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Tilting at Windmills

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June 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

HILLARY'S SONG....OK, I have to admit that Hillary Clinton's latest spot is pretty cute. She sure is a lousy actress, though. Luckily, we're electing a president, not an actress, so who cares?

Can't say that I like the song pick much, though. But then, we're electing a president, not a deejay, so who cares?

POSTSCRIPT: Seriously, though, voice lessons would probably gain her a couple million votes. Ditto for some of the other candidates. Do they just not get this? Or have they tried and failed? Or what? Considering how important media spots are to modern campaigns, it's astonishing that so few candidates really seem to take this seriously.

Kevin Drum 1:53 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (65)

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Comments

Hey Kevin,

As Hotline rightly points out...Celine's CANADIAN.

Not that I've got anything against the Great White North, eh. But CELINE!? Yuck. I guess Rush, the Barenaked Ladies and the Tragically Hip weren't in the running.

Posted by: FRED on June 19, 2007 at 1:57 PM | PERMALINK

A campaign song? Really.

Yes, there are things like campaign songs and other advertising, but the whole point of these is that they should be there to support the campaign, not just gimmicks.

I could not possibly tell you if I've ever heard the song, but since Celine Dion popularized it, I'm sure it will be quite annoying to me. Don't rely on me for critiquing pop culture, though. I much prefer something with words by Schiller and music by Beethoven.

Posted by: freelunch on June 19, 2007 at 1:58 PM | PERMALINK

Take voice lessons? My god, can you imagine what the press would do with that??? It would be bigger than Edward's haircut. Please, don't suggest it.

Posted by: Sandy on June 19, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

The Clintons have a history of choosing dorky-ass campaign songs. Whatcha gonna do?

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 2:06 PM | PERMALINK

Acting lessons, too. I'm always surprised they don't do that. They could improve their televised appearances (not to mention ad spots) considerably.

Posted by: Royko on June 19, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Kevin, if it were to get out that a candidate was taking voice lessons it would just be one more story to throw on top of the "he/she isn't authentic" pile of BS. In theory it they would be beneficial, but it would be a mess to explain once the information got out. Actors such as a Reagan or a Thompson conveniently don't have to deal with those questions though since it is assumed their jobs would have required it somewhere along the way.

Posted by: Chris Peterson on June 19, 2007 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

True enough, Chris, but people like Mrs. Clinton have had public speaking as a central element of their careers for literally decades prior to running for President. It is a bit of a wonder that they don't more diligently address their skill in this area more quickly. As bad as George W. Bush is in this area, I think Gore could have rendered Florida a nonfactor in 2000 if at some point earlier in his career he had worked harder at being less irritating in his public speaking style. A candidate doesn't have to be the reincarnation of Churchill. Simply being bland will often do just fine.

Posted by: Will Allen on June 19, 2007 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

And of course Obama doesn't need voice lessons because like everything else he's a natural.

Posted by: markg8 on June 19, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

The theory that powerful politicians aren't acting is an interesting one. And very naive. You don't generally get to be Senator or President without a great deal of acting experience. Some think of it as professional acting and others as amateur acting...yet it is acting nonetheless.

Posted by: parrot on June 19, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Chris,

That's also why attorneys with a lot of trial experience generally have an advantage in campaigns. They may not have formally had acting or voice lessons, but they have had mentors in the law firm or prosecutor's office telling them how to speak, how to appear comfortable on stage, how to take time to answer and keep your body relaxed while you are forming your clear, direct, understandable answer. This isn't something that policy wonks learn, unless they've also had a lot of experience teaching intro classes.

Posted by: freelunch on June 19, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Celine Dion, mein gott. I guess it coulda been Kenny G though. Bet that was her secret choice.

I've mentioned this before but I think the Worst Campaign Song Choice Ever was also paradoxically the best song--as such--to appear as a campaign theme, namely "Same As It Ever Was" by Talking Heads. It was Lamarr Alexander's (he of the plaid-shirt gimmick). I guess he just thought the title sounded down-home conservative and somebody told him it was by some bad that was hip to the kids so he'd be getting the best of both worlds or something. But he couldn't possibly have listened to the lyrics ever.

