Friday, February 17, 2017

The #TrumpMeetsTrudeau handshake: The Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump showdown

US President Donald Trump met Canadian PM Justin Trudeau for the first time last week. It was a cordial affair between neighboring leaders featuring a roundtable discussion of Women in Business alongside Ivanka Trump and several females CEOs from both countries.

However the enduring narrative from the visit were the handshakes, a commonplace but time-honored tradition. Memes circulated about how adeptly Prime Minister Trudeau maneuvered against Trump's infamous handshake style.

VIDEO: Trump's awkward handshakes with World Leaders

What do we make of the fascination behind the showdown. Why were so many people invested in a handshake?
That Viral Photo of Justin Trudeau and Donald Trump Is Not What It Seems
… We live in a new normal of misinformation sharing, one where falsities are pushed as truths by the highest levels of power. And so people are grasping for images that either back up their preexisting notions or turn the mainstream narrative on its head, and then sharing with their followers to further the reach.
In this case, a confrontation between western democracy's top babyface (hero) and top heel (villain). The dreamboat liberal, Justin Trudeau against divisive celebrity mogul, Donald Trump. Both men are evenly matched and have overlapping qualities despite their philosophical differences. They're similarly privileged sons who've capitalised off their father's name and have a keen understanding of stagecraft to bypass traditional media.
Is Trudeau the ultimate image manipulator? Not quite 
Traditional media are weakening, social media and online media strengthening, and the latter feast on image and celebrity. Of course, the Prime Minister’s Office counts on new media to counterbalance the traditional skeptical coverage of old media.
Justin Trudeau headlining ‘Fight for the Cure 5' (2012).
Donald Trump in the Main Event of WrestleMania 23 (2007)
Interestingly both men used blockbuster fight events as a springboard for their Presidential ambitions. With their outsized personas and rabid following as champions for diametrically opposed world views. A showdown between these bordering leaders is a promoter's dream, the ultimate matchup. Even the thought of a clash provides catharsis.

The audience knows what they want
To best sell a fight its ideal that both fighters come in strong and to have juice behind them. In wrestling the positive reaction a fighter gets is called a "Pop". The negative reaction,"Heat". This was evident on Twitter timelines with varied reactions to #TrudeauMeetsTrump depending on one’s political leanings.

A change in orientation (turn) from hero to villain or vice versa is commonplace in wrestling. Not so in politics as flip-flopping is ordinarily viewed as political suicide. Reinvention is integral to wrestling, characters change gimmicks and switch allegiances to keep audiences engaged. There's also the opening for a glorious return to form, a reboot of their persona. Interestingly this mirrors the transformation of public figures like Trump and successful celebrity cum politicians before him. Such as Governors, Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger. It's worth noting all three are in the WWE hall of fame.

In today's partisan times its rare for politicians to cross the aisle to get matters resolved, let alone switch parties. Those who do are generally viewed with skepticism, seen as pariahs from both sides. The antidote to this is having the support of the people. To fashion yourself as a "maverick", an outsider taking on the establishment. With the correct gimmick and the unwavering support of your fans you can get away with anything. The same in wrestling goes for Politics.

Irreverent wrestler "Stone Cold" Steve Austin had license to assault respected celebrities and an elderly woman. Likewise, Trump’s popularity and charisma inoculated him from scandals that would have felled previous politicians. Inexplicably, stoushes with war heroes and the Pope only strengthened his aura.
Whilst a duel between Trump and Trudeau would be a major draw, it will unlikely yield what political partisans are after. Especially the #NeverTrumpers longing for a bogeyman to finally dethrone the Donald. Annihilation is only possible through the erosion of public support, the key is preserving relevancy. As main event fighters and image savvy personas, Trump and Trudeau understand this. If both men remain standing, the rival fanbases would only become further entrenched rather than converted by defeat.

In wrestling, the slightest event can trigger a program. A stolen action figure or a spilled coffee cup could foreshadow a future rivalry. Donald Trump is not known for his subtlety, he telegraphs his intentions through tweets and isn't afraid to make enemies. Conversely, Trudeau takes after Barack Obama. The former top babyface and Trump's predecessor, a sensible diplomat who'll be restrained in his engagement with the World's Most Powerful Man. The social media response over the handshake teases the excitement that would come off a Trump/Trudeau face-off. I just wouldn't force it.

