Top of the Ticket

Political commentary from the LA Times

« Previous Post | Top of the Ticket Home | Next Post »

Today, I announce my support for what's-his-name

October 4, 2007 |  2:12 am

Of all the silliness that goes on in American political campaigns, perhaps the goofiest gimmick is the individual endorsement. Think about it. Do you really care in the least who anyone outside your family says they're going to vote for? So someone who gets $10 million for 90 days' work on a movie says they like Candidate A. What's that got to do with anything real?

OK, Oprah and Bo Derek's endorsements matter. And maybe Brett Favre. But beyond them, who cares?

And yet you would not believe the investment of time and resources and money that every campaign puts into collecting a list of those people prepared to publicly say they like them. Not because it matters. But because if they don't, an opponent might get the meaningless endorsement. The campaigns actually keep running tallies like scorecards.

Virtually every campaign--well, maybe not Ron Paul and Mike Gravel--has staff people assigned to woo mayors, county chairmen, state legislators, you name them with the idea of an eventual endorsement. They'll call them to check in. They'll stop by to touch base. They'll provide a photo of their candidate personally signed by a machine to the potential endorser--"To Gerry, A great American."

If the endorser is really important, the staffer will pass a request up the chain of command for a personal phone call from the candidate, which they make by the dozens in the car between photo ops. Any excuse will do--birthday, anniversary, kid's birthday, flying over the same state. The candidate and the possible endorser will chat. And maybe someday down the road, when the communications director wants some free media publicity, they'll schedule a photo op and issue a news release that reads like every other endorsement news release in the history of politics.

The endorser will say that he/she knows the candidate well, has studied their positions closely, believes they understand the needs and dreams of (insert state here) and is absolutely certain that the candidate will provide the kind of leadership that America needs in these troubled times.

The candidate will say he/she is aware of all the endorser has done for his/her constituents, that he/she is deeply honored and extremely proud to have the endorsement of such a fine American and how much he/she will count on his/her advice and counsel going forward in this, the most important presidential election in our nation's history. For the cameras, they will shake hands way too long for a normal handshake; maybe they'll raise their hands in the air, all smiles and applause.

And no one will care.

How refreshing it would be someday if they each just spoke the truth.

"You know, my fellow Americans, I actually just met this candidate for the first time in that bus over there. I really don't know him that well. But he and his people have been calling me for weeks and that makes me feel real important, and I know that if, in fact, he is elected president of these United States, someday I may be able to reach a low-level staff aide in the White House to make a pitch for something that will make me look good back here in this community."

And the candidate will say he doesn't really know much about this county except that it contains a lot of his party's primary voters and his staff tells him that this guy endorsing him was overwhelmingly reelected last time, so he must be well-liked locally, and here's hoping some of that liking rubs off, all right?

"I am deeply honored and proud to accept the endorsement of (insert first name here) and his lovely wife (her name here). Believe me when I say his reputation is well-known by many Americans. My staff has Googled him and checked for criminal records, child-support back payments, and nothing turned up. We don't really know much about what he's done to improve life here, if anything. But he's helped our local fundraising big-time.

"But in the few minutes we've known each other, I'm going to say that we're going to make a great team leading America to a new, even brighter future and building a better (county name here) and a stronger United States. I'm also going to say without any basis in fact that we both understand the horrible threats that face our land today at home and abroad and the urgent need to (insert campaign theme here). So thank you, (name). Thank you, (county). And God bless America."

Now that would be an endorsement worth blogging about.

--Andrew Malcolm

Comments 

Advertisement