"You may find yourself/Living in a shotgun shack"--honesty in GOP campaign slogans, a rare thing to be sure, but not necessarily good marketing.

"You may say to yourself,/My god, what have I done"--Indeed you may.

"This is not my beautiful house/This is not my large automobile"--Huh?

"Letting the days go by/(water flowing underground)--Da whah?

I just wish somebody for once would have the guts to go with Captain Beefheart. Gravel, maybe; that ad of his shows he's got dadaist potential. Maybe I should go find his site and pitch it to him. "The dust blows forward 'n' the dust blows back." That's the ticket. Right up his alley I bet.

Posted by: DrBB on June 19, 2007 at 2:40 PM | PERMALINK

True Hillary does not have a good voice. It will undoubtedly hurt her. She is inconsistent with it; sometimes she is relaxed and it comes off well. Other times it sounds constricted and a little nasal.

The Celine Dion choice is creatively weak, but defensible, since Dion sold a boatload of records.

Edwards and Obama both use their voices very, very well, in my view.

Posted by: Crab Nebula on June 19, 2007 at 2:52 PM | PERMALINK

First the videos asking for nomination, now this Sopranos spoof -- I'm actually starting to LIKE HRC.

If she could give us more like this, and less of the preaching/triangulating/tweaking the margins, I'd be enthusiastic, and not just resigned.

Posted by: Jim Pharo on June 19, 2007 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

Holy cow, DrBB, I missed that whole Lamar Alexander Talking Heads thing. That is hilarious.

Still, "Letting the Days Go By" does speak to the Republican ethos. "Same as it ever was" is a cry that gets them hot just as it inspires in us liberals a burning desire for change.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 2:56 PM | PERMALINK

no, look, Hillary is Nixon In A Pants Suit, no matter how she might try to sex us up with her secretary-rock theme song. how on earth could anyone vote for her ?

(remember my personal info, bitch!)

Posted by: cleek on June 19, 2007 at 3:02 PM | PERMALINK

Celine fucking DION?!?!?!

She just lost my vote.

Ok, she never had it, but it's the principle.

Posted by: Martin on June 19, 2007 at 3:06 PM | PERMALINK

BTW, that song was first introduced as the official song of Air Canada, about two years ago. Ugh.

Posted by: Beeg on June 19, 2007 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Who decided that the video of she and Bill in the diner was a good idea? And what did it mean? Why was that guy staring at them in the end of it? Huh?

Posted by: CW Lupe Vargas on June 19, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

I like how they sneak in the weird moment with the thug who gives her the menacing look. She stares that guy down. So, you think you're watching some dumb video but really you are secretly being propagandized to. HRC will protect us against the bad guys! Yay! Well, it's not so bad. Emotionalist BS that doesn't promise stupid policy is better than Giuliani's emotionalist BS that does promise stupid policy.

Posted by: mk on June 19, 2007 at 3:27 PM | PERMALINK

"Can't Stop Thinking About Yesterday", with the added advantage that both parties could use it.

Posted by: Saam Barrager on June 19, 2007 at 3:28 PM | PERMALINK

Also, the bit about the carrots was oddly somber.

Posted by: mk on June 19, 2007 at 3:29 PM | PERMALINK

Luckily, we're electing a president, not an actress, so who cares?

Giuliani cares. He wants to be both.

BTW - Anybody remember the RNC trying to use "The Best of Times is Now", until someone pointed out it was from "Cage Au Folles" and sung by a gay man?

Posted by: Joshua Norton on June 19, 2007 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Also, the bit about the carrots was oddly somber.

Yeah. Designed, probably, to take the edge off the "She's a cold and unfeeling wife!" crap she's always getting assailed with. Here she's just like millions of middle-aged wives gently urging their husbands to eat better. Think that will probably resonate with a lot of people.

Posted by: shortstop on June 19, 2007 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

Am I the only American who thinks that it is a travesty that Hillary Clinton is running for President? 300 million people and the best we can do for 20 years is a sequence of Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush...Clinton??? Talk about cultural degeneration.

So, imho, this ad is just designed to sell Bill. Vote Hillary, get Bill back.