Friday, February 3, 2017

Introducing @NicoDenoir, the finest Politics is Wrestling Twitter account today

The Politics is Wrestling meme went mainstream in 2016 with Donald Trump's ascension and ultimate conquest of American Politics. As the #1 resource for the analogy, I've tracked the growth of 'Politics is Wrestling' since 2007. In the early days it was easier to find mentions of the meme as it wasn't in vogue yet. Prior to Trump, the original meme torchbearer was Jesse Ventura. The WWE Hall of Famer turned Minnesota Governor taught classes at Harvard in 2004 on how Pro-Wrestling prepares you for Politics. In 2010 the Daily Show brought the meme to the mainstream in a segment featuring Wyatt Cenac and wrestler Mick Foley. 

Today we're inundated with a deluge of stories and blog posts on how Politics is Wrestling. Taking hiatus from the blog when there were murmurs of a Trump Presidential run in 2011, I'd been out of the loop as far as storylines went. 

That was until I discovered @nicodenoir on Twitter, he's been my biggest source for keeping up to date with 'Politics is Wrestling'. Nico introduced me to Brandon Wetherbee and Chris Kelly, co-authors of 'The Donald: How Trump Turned Presidential Politics into Pro Wrestling' and the 'Great American Bash' podcast. He connected me with the 'Review America' podcast with Brian Mann and Nate Milton. Both podcasts discussing American Politics through the prism of Pro-Wrestling and founded July, 2016.

I got in touch with Nico to find more about him and get his take looking back on 2016. I'd hoped to release this by Inauguration Day but decided I wanted to crank up my animations again. Expect to see more Pundits added to the existing roster of PunditFighters and changes to some of the original cast. I'm toying with the idea of creating a stable for the best champions of the 'Politics is Wrestling' meme.


1. What's your relationship with Wrestling and Politics, how long have you been engaged with both?
 After graduating from Concordia University in Political Science, I spent over a decade in Canadian federal politics as an executive in communications, while also having been involved in the American 08’ New Hampshire presidential primaries.

My expertise is in public relations, speech writing and campaign management. My first wrestling memory is walking under the hot and arid Stampede Wrestling tent at the age of 5 in Calgary. At my first live wrestling event, I saw WWF Intercontinental Champion Randy Savage vs. Ricky Steamboat in a No DQ Match, at the Montreal Forum in 1987.

I've been with the International Wrestling Syndicate since its inception in 1999, holding various roles with them behind-the-scenes over the years, while being currently involved as a public relations and social media consultant.

2. Explain your interest in the Politics is Wrestling analogy. How did you first come up with or come across the idea? 

 I first noticed the relationship between pro wrestling and politics while studying speech writing in College and falling onto the famous Dusty Rhodes 'Hard Times' promo. To this day, I still think that promo may arguably be the greatest political speech ever.

3. What were your 5 favorite Politics is Wrestling links for 2016, providing some background?
After Linda's failed senatorial races representing the Republican Party in Connecticut, once Chris Christie dropped out of the presidential race, the McMahon’s rallied behind their old friend Trump. The McMahon donation to the Trump campaign assured Linda's candidacy for appointment.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
While everyone's focus was on Trump, Rhyno also ran for politics this year, doing a great job in his campaign which was highly substantial in local policies. He also continued to perform as a wrestler on the SmackDown brand throughout his campaign.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dwayne Johnson has alluded in passing to entering politics, but this year was his coming out in affirming his interest in running for the highest office. Ironically, US politicians generally deny until the last minute their intentions to run for President, but obviously for The Rock, "it doesn't matter what you think".
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
I used these two incidences as an exercise to demonstrating the different ways a mistake can be publicly confronted, as the Democrats denied wrong-doing by deflecting the blame, Reigns faced his situation head-on by admitting fault and apologising.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
While many speculated that Trump was using the professional wrestling playbook during his campaign, it was this Meet The Press interview that confirmed this reality, most notably from Vince McMahon's congratulatory call for the Republican National Convention entrance.

4. How would you best describe 2016? 
2016 was the year where the analogy of politics as wrestling was legitimized by the Trump candidacy. While Jesse Ventura has been playing this up all along since his mandate as Governor of Minnesota, it hadn't hit the American mainstream until now. By the end of last summer, politics as wrestling was on everyone’s mind.

