Tuesday, October 31, 2006

The Wind Cries Kerry

If you’re in that perceptive group that truly sees the danger of this current administration for the twisted bully/cowards that they are - you were probably more than a little freaked out to hear John Kerry talk his way into another jam recently. I know I was, and my level of frustration was much more personal than for most.

See, there was a time starting in 2003 that I made it my mission in life to save John Kerry from himself. That sounds like I take myself way too seriously, but that’s how it came down. I became convinced that a second Bush term would be a national tragedy so I applied to several of the Democratic candidates and offered my services as a writer of one-liners. Sound bites with real pop to them. Frankly, I’d prefer to stay out of politics, but these are desperate times, and so I made the leap. My plan was to sit in my basement in Portland and crank out the lines, to counter the latest Republican spin. I may not be great at it, but the Kerry camp was turning out crap. I'm being completely serious when I say this: I imagined writing a magic line that could save America.

Coincidentally, this is the week that my normal computer went gigs up, so I’m back on the old rig, which has my email exchanges with David Wade - a key player in the Kerry campaign who remained part of the team even after 2004. Here are excerpts from some of the emails. There were a bunch of others, including one that was a vent during the Swift Boat summer of 2004. I don’t normally apply with this level of frustration but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing out of the Kerry camp. So it was a little like today:

* From June, 2003, addressed to Kerry himself.
Dear John,
A few weeks ago I faxed three of your offices and
e-mailed your site, with an offer. I am a professional joke writer
with over 300 jokes sold to Jay Leno. I also write for 115 radio
stations around America.
My idea was that you should have a professional joke writer
on staff to garner you the attention from the national press that a
campaign ad won't. I was responding to the negative attention you got
for your "regime change" quip. Not only can the right joke win you
support, but a good line said in the papers is free. My work has been
quoted on Imus, Larry King, and in the USA Today.
I also wondered what response I'd get. Since none was
forthcoming, please take me off your e-mailing list. This is a very
serious time in this country. I didn't offer to help for the e-mail.
Bill McDonald

* That’s when I first heard from David Wade.

Bill,

Thanks for emailing our website - I'm glad that your email made its way
through the volunteers to the Communications office --

Writing help is hard to come by, so I'm grateful and would be very
interested in hearing your ideas re. humor and the campaign -

Best,
David


* The next is from March of 2004.

Dear David,
Bill McDonald here, the freelance comedy writer who
wants to help you win the White House.
I am coming off a stretch where I sold Jay Leno 8 jokes
in a week and a half. The last one(Do you realize the Bush
administration has now produced more gay marriages than jobs?)
got a highly favorable review from James Carville.
That got me thinking. Back during Campaign 2000, I asked
James Carville if he could get me a job writing for Al Gore. It didn't
work and you saw what happened.
Don't make the same mistake. Hire me and let me help you
win this. Don Imus keeps kidding John Kerry on how dull some of his
statements sound("Bring it on!") Let me help turn that around.
Another "Regime change" crack could really hurt, while the
right line could win a swing state.
You don't want to lose and then be sitting there 3 years
from now admiring one of my jokes and wishing you had hired me.
Bill McDonald

P.S. Here's a point for free: Democrats should call
President Bush "Reckless George". He's reckless about the deficit, the
economy, the environment, our soldiers, the Constitution, and on and
on. If you can brand him with the nickname Reckless George you can
break through this preposterous steady-leadership jive.

Bill
Thanks for your note -- is there someone at The Tonight Show you'd suggest as a reference?
Obviously we may be enlarging staff at some point as soon as we can, right now we do rely on a lot of volunteer help from writers willing to give the campaign their creaivity and time --
David

* I arranged to have Jay Leno take the call from the Kerry campaign. They never called. After asking for a reference they never followed through. My emails continued - here’s one after another Kerry bonehead line. It’s from July of 2004 - the Summer of the Swift Boat.

Dear David,
So here I am closing in on 400 jokes sold to Jay Leno and he's playing a clip of John Kerry's S.A.T. joke, commenting on how difficult it is to write comedy.
Meanwhile I've offered to write comedy for the Kerry campaign but to no avail. I even got Jay Leno to agree to take your call for a reference, but you never called.
My advice would be to hire a professional rather than send John out with a joke that gets him ridiculed in 70 countries around the world.
This is too important to try and wing it. Hire a pro.

* Epilogue: After the defeat I took the high road and wrote David a sympathetic note, even though I wanted to vent. I did call it "The Road Not Taken" - referring to their decision not to hire me. I haven’t printed all the emails here - some were just suggestions. I never gave up and they never gave in. David sent a nice reply back.

Bill, Just a quick note to say thank you - for your suggestions, your jokes, your good advice, and for your very thoughtful note after this thing ended. I appreciate it. keep in touch - I'll be back with John Kerry, who is very much in a fighting mood.
David

* I remember being so steamed. Now that it was over John was ready to fight? At least he responded today, but it’s the same old movie. I could write a better line than the one that caused the problems. If that’s being full of myself, than so be it. Election 2006 is so important - the idea that this same man could screw it up doing the same things? Let’s just say, I find it personally quite aggravating. I also still have David Wade’s contact information. Sounds like it’s time to apply again. The Portland Freelancer did not get this far by giving up.

