Thursday, September 27, 2007

Hillary, Bill, Chips, and Carrots

Earlier this week I commented on the current fad of presidential campaigns picking the names of a few supporters to share a meal with the candidate. This aspect of political theater has reached the point where it is ripe for parody or satire.

One digression -- in recent years mass emailing programs have allowed each message to be personalized with individual names. It is supposed to give the reader the illusion that the message was meant just for them. There are unintended consequences, however, especially when used on the local level. Imagine my reaction when, a few years ago, I received an email from a candidate that I had spoken to earlier that day in a casual setting, which had the subject "why I must see you this Friday." It took me two readings to figure out it was not, indeed, a personal invitation, but trying to get a crowd to show up at a campaign event.

So this week I had a sense of deja vu when Bill Clinton, or his email drone, sent an email with the subject line "You, me, a TV, and a bowl of chips." It starts out:

Dear [Jane],

There are two things in this world that I love more than anything else -- my family and politics. So you can imagine just how fired up I get when Hillary is on the stage debating the issues that matter to our country.

So here's an idea: why don't you and I share that excitement together during an upcoming debate. Hillary's campaign will pick three people -- each invited with a guest to watch one of the upcoming presidential debates with me. We'll sit down in front of a big TV with a big bowl of chips, watch the debate, and talk about the race. If you enter before the Sunday midnight deadline, you and a guest could be the ones to sit down with me to watch a presidential debate.

There are just so many things to work with here that it's hard to pick a starting point. Before this email could scroll off the front screen, a follow-up from Hillary arrived:
Dear [Jane],

I hear you might be watching a debate with Bill -- can I ask you a favor?

Bill mentioned "a big bowl of chips" in the email he sent you Tuesday. If you are one of the three people who get the chance to join him, can you make sure he eats carrots, not chips?

I know I can rely on you for this -- because you've been there for me this entire campaign. I've relied on you and more than a million of your fellow supporters, and you've never let me down.

Can we just stop this silliness? No more raffles to share meals or excitement or anything else with candidates or their spouses or pets or who knows what.

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