Looking forward, it remains to be seen what effect the Trump campaign will have on others in the wrestling industry who have future political aspirations including Glenn Jacobs (Kane), Booker T, Cody Rhodes, Dwayne Johnson and quite possibly John Cena.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Remember the Rumble: Donald Trump, Election 2016 wallpaper

Donald Trump and Election 2016 wallpaper
and why we should "Remember the Rumble"
Only a week into the Trump presidency and many people remain in a state of disbelief and denial that there's a new Sheriff in town. Trump is the first President to arrive into power with a sub 50% approval rating, his second day in office met with a wave of oppositional marches that overshadowed the crowd figures at his Inauguration. Not one to take disapproval lying down Trump snidely tweeted
The President's Senior Counselor Steve Bannon adding "The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while". Whilst it appears like weeping and gnashing of teeth from Trump's detractors it's best described as blind fury. In pugilistic fashion, Trump has worked his opponents into a frenzy with goading rhetoric that aims to distract and debase them.
This is why it doesn’t matter when Donald Trump lies by Joe Hildebrand
Unfortunately many in the American left and liberal media still seem wholly incapable of seeing what drove Donald Trump to power and are thus hopelessly ill-equipped to remove him from it. The only trick in the playbook seems to be to dig up one more scandal, one more "gotcha" moment, and hope that this will be the one that sinks him.

If Einstein is right that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result then it’s not Trump who is the crazy one...

Instead of getting outraged by everything he says over and over again or protesting his very existence, Trump's opponents should find out why people voted for him in the first place and offer them a better alternative.

After all, if he's as bad as they say he is how hard can that be?
Its worth noting that Trump successfully divided and conquered opposition from his right flank, from Fox News to the National Review #NeverTrumpers. He also gave the last rites to both the Bush and Clinton dynasties. Trump has deftly fashioned friends and enemies across multiple, often unorthodox lines. Successfully repurposing the broad, bipartisan discontent on issues (trade, voter registration) and groups (Congress, the Media) to suit his ends. Redefining the playbook for modern politics, overlooked is how Trump revealed that voters weren't as monolithic as previously thought. Demonstrating its possible for a leader to convince supporters to accept sworn enemies, welcome"alternative facts" and forgive conflicts of interest.

A potpourri of policies offered by the right Salesman may be dutifully adopted especially if one is content to win only marginal support. Brandon Wetherbee and Chris Kelly, authors of 'The Donald: How Trump Turned Presidential Politics into Pro Wrestling' frames Hildebrand's prescription thusly
The Great American Bash "Heel President" (Nov 9, 2016)
CHRIS KELLY: (18m 25s) That's the thing, we just miscalculated that the heel would get his comeuppance now. Cuz there's still "heat" to get
BRANDON WETHERBEE: I got a text last night saying -- What happens to the Heel when he wins? Well he just keeps winning.
KELLY: He just keeps winning until there's a good challenger that you actually want to be the face of the Company...
We need to be reminded that Trump vanquished a gauntlet of opposition from both sides of the aisle. His audacious boast that he "could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody" without losing voters chillingly proved true. It'll be a tall order finding a challenger as teflon as the Don but the candidate pool has broadened, rival billionaire Mark Cuban indicating "I think it did open a door, I think he's set a path for entrepreneurs, for business people".

The road to the White House starts at the Rumble
Using the upcoming WWE PPV as inspiration, I've made a new wallpaper to remind voter's of the alternatives paths offered and what Trump's conquest in spite monumental doubts signifies. Reminiscent of Colbert's 'Hungry for Power Games', I've appropriated the tagline for this year's Royal Rumble in San Antonio. Whilst the theme is "Remember the Rumble", I have a feeling the aftershocks of this Political Earthquake will remain a constant until the Big One returns in 4 years.

