Thursday, September 02, 2004

Top Ten Most Annoying Political Speech Moves

#10 Speaking in the 3rd person
Primary Offender: Bob Dole.
Usage: "Bob Dole wants to cut your taxes. Bob Dole loves puppies".

#9 Turn it up to 11
Primary Offender: Al Gore.
Usage: When Al Gore makes a speech, he only has one move: louder. You are never in doubt about what lines he thinks are most important. He always gives you three sentences worth of notice as he begins to speak at a greater and greater volume until he bellows out the applause line. The saving grace of #9 and #10 is that they are largely limited to the speakers in question and, therefore, are now all but extinct. The remainders, however, are all on the ascendency.

#8 Lip Biting
Primary Offender: Bill Clinton
Usage: Virtually any time he needs to register faux regret. This one is a hot button for those on the right much like that quirky smirk President Bush has bugs the crap out of those on the left.

#7 "When I served in Vietnam"
Primary Offender: John Kerry
Usage: It is not that he brings it up; it is that he brings it up in response to EVERYTHING.

#6 "Nuculer"
'Nuff said.

#5 Too Hip by Half
Primary Offender: Too Widespread
Usage: Howard Dean declaring himself a metrosexual, then admitting that he is not quite sure what that means.

#4 Non-political plants in the audience
Primary Offender: Presidents at the State of the Union.
Usage: We freed Afghanistan; look there is an Afghan in the audience. We passed a medical reform bill; look there is Judy Jackson, elderly American. This trick has not reached its logical ridiculous apogee yet (in which a parade of citizens of every conceivable demographic is trotted out), which suggests either politicians are attuned to the absurdity of this trick or that there is an extremely limited seating capacity in the Capital building. I know where my money lies.

#3 Movie/Music/Sports Stars
Primary Offender: Democrats, but Republicans would if they could.
Usage: It sucks to pick on the Rs, but the most recent example is Jason Sehorn and his wife, Angie Harmon. Remember the great safety, Jason Sehorn? No. OK, remember the wildly overrated because he's the great white hope safety Jason Sehorn? The one married to the smoking hot, gravelly voiced woman who used to be on Law and Order. Yeah, that guy. Do you care what his politics are? Me neither.

#2 Wives/Kids Speaking
Primary Offender: Presidential Candidates.
Usage: Ubiquitous. This is wrong on so many levels. The big two, however, are: it demeans the viewers and it demeans the spouses (the kids are a little different in this respect).

Whenever the wives or children are trotted out to do thier little speech, commentators blather on and on about how they help to humanize the candidate. Newsflash: with the possible exception of Al Gore, all politicians are human. The idea that some people will vote for one candidate over another becuase of a pet name his wife has or becasue of some cutsey gerbil mouth to mouth story (which,incidentally, has a little too much creepy overtone to it) is disgusting. It shows just how dumb politicians think citizens are. On a slightly more depressing note, it probably works.

The kids are a slightly different issue. When the wives get done speaking and commentators drool and slobber about what a great job they did, it is so transparently condescending: look at the good little wife, she can use big words can't she. Good wifey, wifey. This attitude seems reasonable for the kids, though. One: they are kids. Two: they don't have a lifetime of experience standing next to a politician.

Finally, it turns out you don't really need to have the sound up to enjoy watching the Bush twins speak.

#1 Thumb Pointing
Major Offender: I feel like Bill Clinton started this but they all do it now.
Usage: Remember when politicians used to walk up to the podium, look out at the crowd, point, wave and smile at friends. Those were the good old days. Now they do the thumb point.

Make a thumbs up sign. Now crawl your thumb down into your index finger like a turtle going into its shell. When the thumb is barely sticking out above your knuckle, you are ready. Now any time you feel the need to point do that instead. This drives me insane. No one ever, ever points like this. If Isaac from the Love Boat did this, the show would have tanked in a month. You got the visual didn't you? Did you ever feel threatened by Isaac pointing? Of course not.

When giving directions or pointing to something on a chart or computer screen do you ever do the thumb point? Of course not. Have you ever seen anyone else do it? Of course not. It is the single stupidest gesture I have ever seen. Maybe politicians do need the humanizing touch of the spouse/kid speech, because this gesture is other worldly.

The simple fact is that Bob Dole is the only person ever with an excuse for making this gesture. And if you ask him why, he'll tell you. In the third person.


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