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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat



    Can late-night TV pump up politics?

    When Republican Fred Thompson, the former U.S. senator best known for playing a tough district attorney on “”Law and Order,”” announced his intention to run for president in 2008, he eschewed traditional news outlets and blew off a presidential debate, instead deciding to declare his candidacy from Jay Leno’s couch on “”The Tonight Show.””

    Generally, any time that Arnold Schwarzenegger starts a trend, people should do the opposite. However, several candidates in the race for the presidency have followed his lead, using late-night TV as a way to kick off their campaigns. Thompson joined their ranks Sept. 5.

    Although political campaigns become more commercial and less issue-oriented each year, announcing one’s candidacy on an entertainment program may do more good than harm. Far more people watch “”The Tonight Show”” than C-SPAN, and with young-voter turnout in 2004 at only 49 percent, any way to mobilize voters and raise the nation’s political consciousness is worth exploring. Although politics as performance is an issue that must be addressed nationally, forming linkages between politicians and voters is a valuable service, even if the medium through which it is done is less than ideal.

    -Sarah Devlin is a sophomore majoring in English and political science.

    If we’re truly dedicated to increasing voter turnout, then we should set up the campaign like a reality TV show. All the candidates would be forced to live as roommates in a big house, and we’d be able to tune in at any time and judge based on their mannerisms. Votes would, of course, be sent via text message.

    While I’d love to see Tom Tancredo construct a wall to separate his side of the room from Bill Richardson’s, and I’d love to see how long John Edwards spends each morning fixing his hair, I think we may need to re-examine our goal of increasing turnout. Do we want a higher number of voters, or do we want a higher number of informed voters? The Discovery Channel does a good job of being both entertaining and informing – “”The Tonight Show”” does not.

    Before long we’re lost in that bizarre and sordid in-between world of “”infotainment.”” The candidates already spend entirely too much time on television. They have too many chances to revise their statements, to make retractions, jokes, deflections and attacks, to strategize with their speechwriters and campaign staff, to rehearse for the next appearance. This system favors the candidates that look and sound good in front of a camera. Before we encourage a greater role of entertainment television in our campaigns, we have to ask ourselves: do we want to elect leaders or do we want to elect actors and figureheads?

    -Eric Moll is a sophomore majoring in creative writing and environmental science.

    She’s not so lucky

    Controversial pop star Britney Spears was dropped by the management company hired to mastermind her triumphant comeback, a mere month after she hired them to reinvigorate her mangled musical career.

    We’ve all known that Britney was in a downward spiral since the beginning of her relationship to Kevin Federline. She possibly could have split from him intact had she not given birth to two kids. Most of the time, having kids will not fix or mend a failing relationship, but that won’t stop people from trying. Yeah, poor Brit this, poor Brit that, but what about her kids?! It is probably in her best interest that she will temporarily lose custody of her children to her ex-husband. Living with K-Fed probably doesn’t sound that great, but at this point, it is the lesser of two evils considering that she might put them up on eBay. Having two nieces myself, I fear for the safety and well-being of her two boys. Talk about being emotionally and psychologically scarred for life. I hope she’s been saving money for their future therapy sessions.

    -Jeremiah Simmons is a second-year public health graduate student.

    Somebody needs to keep Britney out of the public eye, and it’s pretty clear she won’t do it herself – she can’t even leave the house with pants on lately. Of course, her management company isn’t going to represent someone whose every action requires damage control, but she’s fired everyone else who works for her. Who’ll keep her from using her kids as beer cozies now? I’m no doctor, but it looks as though Britney, unlike other wild, young celebrities, is having some genuine psychological issues. Allowing her to make a spectacle of herself when she is in obvious need of help is shameful.

    -Alyson Hill is a senior majoring in classics, German studies and history.

    I’m actually not concerned that Britney is crazy or unstable. She’s just a pop star dealing with a loser ex-husband, her flailing stardom and two children. Most divorces are ugly, but Britney’s just happens to be 100 percent public information. US Weekly recently reported that she crank-calls K-Fed and walks around her house naked, supposedly confirming her mental instability. If I married a gold-digging wannabe rapper who consistently wears bandanas with fedoras and athletic jerseys, I’d probably want to crank-call him, too. She may be a liability, and her label was probably smart to drop her, but she’ll bounce back.

    -Allison Dumka is a senior majoring in political science and pop culture commentary.

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