- National Review "Against Trump" wallpaper: The GOP 2016 Royal Rumble

Sunday, January 15, 2017

This is Alex Jones and Donald Trump's America now: Hannity and Tucker on the rise. Glenn Beck and MSM on the decline

It's been months since my last post and obviously a lot has happened. We have a new President, one that no one expected outside of the few true believers. With that comes a shift in the power structure of the Pundit Class. Anyone who follows me on Twitter would have noticed my fixation on Alex Jones and Donald Trump. Both epitomize the Politics is Wrestling analogy. They understand showmanship and the cult of personality and have capitalised on it to emerge as the most influential voices in American Politics.
'Politics is Wrestling' on major News publications in 2016:
The Atlantic, Rolling Stone, NY Times, Washington Post etc...
Whilst I've tracked the 'Politics is Wrestling' analogy for 10 years, the rise and conquest of Donald Trump and Alex Jones took me by surprise. Donald Trump was the undisputed star of the Election cycle. Overlooked in Trump's deftness at bypassing the MSM was how he mollified Rush Limbaugh, the traditional gatekeeper for the Right. Trump also boldly challenged Fox News, fracturing them into two factions. The Sean Hannity and Megyn Kelly wings, the Champions and skeptics respectively of the Trump movement. Hannity's winning gamble for Trump positions him as the official media surrogate for POTUS45. Megyn Kelly, destined for a payday regardless takes her talents to NBC where she'll have to resettle her footing with different stablemates and a broader audience.

Another pundit whose fortunes have been shaped by Trump is Glenn Beck. He put his stock on Ted Cruz for GOP nominee and was the defacto figurehead of the #NeverTrump resistance. Beck fashioned himself as the voice for principled Conservatism, poised to pick up the pieces after the seemingly inevitable Trump and subsequent GOP collapse. Trump's improbable victory made the public wary of Pollsters and News Media but Beck did something Pundits never do, show contrition. He flagellated himself on various News programs, making a show of aligning with Satirical News host Samantha Bee. After rising to the top of the Pundit power rankings a few years previous, a humbled Beck explores a new gimmick to face the Trump era.

Matt Taibbi weighing in on Donald Trump's tweet.
Not to be outdone, Alex Jones shot back at Matt.
One media personality ascendant with Trump's rise is Alex Jones, an outlandish broadcaster with fringe ideas. Entertaining but otherwise innocuous, his program taps into the worst imaginings of libertarians. These views amplified and validated as Trump echoed them and began winning over crowds. "Birtherism" was the springboard for Trump's candidacy, this and conspiracies like them had been Alex Jones' stock and trade for over 20 years. Hillary Clinton and President Obama often referenced Alex and aimed to discredit Trump by pairing them together.

Whilst other Right-Wing pundits vacillated during the primaries, checking the pulse of the masses before supporting a candidate. Alex Jones with the endorsement of Trump was becoming the zeitgeist.

VIDEO: Alex Jones exposes Beck/Savage/Limbaugh (2010)
ALEX JONES: Here's the deal, I'm an alternative, grassroots radio host that isn't part of the Left-Right paradigm. I don't let myself be put in a box, OK. It would appear that I'm allies with Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Michael Savage and others right now... because I'm opposing everything Obama is doing. Limbaugh, Beck and others aren't opposing Obama on the War, they're saying he's not doing enough...

But as soon as they're in power, unless we really we get real leadership in there it is only going to continue, the Democrats will suddenly be Anti-Establishment. I'm Anti-Establishment and a constitutionalist no matter whose in power... I'm into facts, I'm into issues. I'm into how things actually work, OK. And I know the Government gets bigger and we lose freedoms no matter who's in there because of Global, private interests. Again I don't sit up here bashing these guys all day, of the three you mentioned I think Savage has always been the best...

All I'm saying is in three years when you get a Republican you're gonna hate me. A lot of you Republicans now love me just like when Democrats liked me when Bush was in. And then when Republicans get in you're gonna hate me. Liberals hate me now Conservatives love me. Folks you gotta grow up. I mean c'mon, some how you've got to grow up and get the facts. Somehow you've got to shatter the Left-Right paradigm. Please!
Jones and Trump represent a paradigm shift, the rise of Alternative and Independent Media. Not beholden to decorum and the rigours of Mainstream politics, they command a sizeable audience that they communicate to directly. Operating outside the traditional ecosystem of Pundits and Politicians, they have noone to answer to but the people who brought them to power.
APF Extreme Rules: Billy Bush, Hillary Clinton VS Donald Trump and Alex Jones
I originally crafted this graphic to highlight the popularity of Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, a year when voters were clamoring for an outsider. After Bernie was ousted, I tweaked it for my series of PPV posters hyping each debate. This was for the second showdown, on the heels of the lewd leaked video that seemed to be the elusive silver bullet to fell the Trump campaign.
They say "What doesn't kill you, only makes you stronger". After overcoming the gauntlet from the Left and the Right, Alex Jones and Donald Trump are incredibly powerful and by all accounts thus far - impervious.

