Did you ever get the feeling that at some point in the past, political culture got inextricably combined with celebrity culture -- sort of like the legendary chocolate-and-peanut-butter collision that birthed the Reese's Peanut Butter cup, except that in this case, the peanut butter cup hurts to swallow and sours the stomach for several generations?
Well, duh, this is all true and it should make you sick to death with the world. The best case for traveling in time I can think of is this hypothetical: what if you could take clips of Tom Delay on Dancing With The Stars back to 1985? Millions more people would be alive today, I'm guessing.
This whole matter is covered by Politico today -- thank God, you know? -- who introduce the world to the vomitous term "polebrity." For a long time, Politico has been obsessed with the superficial side of politics, but they never really had a venue to just cut loose until they came up with "Click" -- this article's home -- which ably found a way to multiply politics and shallowness and clotted cream and nitrous oxide and tiny cars filled with clowns...SO MANY CLOWNS! HOW DO THEY ALL FIT INSIDE THAT CAR?!
Still, this particular article packs something of a surprise! Here are two differing bits of advice on how politicians should approach the trappings of superficial fame -- one from a Republican consultant, one from "a PR firm that represents Hollywood heavyweights." Names have been omitted, for fun:
1. "The tried-and-true methods to increased visibility are just as effective as ever, says __________________. 'Either get involved in a sex scandal, write a book (easiest way) or run for president,' ______ says. 'Accept every invitation to every cable outlet, learn how to master the art of the sound bite and spend a lot of time in New York and L.A.'"
2. "Although perhaps tempting, actively pursuing movie roles or reality-TV shows isn't the pathway to success, _____ says. 'I wouldn't tell someone to go out and do things to become a celebrity," he says. "If you want to be able to get more done and move up the ladder and do more about the issues you care about, the best thing you can do is raise money and go to one of the party committees. It's the quickest way up the ladder. You want to go out and achieve [name recognition], you have to go work your ass off.'"
As you've probably guessed from my tone, the first bit comes from Republican strategist John Feehery -- and the more lucid, pragmatic take comes from Shawn Sachs, the CEO of P.R. firm Sunshine Sachs. And while Sachs doesn't discount the power of a "YouTube moment" (or the wisdom of just marrying into a political dynasty), his sensible bottom line is just, "Having a broader appeal is a very good thing."
It's almost as if the machinery of celebrity wants to get the cancer of politics removed from its body. Which makes sense!