Been thinking a bit about the challenge of 10 candidates at a time trying to make their best pitches during the two-night Democratic version of “Survivor.”
The combination of binge-watching “Veep” and lack of REM sleep conspired to create this imaginary scenario of how it might go.
NBC Moderator: Welcome to the first Democratic presidential debates for the 2020 election cycle. Since we have so many unknowns, er, candidates on the stage mixed in with a few old guys, er, elder statesman, we’ll have to set down a few rules to make this work.
First, to save time, we’re boiling your names down to one or two quick syllables. For examples, you, from South Bend, you’ll be addressed as Butt, while long, tall, spastic hand-waving guy from Texas will be Butt-O. See the difference? Makes sense, right? There won’t be a doubt whom we’re addressing. The former Veep will be identified as Bye and the other old guy from Vermont will be Burn. The senators from California and Massachusetts will be recognized as Harry and Tonto respectively. Sorry if we seem disrespectful at times, but this is television and we don’t care.
As for the others whose polls barely show a pulse, we’re just going to address all of you as Who? Just jump in if you have a thought, but be prepared to do so only when we’re in commercial. That’s simply to keep things moving and because, again, we don’t care.
Some of you won’t like the names we’re assigned you but let’s face it, for at least half of you, it doesn’t matter because most Americans don’t know who you are anyway, so go with it and enjoy your 15 seconds of face time in between ramblings by the front runners, aka, those sucking up all the donations, airtime and are prominent enough to earn an obnoxious nickname from President Trump.
We’ll start with opening statements. Due to the number of candidates and time constraints please limit your statements to a 20-second pre-written soundbite you hope will go viral.
From there our panel, chosen from recent visitors to the Bronx Zoo, will fire off piercing questions. Each of you will be limited to either two-word responses or one hand gesture. Rebuttals are allowed, but, again, due to time restraints they will be limited to the following choices: “Huh,” “Uh uh,” “Well, yeah, but,” or simply a moment of arched eyebrows or a tight grimace.
At the end, each candidate will be afforded a closing statement of 12 seconds or less. That pretty much kills the idea of parenthetical thoughts or tangents and gets us off the air on time because no one in this great country wants to miss even a second of the popular NBC series “Filthy Rich Cattle Drive.” which, you have to admit, is genius programming following this useless cattle call.
We realize not every candidate will have to time to fully flesh out his or her talking points but then again, that’s not why you’re watching, right? You’re here for the inevitable embarrassing screw-up or pantsing of one candidate by another frustrated when his or her arched eyebrow rebuttal was laughed off as an incomplete response.
So if everyone is ready, let’s to this thing! Time’s wasting!
A little fun with our favorite feudin’ world leaders on their nuclear buttons.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan may have not just hit the nail on the head, but flattened the sucker when he explained President Donald Trump’s political faux pax as “he’s just new to this.” I say that because politics aside, admit, you’ve been there. I know I have.
After spending 33 years as a journalist, working in fast-paced, no-nonsense newsrooms at CNN, the Associated Press and The Detroit News it was more than culture shock when I flipped to the “dark side” in 2005, joining the PR department at then, DaimlerChrysler, now Fiat Chrysler Automobiles.
First off, as a long-time broadcaster, I was just too damned loud for a corporate setting. Hey, I’m projecting! A kindly administrative assistant told me not only to not “project” but to maybe stop talking altogether. “We communicate by email and -+-+instant messaging here,’ she instructed me. “It’s quieter.” Heh.
Next screwup was getting up out of my seat to walk over to a colleague’s workstation to ask a question. When I appeared at his cube he shot me a look that said, “you remind me of a recent bacteria from which I’ve just been cleansed.” Soldiering on, I gamely said, “Hi. Got a minute to talk about that Dodge media program?” He answered my question with the question,”Did you send me an Outlook meeting request?” “Uh, no,” I replied. “I don’t need a meeting, I just wanted to ask you a couple of questions.” “Well, I have three minutes until my next scheduled meeting, ” he shot back. “So why don’t you send me a meeting invite to arrange some time and then I’ll answer your questions.” Using all the tact my reporting career taught me I smiled as I replied, “Are you shitting me?” He assured me he wasn’t and I returned to my workstation.
That’s where screwup number 2 began. I had sent another colleague an email earlier that day asking a question. Four or five hours went by with no answer. So I sent a follow-up, as I would have done if I was tracking down a story. Couple of hours went by. No reply. I then called the guy. No answer. Left a voice mail. No reply. This went on for another 24 hours so I got my butt up and walked over to his cube. “Hi!” I said. The guy, who was just screwing off surfing the web, jumped, turned around, smiled and returned my “Hi!” with an even bigger “HI!!” When I asked if he got my emails and messages, he said he did. When I asked why he didn’t respond, he said, “oh, no one here is in that big of a rush.”
Later that day my supervisor called me into her office with a stern look on her face. “Ed,” she barked. “Two employees have complained to me that you’ve been harassing them.” “Right,” I quickly admitted. “I walked up to one guy to ask him a couple of questions and he whined I didn’t schedule a meeting…for a conversation! The other guy didn’t respond to my emails or phone messages for two days and I needed an answer to my question.”
I was foolish to think that would acquit me and the case would be closed. Ha! My supervisor looked me in the eye and hissed, “you’re not an effin’ reporter anymore. You don’t browbeat people. You don’t hunt them down like dogs for answers. You simply wait until they’re good and ready and have time to deal with you.” She didn’t seem amused when I informed her that’s not only a rude and disrespectful attitude between co-workers but it’s totally counter-productive. In fact the conversation was closed with, “this is a corporation. That’s how you need to act in a corporate setting.”
I guess I was “just new to this.” I did eventually tone my voice down and learn to request meetings with people, but if someone didn’t answer a question the same day I posed it, I was on them like Black Flag on a roach. Sometimes, you just need to change some of “this,” to a little of you own “that.”