As for voices, Ronald Reagan's entire appeal was based on his voice. If he had not had that radio announcer voice, people might have noticed earlier the symptoms of early Alzheimer's. They might have noticed that nothing that he said connected with reality. The meltdown that is Bushco had its origin in RR.

Posted by: PTate in FR on June 19, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

btw, did you catch the one second glimpse of the two following song and artist lists, right after Bill walks in the door:

"Believe"
"Rock this Country"
Shania Twain
"Your Still the One"
"Ain't no stopping us now"

Then,

The Police
"Can't Stand Losing you"
"Get Ready"
The Temptations
"Don't Look Back"
"The Best"

Man, are they going for subliminal crap or what? Do they really sit around coming up with apt song titles?

Me, I'm thinking, "It's the end of the world as we know it" or "Get a Grip" or "Wake Me Up When September Ends." Actually, there are any number of songs that I can imagine would be more appropriate on that list.

Posted by: PTate in FR on June 19, 2007 at 4:22 PM | PERMALINK

She sure is a lousy actress, though. Luckily, we're electing a president, not an actress, so who cares?

Are you kidding? She's a GREAT actress. I especially enjoyed the part where she acts like she loves her husband.

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 19, 2007 at 4:24 PM | PERMALINK

She sure is a lousy actress, though. Luckily, we're electing a president, not an actress, so who cares?

Later, she'll act like she's tough on crime. Then, she'll act like she's against wasteful spending...

Posted by: sportsfan79 on June 19, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

How about "You Can't Always Get What You Want" by the Rolling Stones, especially for the lines:

She was practiced at the art of deception/
Well I could tell by her blood-stained hands

And sportsfan79 is right, she is a great actress.

Posted by: MaxGowan on June 19, 2007 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK
...she'll act like she's tough on crime. Then, she'll act like she's against wasteful spending... sportsfan79 at 4:25 PM
Didn't crime go down in the 90's while it's up now and didn't spending go down in the 90's while it's up now? Obviously it's better to leave the 'acting' presidents in the Republican Party, but let's check with Nancy's astrologer to be sure. Posted by: Mike on June 19, 2007 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Better yet: "Big Eyed Beans From Venus!" That's a song to win with. I'm thinking Rudy, if not Gravel. Rudy could carry it off. He's got that whole dangerous-lunatic thing going that gets GOP voters so hot. BEBFV could be just the thing to put him over the top.

Posted by: DrBB on June 19, 2007 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

That was Mike Gravel staring at her, and in the original, he stared for 7 minutes, but they decided to edit most of it out.

Posted by: BRussell on June 19, 2007 at 5:09 PM | PERMALINK

I was watching the Clintons and the wooden table they were sitting at and I swear to god .........the table had more life.

Posted by: Dublin on June 19, 2007 at 5:12 PM | PERMALINK

The next short by the Clintons will reportedly open with a scene where Tom DeLay, played by Chris Cooper, accidentally gets run down by Chelsea in a BMW.

Posted by: lampwick on June 19, 2007 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

sportsfan79: Are you kidding? She's a GREAT actress.

Absolutely! And don't forget that Dubya's a phenomenal actor! Remember at the correspondent's dinner a couple of years ago when he showed the video of himself looking around his office for the missing WMDs? Oscar material, baby! (Psst! Better not show that video to the troops!)

Posted by: JM on June 19, 2007 at 5:26 PM | PERMALINK

That was Mike Gravel staring at her, and in the original, he stared for 7 minutes, but they decided to edit most of it out.

Too funny.

Posted by: Swanny on June 19, 2007 at 5:57 PM | PERMALINK

If Hillary had guts she would have chosen Bitch by Meredith Brooks -- proudly claim that word and make it your own I say. Celine Dion? That chose alone disqualifies her for the presidency I say. Well it could have been worse -- Supertramp or the Bay City Rollers maybe?

Posted by: HokieAnnie on June 19, 2007 at 6:09 PM | PERMALINK

1952:

You like Ike
I like Ike
Everybody likes Ike
for President!

1964:

Hello, Lyndon
Well, hello, Lyndon
It's so nice to have you back
where you belong...

