the heyday of his supposedly historic Senate career brandishing these vaunted "communications skills" - and I don't remember ever once hearing about Thompson from any of my professors, and I certainly don't remember the esteemed, everbody-who's-anybody-must-attend Fred Thompson Honorary Seminar on American Political Communications.
Remember, folks - while this is, again, just one line in Time Magazine, this is exactly how the Beltway media, too lazy to do reporting on real issues, works overtime - to the point of actually making up fantastic storylines about eagerly chattering political scientists - to make presidential campaigns into glorified Family Channel television shows, replete with saccharine archetypes. In this case, we have the media working to cast Thompson as Reagan-esque "Communicator," for his time as a no-name Hollywood actor - rather than, say, Vader-esque "Dirtbag" for his service as a longtime K Street lobbyist for companies like General Electric when that firm was dumping cancer-causing toxins in upstate New York rivers.
As Rolling Stone's Matt Taibbi says in his recent column, be on the lookout for similar efforts by other reporters as this campaign heats up, because while a Made for TV presidential race might be all laughs for folks in Washington, there's just too much at stake for the rest of us in 2008.