15 Comments:

At 8:12 AM, Anonymous butch said...

All I can say is, "Thank you David Wade."

If this latest Kerry gaff tells us anything, it tells us that he is not fit to be Commander in Chief.

He is, however, perfectly suited to be Karl Rove's butler. Who else has made Karl's life easier?

 
At 9:09 AM, Blogger Torrid said...

If blowing a line makes Kerry unfit to be CiC, how unfit does that make the current Malaprop-A-Day owner of that title?

This is a non-story hyped by a party desperate to cling to ANYTHING, even a blown joke. I would think even Bill recognizes that sometimes you get the timing wrong.

 
At 9:27 AM, Anonymous butch said...

I don't think it was a blown line. This is just the latest in a pattern of disparaging remarks made by the good Senator.

If it was supposed to be a joke about Bush's education, then it was just plain stupid. Bush got better grades at Yale than Kerry did.

 
At 9:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

butch - can you cite that somewhere? I'm still having a hard time buying it.

 
At 9:42 AM, Blogger TR said...

All I can say is hurrah for Kerry who is calling out that little pip squeak and his lackeys for the pathetic little puppets of the power elite that they are. Kerry should have added that if Bush had taken a course in combat in Vietnam he might have been a little better prepared to be a Commander in Chief instead of the Chimp in Charge.

 
At 10:41 AM, Anonymous butch said...

Anonymous, Google "Kerry's grades." The firt to hits are to articles in the Boston Globe and the San Fran Chronicle about his lackluster performance at Yale. There is a reason he refused to release his transcripts during the '04 election. Bush's grades were slightly better than Kerry's. Would have killed the 'Bush is Stupid' meme they were pushing in the campaign.

 
At 10:58 AM, Blogger TR said...

Bush is stupid you don't need to see his grades from Yale to figure that one out.

 
At 11:24 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

Oh, I recognize it for what it was - he mangled the line. I don't believe anyone really thinks he was taking an opportunity to call the troops stupid. He was trying to say Bush is stupid and he flubbed it. Unfortunately many of Bush's followers are stupid and we don't want anything to rile up the base right now.
In the same speech he said something about Bush being from the state of Texas but now he's from the state of denial.
A great Kerry line would have to sound as ponderous as the man who delivers it. We're not talking Robin Williams here. I believe it would be a line that you could carve in marble.
One idea I had during the endless summer of the Swift Boat when we had a cowardly National-Guard skipping Daddy's boy smear a Vietnam Vet is as follows. Go on live TV and have them X-ray the shrapnel in your leg. And do it the day the Swift Boating started - don't wait around all summer.
That being said, his strategy almost worked. It took vote rigging in Ohio to lose the election and I don't blame Kerry for that.
Right now though I would prefer if Kerry would just Butt Out!!!
Unless it turns out helping. Then this whole thing was a tremendous piece of good fortune. Yesterday it did NOT appear to have helped.

 
At 11:26 AM, Blogger Bill McDonald said...

One additional thought: The original line could have been better, but once it was out there he needed something quick to diffuse it. This "I won't apologize" trip just made things worse, in my opinion.

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Isn't it fun to see the Bushies rush to bring up George's grades at Yale? As if he actually went to the classes, studied, or learned anything.

He went through college the way he went through the National Guard -- on his daddy's money and clout, and a lot of drugs and booze.

 
At 6:49 PM, Anonymous butch said...

laurelhurstdad, you are absolutely right. I guarantee you all those right-wing Nazi Ivy League professors gave dubya a free pass, and they tried to flunk J. 'Forbes' Kerry. (does sarcasm come across in black and white print?)

I think its funny how liberals try to say that Kerry is so intelligent and dubya just had everything handed to him. What life skill has Kerry demonstrated other than the ability to marry rich women? A sense of humor? (heh)

 
At 2:28 PM, Blogger LaurelhurstDad said...

Isn't it fun to watch the Bushies change the subject?

Who mentioned Kerry? Anything to divert attention from the crimes of Bush, be it cheating in school, killing hundreds of thousands of people, or just being stupid in high office.

 
At 2:54 PM, Anonymous butch said...

Hey genius (laurelhurstdad), who mentioned Kerry? Did you even read the TITLE to this post?

 
At 3:33 PM, Blogger TR said...

You can't expect them to run on their record.

 
At 3:35 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see great humor here.
Laurelhurstdad appears to be trying to make the point that republicans are always changing the discussion when things don't go their way. He failed to make that point when he (somewhat) obviously made note of how Butch ignored Laurelhurstdad's point about Butch deflecting Laurelhurstdad's point about changing his original point. Wait, I forget now who 'his' refers to!

That does sound somewhat like Bush when he starts to talk. Maybe there are many lessons here.

 

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