1972:

Nixon now
Nixon now
He's made a difference
He's shown us how
Nixon now
Nixon now
More than ever
Nixon now
Listen America
Nixon now!

or:

Nixon now
(More than ever)
Nixon now
(More than ever)
More than ever we need
Nixon now!

Posted by: Cheesy Campaign Songs on June 19, 2007 at 6:16 PM | PERMALINK

you guys need to lighten up. definitely. the spot was clever, and the "thug" was a character on the sopranos. seriously, lighten up.

Posted by: Boorring on June 19, 2007 at 6:22 PM | PERMALINK

The whole thing was based on the Sopranos last episode. I thought it was kind of clever, myself.

Posted by: Joshua Norton on June 19, 2007 at 7:03 PM | PERMALINK

I loved it. It was pretty cool, and unexpected. Like the Soprano's episode.

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 19, 2007 at 7:30 PM | PERMALINK

CELINE "Yeah, just watch me cover AC/DC" DION??!!?

(Sigh!) It's certainly a big comedown from Fleetwood Mac's "Don't Stop (Thinking About Tomorrow)" in '92, fersure ...

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 19, 2007 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

Ah, Kevin.

I guess thats all Billary has now: singing and playing around and pretedning shes a music star.

Meanwhile, the Republicans are serious about, oh, you know, actually RUNNING the country.

Posted by: egbert on June 19, 2007 at 8:21 PM | PERMALINK

...into the ground.

Posted by: cdc on June 19, 2007 at 8:25 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert wrote:

Meanwhile, the Republicans are serious about, oh, you know, actually RUNNING the country.

But we know he can't spell, so let me help him out:

Meanwhile, the Republicans are serious about, oh, you know, actually RUINING the country.

You're welcome!

Posted by: bob on June 19, 2007 at 8:35 PM | PERMALINK

While we're talking clueless, WTF uses interlaced video for something that's going to play over the web? For christ sake guys, even if you are too cheap/clueless to shoot on film or progressive, deinterlaced the freaking content before you encode it.
Interlaced material just looks amateur.

(Which is ironic, since most of the amateur stuff put on YouTube is created by people/tools that are intelligent enough to NOT use interlace.)

Posted by: Maynard Handley on June 19, 2007 at 8:54 PM | PERMALINK

so what's with Johnny Sac in the Clinton diner? was his cancer death in prison a diversion, and now he's in witness protection? was he afraid Hillary or Bill made him?

Posted by: DB on June 19, 2007 at 9:14 PM | PERMALINK

Egbert--that is the worst spelling of the word "pretending" and the most apparent lack of an apostrophe for "she's" that I have ever seen.

Oh yeah--Republicans are running the country all right--into the ground.

Posted by: consider wisely always on June 19, 2007 at 9:34 PM | PERMALINK

egbert: "Meanwhile, the Republicans are serious about, oh, you know, actually RUNNING the country."

Sure they are -- right into the ground, no doubt.

Posted by: Donald from Hawaii on June 19, 2007 at 10:53 PM | PERMALINK

She triggers the white noise syndrome, you know, nail on the chalkboard.

People might vote for her, but they will do it with their ears plugged, eyes squinting, and face contorted.

Posted by: Matt on June 19, 2007 at 11:27 PM | PERMALINK

I think that someone who is a sitting US Senator and is working up her expertise on all the issues one needs to be familiar with to be a viable President is just too busy for voice lessons.

Or, I hope she is.

Posted by: MattT on June 20, 2007 at 12:18 AM | PERMALINK

"First the videos asking for nomination, now this Sopranos spoof -- I'm actually starting to LIKE HRC.

If she could give us more like this, and less of the preaching/triangulating/tweaking the margins, I'd be enthusiastic, and not just resigned."
Posted by: Jim Pharo on June 19, 2007 at 2:53 PM

"you guys need to lighten up. definitely. the spot was clever, and the "thug" was a character on the sopranos. seriously, lighten up."
Posted by: Boorring on June 19, 2007 at 6:22 PM

Yeah Kevin! Time to start getting those Soprano's DVD's and start brushing up! Oh yeah and that "thug" was the character Johnny Sacrimoni. Could that be a poke at Giuliani?