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Daniel Horowitz on how "Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Pro-Wrestling". How the fake fight is debasing American Politics.

Daniel Horowitz laments to his audience how Conservatives have forsaken their ideals, engaging in rhetorical fights that have the appearance of conviction whilst not actually standing up for traditional principles.

CONSERVATIVE CONSCIENCE | Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Professional Wrestling
DANIEL HOROWITZ: (1m 27s) What we have going on nowadays is a phony conservative party, a phony Presidential nominee, a phony conservative media... where you basically have a false flag operation where everyone's yelling and fighting. There's a lot of acrimony but when you peel back what's going on they're fighting over nothing...
That's today's topic -- Republicans VS Democrats is as real as Professional Wrestling. WWE!
You see the bodyslams and the chairs, knocking the guy's heads in. This and that, all the noise but its fake, there's nothing going on. That's exactly what today's political discourse is. Today's political reality is. And I want to go through the news of the day, what's really important for Conservatives to focus on and through that we'll come to the conclusion that the Republican Party on the Presidential level, the Congressional level and at the Conservative Media level engage in a fake fight with the Left when it really matters and how it debases who we are and moves the contours of the political debate inexorably to the left and also into the gutter...
We are everything the left is, minus some change. Minus some pennies... this is not just on fiscal policy. This is on who we are as people. This is on morality, this is on culture. This is who we are. This phony, binary fight where everyone gets wrapped up in -- "Oh man, everything's going to hinge on what happens". Its all fake. Its all fake wrestling... lots of fireworks in that debate. How many policy statements were really in contention? How much did they really disagree on?
Lots of insults traded. But over what? Because you're the Red Team and I'm the Blue Team so we have to fight...
The phoniness accentuated this Presidential Election as both parties promote deeply flawed and unfavourable nominees. Policy wise both candidates are more centrist than their base would prefer whilst conversely representing the most partisan figurehead imaginable for their opposition. A tricky balancing act for any would-be supporters.

The gravitational force this election has undoubtedly been Donald Trump, a unique political animal. A celebrity businessman with wrestling bona fides. He has leveraged his sturdy following and "Crash TV" appeal to commandeer the GOP and the media. Arguably the entire political process. Writer Virginia Heffernann offers her take on how a seasoned statesman like Hillary has had to bend to this pehnomenon albeit a political novice
TRUMPCAST | The Boys on the Bus
VIRGINA HEFFERNAN: (5m 23s) In this great book from years ago called the 'Epistemology of the Closet' by Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick... There's this wonderful moment where she talks about bilingualism and the dominant position of someone who only speaks one language, even one dialect the way Trump does. This coarse dialect that he has.

She cites [US President] Reagan and [French President] Mitterand. Mitterand was super-worldly and spoke French and English. Reagan only spoke English and so they always negotiated in English, so Mitterand's always in his second language. And Trump always gets to talk like this and everybody else -- because most women are familiar with this idiom. Hillary Clinton is certainly familiar with this idiom but has had to completely abandon her way of talking and her way of comporting herself to have a conversation on this level
JACOB WEISBERG: Right, he defines the terms of the debate
Jacob Weisberg expands on the point in a later episode, citing how Trump's competitors resorted to mimicry as his brash presentation proved a winning formula for the primary
TRUMPCAST Extra: The "Grabfest Post Debate Special" Edition
JACOB WEISBERG: (14m 46s) There's the Marco Rubio example, I mean he's [Trump] trying to drag you down to his level. If you respond to him at his level, although it could be satisfying in the moment and everybody kind of wants it. Its almost definitely a mistake because at that point people are saying "Oh, the problem is both candidates -- its this campaign, the campaign is disgusting." and to refrain from being disgusting and respond to someone who's treating you vilely is really hard and takes a lot of discipline
Jacob and Daniel have divergent political interests but raise similar concerns about the lowering standards of American Politics
DANIEL HOROWITZ: (20m 18s) Imagine if all of Talk Radio, if all the internet sites, if all the concerns people are focused on would focus on what's important. Would lead a movement that's important. Would lead a movement that we can be proud of. Instead this is what we've become. Its all this, this is WWE. Its all an entertainment now. Its all entertainment business. Complete nonsense, this whole thing is immoral. But this is how you shift the contours of the debate permanently... If we don't fundamentally change the movement, if we don't fundamentally change the game we've already lost anyway...

