What the Chuck Huck?

No doubt we are all getting our fill of the primaries happening left, right and center. With the writer’s strike in Hollywood, we are a bit starved for entertainment and to be honest with you, I think that might be good: Americans are forced to talk to each other and read a newspaper.

So the primaries are happening and the politicians are out in full force highlighting their positives and others’ negatives. What I find fascinating are the celebrity endorsements of political candidates. For someone who is relatively new to the way of American Politics, I thought celebrity endorsements seem to be a trend of later development. I was amazed to read that in fact, this trend developed almost 100 years ago. Ross K. Baker on USA Today’s Opinion page educated me in the story of the relationship between celebrity and the powers that be in Washington.(http://blogs.usatoday.com/oped/2007/12/celebrity-endo.html)

I had no idea that this whole relationship came to be when Warren Harding’s campaign for president was supported by a group of Broadway celebrities in the 1920’s. In the 1930’s though, is when it really took hold as FDR was backed by many celebrities including a young Ronald Reagan who would later become the 40th President of the United States (1981-1989). Baker points out that it was at this time that the attachment of the entertainment sector to the Democratic Party also developed.

However, the question is – do celebrity endorsements help or hinder the political road to the Whitehouse?
The problem with celebrity endorsement is the word ‘celebrity’ – it has been attached to almost anyone who had made it into the news whether good or bad. Bad celebrities have devalued the term and as a result, many people are not swayed by a celebrity endorsement, stating that celebrities should stick to what they know. Let’s take Oprah – many say that if she knows so much then she should run. But on the flip side – the do attract attention. We can only wonder if Obama would have pulled the huge crowds he pulled, if there was no Oprah. Many interviewed in the crowd said they were there to see Oprah. She brought them there so that Obama gets a platform with them to state his case.

E-Poll held an online survey of 2,237 voting Americans during September 2007, to check the impact of celebrity endorsements on potential voters (http://www.epollresearch.com/ or http://www.epoll.com/) and only 16% of those polled said that such an endorsement would impact the decision they make.

Obama seems to have made the spot on choice for his celebrity mate – 20% of respondents on the E-Poll survey said that Oprah had the largest impact on them. She is closely followed by George Clooney, Angelina Jolie, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Bono and Al Gore. So Obama has the top two…impressive…maybe.

The top ‘negative’ celebrities are (and there are no surprises here) Rosie O’Donnell, Tom Cruise, Madonna, Jane Fonda and Donald Trump. But surprisingly 10% of respondents said that despite it maybe being a celebrity that they like, such an endorsement might result in a negative perception of the candidate anyway.

It is interesting to note that the most impressionable group who would be influenced by celebrity endorsements is the 18-24 year-olds. Their choices of celebrities include Oprah, Jon Stewart, Leornardo Di Caprio, Johnny Depp and Brad Pitt.

When it comes to Barrack Obama – the combination of his charismatic charm, eloquence and the ability to speak to the younger generation, teamed up with Oprah seems to be a winning combination. However, if not played carefully it could come back to bite him in the proverbial butt. But as we stand here watching the primary in New Hampshire, it seems he took a gamble that is paying off.

Hillary’s biggest asset was not seen to be the supposed support of celebrities such as Barbra Streisand, John Grisham or even Maya Angelou. Everyone assumed that her biggest endorsement carrying with it a lot of weight is the former President Bill Clinton. It was the unspoken ‘two for one deal’ – how could we go wrong with that. But even the popularity of Bill is maybe hampered by memories of Monica, Whitewater and Kenneth Star. And in comparison to the apparently skeleton-free closet of Barrack, there seems to be a lot of baggage in the Clinton camp which is too heavy to drag to Washington.

My most fascinating endorsement however, is the Chuck for the Huck. Here is a slimmed down former preacher who is endorsed by a roundhouse kicking tough guy whose programs glorified violence. They must be really really good friends in real life because this is an endorsement that is laughable at best. To add to this amusing situation is Huckabee’s joke that Chuck will make an excellent Secretary of Defense. Oh my goodness, why did I not think of that – we could send Chuck Norris in to sort out Iraq and the Middle East, and the rest of the ‘worrying’ nations will quake and bow to the great Walker, Texas Ranger…

So I am waiting to see who else steps up to the plate and whether Huckabee is onto to something. A comment on the Hotline (http://www.hotlineblog.nationaljournal.com/) from Chad sums it up: “The Race is over. Chuck Norris has spoken…”

I feel a roundhouse kick coming on…

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~ by ski holidays on January 6, 2008.

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