Posted by: Doc at the Radar Station on June 20, 2007 at 1:03 AM | PERMALINK

Brilliant. Of the dozen or so homemade Sopranos endings (on Youtube), this is easily the best. So you don't need to watch Sopranos after all, Kevin - this about sums it up.

Posted by: Andy on June 20, 2007 at 2:04 AM | PERMALINK

CW Lupe Vargas:

Why was that guy staring at them in the end of it? Huh?

That was Johnny Sack.

Johnny Sack

Posted by: Andy on June 20, 2007 at 2:19 AM | PERMALINK

"She triggers the white noise syndrome, you know, nail on the chalkboard.

People might vote for her, but they will do it with their ears plugged, eyes squinting, and face contorted"

What in the hell are you talking about? I probably won't vote for her, but she's got a pretty good speaking voice...you Americans, good Lord.

Posted by: Plantsman1 on June 20, 2007 at 5:10 AM | PERMALINK

People have strange ideas about voice training. A woman her age is not going to be able to change the entire way she speaks. Voice training is about breath control and supporting your voice properly with your diaphragm; it's not some kind of "makeover".

Posted by: Tracer Hand on June 20, 2007 at 5:55 AM | PERMALINK

She needs to get Paul Potts to do her singing for her.

Posted by: Scorpio on June 20, 2007 at 6:19 AM | PERMALINK

Not only is Celine Dion Canadian, she also won the EUROVISION SONG CONTEST! Why does Hillary Clinton hate America?

Posted by: ~~~~ on June 20, 2007 at 6:36 AM | PERMALINK

I thought that the Clinton/Soprano video was a clever bit of fun. By going to black, it even spared viewers the news of the selection of that Celine Dion song.

Why not Ashcroft's "Let the Eagle Soar"?

homer www.altara.blogspot.com

Posted by: Homer Hewitt on June 20, 2007 at 7:30 AM | PERMALINK

I think the concerns about Hilary's voice reflect regional bias more than anything else --- to some of us, her voice sounds perfectly normal.

Posted by: sj on June 20, 2007 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I think the concerns about Hilary's voice reflect regional bias more than anything else --- to some of us, her voice sounds perfectly normal.

Posted by: sj on June 20, 2007 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

I thought the spot was brilliant. The acting, so-so... but wtf.

I'm also fine with Celine Dion, and I think zillions of music buyers are too. (I voted for Shania Twain)
But, for those who don't know, there was actually a CONTEST. Senator Clinton didn't "pick" the song. If she was going to pick the song, she wouldn't have had the contest.
(If you haven't seen the two videos for the contest, they are also excellent).

Also, I don't get the rap about Celine being a Canadian? Has The Worst President Ever now war-mongered his Loyal Bushies into believing that CANADA is our enemy too? Jeesh!
(p.s. Saddam Hussein had NOTHING to do with 9/11, and Valerie Plame WAS indeed a covert CIA operative.)

Posted by: Jan on June 20, 2007 at 1:14 PM | PERMALINK

That spot seems incredibly lame to me:

-- It drags on

-- the background music blows

-- what? Chelsea can't park? (BTW: that's not "parallel" parking) And then she never appears?

-- What's with the glaring old guy? I don't get his role at all.

And all that is to set up the lame announcement that she chose a lame Celine Dion tune for her campaign song?

Very weak.

Posted by: Disturbance on June 20, 2007 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

Before her first election as prime minister, Margaret Thatcher famously took voice lessons, which made her voice deeper and (if you can believe this) less strident. When she came to power, she had the members of her cabinet take lessons with a famous voice coach as well.

She was ridiculed for it, but it unquestionably helped her image at the time.

Posted by: Lance Knobel on June 20, 2007 at 2:57 PM | PERMALINK

You're missing a few things, Disturbance.

Posted by: sj on June 20, 2007 at 8:01 PM | PERMALINK

band of brothers has been around for 8 seasons? Has Vince got around to being famous yet cause if not I nominate its renamed to "Friends"... Wait.

Posted by: Amado Eikenberry on April 13, 2011 at 10:27 PM | PERMALINK
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