We've become desensitized because again the Left is so evil and immoral but the more immoral they get we can always point to the fact we're one or two steps less immoral than them so you can create a fake fight over that. "You're this and I'm that. Well you did this". Meanwhile the more immoral and evil they get, the more immoral and evil we get. Cuz we keep getting schlepped over with them. So by engaging in that fight you're almost validating and consummating that degree, its like that ratchet theory we talk about. You hone in, you lock it in. You can only keep moving forward but not backwards. You already lost it.
Sadly the spectacle and team sports aspects of American Politics are big drawcards for casual watchers. Trump has capitalised on his name recognition and showmanship to deliver an engaging product, electrifying his populist base and enthralling everyone else. Whilst the debasing of political discourse has depressed donor funding, the "Trump effect" has increased public engagement and become a boon for News Networks. In Combat Sports anything goes when you're selling a fight, competitors are forgiven for throwing missiles and brawling at Press Conferences because promoters know all publicity is good and whets the audiences' appetite.

Trump has been a perfect ratings vehicle, his thirst for attention driving his popularity, the "fight" between Trump and the Media mutually beneficial. Tapping into the Reality TV zeitgeist, if a Presidency doesn't pan out the "Trump Show " could spin-off into a Media Empire. Wyatt Cenac once said on the 'Daily Show' -- "You think politicians wanna win their arguments when all they really wanna do is keep having them. They know arguments are interesting, they energize voters, they keep the money flowing in.".

Some have played "chicken" with Trump because he represents a foil for the GOP. As people like Jacob Weisberg and Daniel Horowitz have asserted, we might be allowing the "Trump Show" to take down American Politics altogether.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

The 2016 Vice Presidential Debate Wallpaper: Tim Kaine VS Mike Pence

NXT Arrival: Mike Pence VS Tim Kaine
Keepin' it 1600 | Ep. 38: VP Debate React and State of the Race

JON FAVREAU: (16m 50s) It was jarring to see normal candidates talking right?
TOMMY VIETOR: In full sentences about issues
FAVREAU: The same way that watching the Clinton debates in the Primaries against Bernie were sort of boring and a totally different feeling than that involving Trump. This had that feeling again. Normal Politics was suddenly back. We were talking about issues. It was almost depressing because as entertaining as the other thing is, its horrible.
VIETOR: What it makes you realise is that there is hope for us after Trump. We can get past Trump. Politics is still really f*cked up but we can go back to debates like that. Except there is a lot of lying, lying with impunity is still a problem
The only Vice Presidential debate took place Tuesday, sandwiched between the First and Second Presidential showdowns. Most political watchers see the VP debates as only marginally consequential especially in contrast to the outsized personalities involved at the top of the ticket, the Main Event. Being that both Hillary and Donald are the oldest nominees to contest for the Presidency some lip service was paid. The VP debate offered a seemingly singular opportunity for the public to be introduced to Mike Pence and Tim Kaine head to head with under 40 days left before voting.
The general consensus among pundits was that Mike Pence won, largely on presentation. He was measured in his tone, sidestepping many of the charges Tim Kaine laid at his feet. Kaine whilst being more substantive was mostly dismissed due to his constant interruptions of Pence and the moderator, a mishandling of the permitted "discussion" format. Mike Pence' credentials as a former Radio Talker often cited for his deftness on the stage.

Inforwars: Live feed of the VP Debate
LA Times: Scoring the Vice Presidential Debate
Several outlets employed the Combat sports analogy, de rigeur this election season and moving forward I suspect. Infowars used a boxing graphic to accompany their live election feed. The LA Times went with a Greco-Roman wrestling motif, complete with Judges' scorecards.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

First Presidential Debate Wallpaper: PAYBACK

APF presents 'PAYBACK':
Presidential Debate I. Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY)
There's an adage in combat sports, "Styles make fights". Not unlike Rock–Paper–Scissors, attributes become advantages or impediments depending on what they're matched with. Trump's striking VS Clinton's resilience. His passion VS her poise. The Unorthodox VS the Seasoned. Business Outsider VS Political Insider. Reflex VS Preparedness. In the upcoming Presidential Debate, we'll finally see what shakes out from the "Styles Clash" between Republican Nominee Donald Trump and Democratic stalwart Hillary Clinton.

In the inaugural episode of the 'Race to the White House' podcast, Associate Professor Brendon O'Connor summarises the competing styles and why It's difficult to predict how it'll go down.


Race to the White House - Episode 1
BRENDON O'CONNOR: (18m 53s) There's two ways of approaching Politics. One way is to be very policy-oriented, which forces you to think about process and costings... and there's another way of seeing Politics as a symbolic business. That you're about making people feel good about themselves, that politics is very therapeutic. That you talk about America being a great place or making America great again. You talk about things that are to some extent fantastical, like "Change" or putting up a wall between United States and Mexico. And there's no real possibility that you could bring about a process really to get these things into action. They're about reassuring Americans, I like to call it Public Self-Help talk. They're about soothing people and saying that everything's going to be OK. We're still going to be a great or exceptional nation. Politics has gone along that path, every election in America since the 1970's. It's just gone along more and more in that regard.

Trump in some ways is the extreme end of that Therapeutic Politics that really overpromises on a sense of something that is illusionary, something that is a fantasy but its gonna soothe the American public. That is gonna sound reassuring or different.
Where Hillary Clinton is a throwback in some regards. She's a Policy wonk. She's someone where her clear strengths are when she talks about details and process and so you have quite the contrast...

How you campaign against Donald Trump as Hillary Clinton is very challenging and when you debate him as we'll see in the coming weeks is even more challenging because you're speaking a totally different language. You're not working on the same assumptions. You're not attempting to engage in Politics in the same way.
A strangely overlooked aspect of the upcoming showdown is the shared history between the Clintons and Trump. Whilst photos and stories surface about Trump's cordial relationship with Bill and Hillary, this history has been overshadowed by the polarised rhetoric of Election season. The Clinton's have been such an enduring force in American Politics that although they've become institutional punching bags for the masses, they've also calcified into allies amongst the elite. Hillary released an Ad quoting Donald Trump's praise for her before they were pitted as opponents.

You can peruse Trump's Twitter timeline for a trail of his enemies, anyone who's wronged him gets mentioned and pilloried. In person however, he remains affable and conciliatory. Trump and Jeb chummily low-fived despite relentless attacks in the Debates. Though he launched his campaign with contentious rhetoric towards Mexico, Trump was gracious towards Mexican President Nieto during their face-to-face. Trump employed a winning defense during the GOP Primary, reversing his coziness with Hillary into a spiel about Business buying Political access. Everything's fair game when you're selling a fight. It'll be interesting to see how real the bad blood is when they finally step in the ring.

Best friends, Bitter enemies:
Donald Trump & Hillary Clinton. Sami Zayn & Kevin Owens
Watch how Wrestling sells a feud between former best friends, Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens. The shared history heightens the drama and raises the stakes for their match. Their intimate knowledge of each other offers the possibility of deeper cuts and tangled motivations. In the Wrestling example we're keenly aware of the theatre in repurposing their relationship into a compelling feud. I wonder how much we'll sense from Hillary and Donald's friendship once they finally clash.

VIDEO: NXT Champion Sami Zayn and Kevin Owens tell their history

Mirroring the showdowns between Sami and Kevin. I'll be making Presidential Debate Wallpapers using the WWE PPV timeline, starting with 'PAYBACK'.

Update:
After Trump rival and Businessman, Mark Cuban tweeted he had front row seats for the First Presidential Debate. Trump, in true heel fashion threatened to put Gennifer Flowers alongside him. Flowers had an affair with Former President Bill Clinton whilst he was Governor of Arkansas.
Gennifer Flowers and Mark Cuban ringside at #HofDebate16
Update: Gennifer Flowers won't be attending the Debate. Trump's guests include a Benghazi attack survivor and Gold Star mother among others.